Those lovely folk at Tesco Real Food have just done a number on me. They asked me if the kids and I would like to make a Christmassy gingerbread house. Of course I said yes in seconds flat – after all, I usually get one from Ikea and we spend a happy half hour covered in icing sticking the bits together.
What I hadn’t realised is that this time, we’d be making all the bits ourselves. From scratch! Yes, creating our own gingerbread walls, ceiling, doors and windows. And then decorating! Phew.
I was a bit daunted as I lifted the ingredients out of the lovely red box Tesco had sent. But luckily my intrepid team of cooks were not fazed for one second. There were, in fact, squeals of delight as they unearthed a haul of sweeties including licquorice allsorts, strawberry laces, dolly mixtures, marshmallows and icing pens. Of course, they didn’t think for even one nanosecond about the condition of the table, walls, floor and even ceiling during and after the creation. But there we are. That’s the price of true artistry, I suppose.
For all my moaning, the house was surprisingly easy to bake. The gingerbread recipe is quick and, though it seemed perilously crumbly when we were rolling it out, adding virtually half a kilo of sugar icing meant that it set like concrete. You do, however, have to leave the cooked pieces overnight in a tin to dry out enough to use, otherwise they would buckle. *Worth explaining to the kids from the start, so there’s no disappointment at not finishing the job all in one go*.
There was one tiny, eeency-wincy little problem, when we came to the construction part, though – we forgot to cut out two of the roof shapes, so our gingerbread house has a flat roof. Well, it’s so loaded with white chocolate buttons, you can hardly see it. And the gables soaring above it look very fine and rather spectacular. They even have stained glass windows, glazed with melted rhubarb and custard boiled sweets, and etched into heart shapes while still soft by my own fair hand.
Inside the house, there’s not a whole lot of room for the gingerbread people, because instead of a bowl to steady the walls during construction, we put in two coffee cups, forgot to take them out, and iced the roof over them. Ahem. Oh well. At some point over Christmas we’ll have to go on a rescue mission and chop our way through to the abandoned cups. Up until then, we shall just bask in the splendour of the house, and the warm glow of accomplishment which comes from making the whole thing ourselves. Thank you, Tesco Real Food. If you want to see how to do it in a tidier, less sticky fashion, have a look at http://www.tescorealfood.com/recipes/how-to-build-a-gingerbread-house.html.
And, if you’re in the middle of making it when you discover part of the roof is missing, *cough*, you can tweet Tesco Real Food’s special team of crack Christmas cooking experts, who will be helping people live over Christmas. Just tweet @TescoRealFood, or http://twitter.com/tescorealfood. And good luck!