Wednesday, January 7, 2015

How to make a gingerbread house castle

gingerbread castle

Sometimes I get these ideas—culinary ones, that is—that come completely out of left field, full of frosting and sugar and unexpected combinations of ingredients and thing, which at first make me balk and at second make me rush into the kitchen, rubber spatula and cookbook in hand. This is one of those ideas.

After making the basic gingerbread house, I knew I wanted to try something else. Something grander, more elaborate. The first one was fun, after all, so naturally an even bigger gingerbread house would be far more fun; it’s just logic. Then the idea struck me. A castle! I ought to make a castle...out of gingerbread cookies!

Well....why the hell not? Never mind that I don’t have a template to follow, nor do I know what a castle looks like, nor do I have any reasonable way of making round towers with turrets and flags and such out of bakeable and edible materials. I can just wing it, you know?

And that’s what I did.

Oh lawd.

I took a quick look at an image search for castles and set to work with some good ol’ graph paper and a ruler, drawing haphazard sketches of a very, very, very simplistic “castle” and then drawing lines and measurements and algebraic letters to make that unprofessional, messy thing I called a “template”. I mean, the final version worked, so none of that frustrated fuckery I churned out the first few times mattered.

Just look at that crusty marzipan! Clearly it all worked!

I’m sad to say that I did not get a chance to scan said template before cutting it up and using in practice, so there isn’t a true template for you to use if you chose to make a similar gingerbread house. But I did outline sort of how I developed it, which could be useful for anyone setting out to make their own gingerbread creations.

Yeah. As if.

As decorations, I made use of some homemade marzipan as well as some basic colored buttercream (once again taking advantage of the beautiful natural colors present in matcha and beet). The lines of plain buttercream were a bit labor-intensive, yes, but as someone who usually doesn’t have a lot of success piping shit, I can say I’m pretty pleased.

Here's the backside, with a long church-like window.

Just like the other gingerbread house I made, it’s not perfect. It doesn’t even look like a castle, really—plus the “gargoyle” I attempted to make for the front is basically the definition of lameness. But that’s okay. Kind of. It’s the principle of it.

Anyway, I’m done talking. Here’s the general outline of how I made this.

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How to make a gingerbread house castle

Ingredients

1 to 2 recipes of gingerbread house dough

2 to 3 recipes basic buttercream

Matcha powder and beet puree, for coloring

1 recipe marzipan

Powdered sugar, for sprinkling

Instructions

Start by making the gingerbread cookie base. Simply follow the instructions in the basic gingerbread house post up until the dough is set to chill. Draw out a template on a plain piece of paper using a ruler to ensure that all the sides are proportional. Here you can see individual pieces you will need to make and how they fit together. 

Click to enlarge.

Here is a basic outline of what each piece looks like separated (not to scale, of course).


It’s not difficult to draw out a template in this method; just decide how tall and how wide you want your castle to be. I started out with one measurement—15 cm for the side of the first piece—and went from there. The most important thing is that they line up. Each measurement can be assigned a letter, as you see here.


It’s not the most convenient method (sorry, no print-and-cut templates here) but it allows you some degree of freedom in deciding how large you want your castle to be. Just ensure that your a’s are all, say, 15 cm, or your d’s are all 10 cm. You can create your own template for basically any gingerbread structure this way.

So. Once you’ve got your templates all set, cut them out, being sure to label each one. Roll out the dough to about ½ cm thick and place a template on the dough. Cut carefully with a nice sharp knife. Transfer the piece to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and repeat until you have the needed number for that particular shape. Repeat with other shapes. Position the pieces about an inch apart, preferably grouping them by size (larger pieces bake for longer). Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until the tops are dry. Cut the shapes again using the same paper templates to ensure they are the proper proportions. Let cool completely on baking sheets.

To assemble, start with the side towers. On a cutting board or large plate, place the number 2 shape upright and pipe a line of frosting down the edge. Attach a 3; repeat on the other side and attach another three. Frost the edges of another 2 and attach it to the 3’s so you have a nice little column. Frost a 6 and place it on top; add 7’s for little turrets on the 6. Repeat with the remaining 2’s, 3’s, 6’s, and 7’s.

Place the two towers so that they face each other. Frost and attach a 5 to each side of each tower. Cover the opening between the 5’s with a 5. Attach the two towers with the 1’s. Frost and attach the 8’s on top as roofs. Ta-da, you’ve finished constructing your castle.

Now for decorating. I used simple buttercream decorations, piping out bricks with plain buttercream, hedges with matcha buttercream, and a pathway with beet buttercream. Add marzipan windows and doors. Sift powdered sugar on top, and you’ve done it! Now that you know how to make a template for a castle, you can make anything.

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Pink walkway out front? Yep, that's totally a castle.

Going on the theme of pretty, decorative desserts, I’ve collected a couple other recipes that you may find pleasing to look at. I certainly do. But that might just be taste buds talking.


Gluten-free vegan mint chocolate chip macarons. I did not, but you can use matcha to color the mint chocolate chip frosting if you’d like.

20 comments:

  1. Ahhh dang! This looks like something out of a fairytale! I just imagine the house to be 1000000 times the size in the picture, and that you could walk into it and stuff, haha :P I have been reading a little too much fantasy fiction recently...
    Seriously though, this looks delicious! And I love that you made a castle, going all out for gingerbread :) Yar! x

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    1. Oh, i wish I could walk into it! That would be awesome. Though I'd probably eat my way out soon enough. If only :D

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  2. This is AWESOME! So much cooler than any gingerbread house I've ever made.

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  3. Wow, this is gorgeous!! I love this!

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  4. So adorable! Love the stone texture on the walls! so unique :) Ive had hit or miss results with gingerbread architecture- one year we resorted to hot glue and a "Do not Eat sign"

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    1. Haha I think I might have to do that next time! Everyone wanted to pick off bits of marzipan and frosting :)

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  5. omg I would never have the patience to make this, but I loved seeing the steps...totally adorable!!
    Jenna

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  6. I like it! I thought about making a gingerbread house this last Christmas, but just didn't. I think your castle is great!

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    1. Thanks! You should totally try making a house next year, it's loads of fun :)

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  7. I love this! Your step-by-step guide is perfect, too!

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  8. What..the..?! This is awesome! The gingerbread castle looks perfect. I can't even make a gingerbread house (I think, haven't tried it) and you make a castle! Looks absolutely gorgeous.

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    1. Thanks so much! You should try making a gingerbread house, though, it's so much fun :)

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  9. Oh my goodness!!! This gingerbread castle is absolutely stunning, June!!! Every little detail is just perfect!

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    1. Aw, thank you! Worked really hard on it:)

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  10. This is an awesomely elaborate castle. Job well done, June! I wish I had the patience for something like this! You must have put some massive time and effort into this gingerbread castle. Thanks for linking it up at the Sunday's Recipe Wrap-up!

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    1. It wasn't bad at all! did it over the course of a few days. Glad you like it :)

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