That degree in engineering was useful for something…

by maggie

This year I finally succumbed to an ikea pepparkaka hus. Of course it was never going to be sufficient to cover the thing with smarties so I got some extra gingerbread dough for home improvements. Here’s the finished home.

Holly Cottage

Holly Cottage

Below you can follow the construction which satisfied my inner Engineer and QS.

In this first image you can just about  see window frames, a hedge of clubs and spades, fret work for above the windows.

base and hedge

base and hedge

On the left, a picture frame shaped piece of ginger bread covered in sesame seeds is the base with the internal dimensions suitable for anchoring the house walls. In the second we have more shapes for aggressively non-denomination decoration, a front porch and some cooks perks.imageNot being very familiar with the working properties of water icing or biscuit dough I wanted to err on the side of caution. The last thing anyone wants is a catastrophic collapse – you just can’t get a call out over the festive period.

I only have one forcing bag- or rather that’s my excuse for not decoration the walls before assembly. The window frames, porch and window decorations got iced on first. I used 250g of golden icing sugar altogether building the house and a splitting sugar headache; and a further 250g for the decorations. I left things dry at each stage to give the bonding a chance to work. The icing was rather stiff so it didn’t always stick to the biscuit well at first.

here you can see the add on to the basic structure, which was built inside the sesame covered base

here you can see the add ons to the basic structure, which was built inside the sesame covered base

your basic ginger bread house

your basic ginger bread house

I brought the roof tiles at the same time as the hus. They were all stuck together and the QS was a bit concerned about coverage. However a bit of judicious cutting enabled them to be separated. I think the ridge tiles were a particular cunning solution to covering up the join. I was beginning to run out of icing by the time it came to lay the tiles so there not up to the required standard – definitely a Friday afternoon job. But by the time all the decoration is on it’ll all be fine.

Here are the snow men auditioning. At the time of purchasing the hus I thought they’d be a good addition to the property with their jaunty salsa-ing.

wannabe snowmen

wannabe snowmen

I’m afraid one soul will be eliminated immediately, hopefully some of the others will become less faceted with time.

This is the finished line up. I’m not sure what their part will take in the festivities as the house is rather decorated with foliage. They’d do well in a zombie apocalypse I guess.

all very smart, with icing noses and fizzy, sour scarves

all very smart, with icing noses and fizzy, sour scarves

When is saw the holly leaf cake decoration I knew they were going to be a vital part of the finished product.

But I didn’t think that they’d take over quite so much.

imageI kept going until I ran out of holly leaves. And the christmas trees they are from our favourite homeward store too. My subcontractor who made them from marzipan fretted that they were a bit rough and ready – but I don’t think the topiary police will be after us in this case…

the topiary police at large

the topiary police at large annihilating leylandii

Here are the other three walls of the house before I put up the hedge.The initials are for the people coming to festive lunch. After I trained the holly up the walls, it was given free reign over the roof.

can we date this artefact?

can we date this artefact?

the pargetting on the chimney could go with some work

the pargetting on the chimney could go with some work

image

 

Now we just hope it survives intact for a week.

Lessons learnt.

If you are going to make icing out of fruit juice make sure none of the bits are bigger than the nozzle of the icing thing.

Very little water can change the consistency of the icing.

Ideally ice everything while flat, but don’t let that get in the way of creativity.  almost all the icing was done in the vertical apart from the bits which were obviously iced on after. I didn’t have a clear idea of what the finished house would look like, but i’m happy with the way it turned out.
Next year…

Take things slow and steady – in this case four days. Oh and icing sugar takes up a much smaller volume when wet.

I hope you enjoy my folly. I did.

MER
Edit 29/12/14
OM NOM NOM

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