There is a story behind this, so I shall start there. My boyfriend is an architect. This year he finally qualified after seven and a half years of higher education. He has also finally got planning permission on this Grade II* listed Saxon church, which was under threat of demolition. As he has around 4 times my income and only really wants building materials and property for Christmas I decided to make his little church to scale in gingerbread.
Here she is, with her new roof:
And here she is - in gingerbread.
Alongside the challenge of it all being edible I had a few extra challenges:
- Avoid being strangled by my mother for obliterating her kitchen over Christmas
Not make it too sweet, because then my boyfriend's family wouldn't like it
Manage on a budget with no access to a proper supermarket
After last year's gingerbread nativity ended up being held together with bits of wire and lolly sticks I discovered that cookie gingerbread and structurally sound gingerbread are rather different. So I looked up a new recipe and found most of the ingredients. Unfortunately I didn't realise that I was meant to level off the tablespoons of golden syrup. So I ended up adding more flour until I had a spare mountain of gingerbread dough (which turned into a nativity for my Dad):
I was once again worried about the structural stability of my gingerbread. With the help of my Dad and his blowtorch I made candy cane RSJs to support the structure:
After lots of measuring from photos and the one plan I could find I worked out the scale of the building, made a template and made pieces out of gingerbread:
After making all 20 odd pieces I managed to spectacularly drop the box they were in onto the kitchen floor. Luckily the floor was clean(thanks Mum) and despite my scream that left me with a sore throat for 2 days and woke my parents only two pieces broke and I 'cemented' them back together.
I wanted to use boiled sweets for the windows but couldn't get hold of any(well, not in my budget) so I melted gummy bears, which look really good as Victorian glazing. The burns to my fingers weren't too nice though.
I also did some stained glass ones from coloured gummy bears for the right windows. I made the roof tiles as accurately as possible by using coursed(different sized slates, getting smaller as they go upwards) 'slates' from milk chocolate over the Nave to represent the Westmoorland slate and regimented dark chocolate slates on all of the other rooves to be Welsh slate. I also cut little crosses out of the brown part of square dolly mixtures for finials and put a jelly dolly mixture bell in the bellcote.
So here it is held together with RSJs and the Welsh slate rooves on:
There is also the only light we could find - a red tinged bike light that made the church look warm and glowing. Fixing it down was a challenge and we drilled a whole in the base to poke a pen up to switch it on. It also has a flashing mode that the children loved because they thought it looked like the church was on fire.
And here it is with the roof on...
You can see that I went over the white sticking icing with my fudge icing to make it look like lime mortar and round the edges of the windows with a piping syringe to make the window edging look like sculpted stone. I also did some 'leading' with black writing icing.
I had a bit of a job putting the cola drain pip on so I used breadsticks to act as acroprops while the icing dried:
There are some other little details like the dolly mixture and angelica tree ferns (his favourite plants) and the couscous and white chocolate path, which looks just like the new path he's just had laid.
Phew, sorry there's not pictures with the lights on. We had to put it out of reach of my niece quite quickly and I didn't get a chance. Christmas with an immediate family of 10 is hectic!
Hope you like it. It was rather a mission but I'm glad I finally have something that I'm not ashamed to post.