UO GIFTED: CHRISTMAS GINGERBREAD HOUSEDecember 7, 2015
Embrace the festive spirit with this Insta-worthy gingerbread house. We teamed up with London based biscuit company, Biscuiteers to learn how to make this delicious Christmas themed gingerbread house. We also caught up with Biscuiteers founder, Harriet Hastings on biscuit disasters, the best way to spend Christmas and looking forward to 2016.
UO: Can you tell us a bit about the roots of Biscuiteers and how it all got started?
The idea for Biscuiteers came whilst spending a weekend in New York with my husband and business partner, Stevie. We were inspired by the food gifting market and were sure there was a real opportunity to set up a biscuit gift business back home in the UK. We started designing and recipe testing in early 2007. In the beginning we camped out in my husband’s catering kitchens, but had to move pretty quickly as the orders quickly started coming in!
UO: Where does your passion for baking come from?
I would have to say it’s the design process. I love working on new designs and collections and in particular some of the bespoke work for other brands is really rewarding and exciting.
UO: Do you come from a family of bakers and foodies?
Stevie has had a catering and events company, Lettice, for the last 20 years which really sparked my interest in developing a food gifting company. My background was in marketing, PR and e-commerce and he knew all about the food production side so it seemed a good match of our skills. Stevie is also a great chef and food has always played a pretty central role in our family life.
UO: What’s the creative process at Biscuiteers, from initial idea to finished product?
It’s quite a long process, the ideas will be developed by our production team and we often listen to what our customers want and feel inspired by them. We’ve just launched a gluten free range which happened as we had a huge demand from our customers. From the initial design of the biscuits to the final look of the tin sticker it can take a few months in total!
UO: What does HQ look like? Lots of busy worker bees or a small team of workers?
There are around fourteen of us in the office but we also have a big production team of anything between 30 to 50 a day, this can get even bigger during our busy periods such as Christmas or Mother’s day.
UO: Have you had any baking disasters?
Thankfully not too many, however Shrek biscuits without any ears comes to mind!
UO: What’s your favourite season or holiday at Biscuiteers and why?
Christmas is our busiest and most exciting time of the year! It’s always a bit manic towards the last few weeks but it’s so wonderful to know lots of people will be opening up tins of our biscuits on Christmas day.
UO: What’s your favourite way to spend the holiday season?
At home with my family in Suffolk. We are quite traditional and always go for a walk by the sea on Christmas eve followed by a candlelit carol service in the evening. My husband takes charge of the Christmas lunch and I might decorate a gingerbread house with my youngest daughter.
UO: The biscuit tins are something special, can you tell us how your source them?
The tins we use are traditional hand-finished square edge tins which are quite hard to get hold of. They are all designed by our brilliantly talented illustrator who has worked on all the Biscuiteers designs since we launched. It is the illustrations that make them so unique and collectable!
My favourite way to enjoy a Biscuiteers biscuit is… By giving them to someone, I love watching people’s reactions to our biscuits.
My favourite time of day is… evening. I am not a morning person.
I’m currently listening to… vintage Christmas tunes in our shops – think Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra
My favourite thing about Christmas is… the Christmas tree. I just love decorating them
In 2016 I want to… take some time to do a really long walk with some friends and hopefully open a new icing café!
- To make a strong structure, you need to use a mixture that will bake and dry firmly. You can use a classic gingerbread recipe to do this or you can use our gingerbread house kit.
- Having followed a recipe and made a batch of dough, roll it out to the size of your baking tray. Place the tray with the dough in the fridge whilst you prepare your templates.
- Whilst your dough is firming up, you can draw out your gingerbread house templates on a piece of parchment paper. Once this is done, cut out each individual part carefully.
- Remove your tray from the fridge and lay the templates out on the dough. Using a sharp knife, score around each one gently and peel away any excess dough. Be sure to cut 2 of each template. If you want hearts, doors or windows in your house, this is the time to cut them out using the knife.
- Bake your ginger bread house parts on the parchment paper for 30 mins at 128 degrees. Cool them completely before starting to decorate.
- We have chosen to decorate ours in a Hansel & Gretel theme, but you can draw design inspiration from wherever you like. Be as creative as you can!
- On the side panels, carefully ice two candy canes in white icing. Wait for a couple of minutes for it to dry slightly, then ice red stripes on top. Repeat this on the front panels, flanking the doors.
- Using the white glue icing, make a line of small dots about 3cm apart across the bottom of all 4 panels, and along the bottom of the roof panels. Before they dry, gently press smarties on top.
- Again using the white glue icing, ice tiny dots along the window panes and around the hearts. Sprinkle white sugar glitter roughly on top. Wait 5 minutes, then tip the panel upright to get rid of the excess.
- Allow your decoration to dry completely before starting to construct your house.
- To construct and decorate your house, you will need white icing to ‘stick’ each piece together and your choice of colours to decorate with.
- Using the white icing like glue, stick each piece together to construct your house. This is best done by icing along the ends of each piece and holding it firmly against another. A helpful friend may be handy at this point!
- Starting with the front panel, pipe icing on the two lower edges and then hold upright whilst you join both side panels to it.
- Repeat with the back of the house.
- The house should be sturdy enough to support itself at this point, so leave to dry for 10 minutes or until it feels secure.
- For the roof, pipe white ‘glue’ icing along the edges of the roof panels and place them on one at a time. Hold these pieces together carefully whilst they dry to avoid them sliding off.
- Once the roof is dry, ice between the panels so that the gaps are filled.
- Leave to dry completely before you start to decorate.