CHRISTMAS PAST AND PRESENT .
Christmas is a very busy time of year for all us Cake-shakers, with mince pies, christmas cakes, yule logs, puddings etc, the list is endless I tell you ! And I always end the season of goodwill smelling of brandy, marzipan and sugar, and it takes me ages to get all the royal icing out of my hair (yes yes its icing believe me it gets all over the shop )
But my mind always goes back to when I was at college in Watford on a two year full time bakery diploma course, and to Christmas in particular; especially as a 2nd year student in 1985 when the whole class had to make gingerbread houses, or “Hexenhausen” as their original German name is pronounced. Germans started making them in the late 1700’s when the story of Hansel & Gretal was popular & translates as “witches house” in English ( not very seasonal I know, but sweet I think still).
When the whole class had made them, the Watford Gazette would come to the college and take a picture of all the students and their creations to go in the papers Christmas edition. I am sure the one I am in has me pulling faces with my friend, Lindsay .
I do remember that year we had a student from Kenya called Daniel. He decided to actually make a Gingerbread mud hut, it challenged the lecturers on how to shape the dough but they managed it by making a cone mould out of cardboard. My fellow student, Karlia, can be seen wearing the cone on her head in one photo. Nevertheless I think Daniel’s house stole the show with its originality .
Nearly 25 years years later I am still making the houses. I have made so many over the years: most have been raffled for charities at places I worked. One was even donated to a children’s ward at a hospital, and recently I have been selling them at Love Bakery on the kings road.
I have decided to share the recipe on my blog: its made from a German dough called Lebkuchen, or spiced honey dough. It makes your whole house smell like it’s been mugged by Christmas and gets better the longer you keep it !
Have a go, I hope I have made it easy for you with the step by step method gallery. You don’t have to decorate like I have, just stick your favourite sweets all over it and smother it with royal icing. So Click here and get started, And a merry cake-shaking Christmas to you all ! 🙂
© The cake-shaker 2010