Feeling Festive: A Gingerbread House Bake Off
When I go home to visit my parents, we tend to spend most of our time in the kitchen – the cliché expression that the kitchen is the heart of a home really is true! I find that this is even more accurate around Christmas – plus hanging out in the kitchen makes it easier to have a constant supply of chocolate and mince pies…
I love watching shows such as the Great British Bake Off, and I follow a lot of baking bloggers for inspiration – there really is something about baking that brings people together. This was certainly the case at the NEFF and Currys PC World Gingerbread House Bake-off that I was lucky enough to be invited to. It was hosted at L’atelier des Chefs and I went along with Marie, who is an amazing baker (she’s usually kind enough to give me some of whatever she’s been making!) and we spent the first 20 minutes or so catching up, and enjoying the champagne, mulled wine and cheese that had been put out for us. There were around 26 bloggers there, and the atmosphere was so lovely and festive.
First, we were given a bit of insight about NEFF’s oven range. Anyone that watches the Great British Bake Off will recognise the amazing ovens with the Slide & Hide® doors – I was so excited when I found out we were going to be using them! The 71l ovens have NEFF’s patented CircoTherm® technology, giving users the ability to cook simultaneously on four different levels without the flavours mixing, no need to pre-heat the oven and bottom heat – no more soggy bottoms! They’re also easier to keep clean, although I’m definitely guilty of never ever cleaning my oven…maybe that can be my new year’s resolution!
We were split up into three teams, and given some pre-made gingerbread dough. We had to cut out and bake a gingerbread house, and then get creative and decorate it! We also got to make gingerbread biscuits and canapés. If you want the recipe for the gingerbread, you can find it here!
Putting together the gingerbread house was much more challenging than I expected! Teamwork was key, and our group worked brilliantly together. I didn’t know anyone there except Marie, but everyone was so chatty, welcoming and easy to get along with. Half of the group worked on the canapés (bruschetta, and smoked salmon on gingerbread – sounds weird, tasted pretty good!), and the others focussed on decorating the house – I was enjoying getting creative with rainbow laces to make stained glass windows!
Our gingerbread biscuits didn’t work as well as we’d hoped, but instead of being disappointed, we crushed them up into crumbs and used them as soil for our gingerbread house garden! We had succulents made from jelly beans, roses made from strawberry pencils and dolly mixture plants. We had a few anxious moments where we thought our house was going to collapse, but thankfully it held!
Once all the teams had finished, we lined up our houses and canapés to be judged. The houses were all so bright and colourful, you could see how hard everyone had worked – and two of them were still standing! Of course it’s about the taking part…but I’m a competitive person, and I was very happy that our gingerbread house won! We were told we won because of how well we all worked together, and that was so nice to hear. I can sometimes struggle when I’m put into a group of people I don’t know, but we all came together to bake and decorate something delicious and festive and it was such a fun evening. It was the perfect way to really kick off the Christmas season, and I’m so grateful I was able to attend!
Have you ever made a gingerbread house? Is baking something you enjoy?