Sunday, 25 October 2009

Haunted Gingerbread House

Last year at Yule we made a gingerbread house, and whilst we were looking on the internet for inspiration I came across some really cool looking haunted gingerbread houses that people had made for Halloween.  So I was determined that in 2009 we would have one of these too.  So here we are, a week prior to our party, and I was ready to make it.  I found the excellent recipe and instructions we'd used to make the house last year (fantastic for first timers!  Although note that this makes enough dough for two houses in my experience.) and then went looking for some sites/blogs or hopefully templates to make our own.  But alas, other than this incredible house, I couldn't find anything that I liked.  Most of the haunted houses turned out to be from a kit (boo!) and in any case didn't quite look like what I wanted.  So I decided to be very brave and make my own.

I started out with a sketch of the house as I wanted it, then made templates so I could do check my measurements.  It looks pretty good I thought, so I went ahead and baked the gingerbread.  The baking part went smoothly (other than losing the corner to one piece) and I soon had some royal icing made and ready to put it all together.  Which is where it went awry!  I hadn't even thought what effect the food colouring would have on the icing, but I can now pass on the lesson that you cannot colour royal icing with regular food colouring.  Apparently you need special gel or paste colours instead.  If you add regular food colouring to the icing it just goes horrendously runny.  I made a second batch of icing, didn't colour it and voila, the house was put together.  Phew!

Day two was decorating day, out came the bags of Halloween sweets and the many packs of writing and coloured icing that we have in the cupboard.  We decorate a few apricots up as Jack-o-Lanterns, propped chocolate skeletons up by past cauldrons and generally had a grand old time decorating the house.  It was a family affair, with my (almost) 3 year old contributing as well as my SO and myself.  Fun!  The jars I'd used to prop up the walls had left some marks on the board, and this encouraged our creativity to find more ideas to put on the board and cover them up.  My personal favourites are the eyes in the cauldron, and the witches legs sticking out from under the house a la Wizard of Oz that my SO made.

The white royal icing was painted over with food colouring to blend it in with the halloween theme, and the imperfections really don't matter on a haunted house in the same way that they do with a Yule one.  We've got a great centerpiece for our Halloween Party food next weekend (so more blogging to come as we create those!)

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