The tentative first blog post. Keep it simple. Keep it punchy. Whatever you do Al, definitely don’t get out of your depth. “We’ve nominated you to build the Clifton Suspension Bridge out of gingerbread.” Awesome. Sure. I’ll get right onto that.
A few rough, indiscernible sketches later – none of which looked anything like the lovely scrapbook-esque designs that you see on GBBO that I was shooting for in my head – with some cardboard stencils fashioned out of an old Amazon delivery box and a couple of batches of gingerbread dough ready to go, we began our bake. What they don’t show you on TV is when your rolling pin technique has become so detrimental to your bake that you’ve actually started rolling dents and cracks into your dough. Nevertheless, after some precision cutting and a lot of ‘mansplaining’ of how we were going to get each carefully calibrated shape from the table, to the tray, and into the oven intact, our first batch of gingerbread masonry went into the oven…
…And were dropped to the floor as we tried to get them out. “What time are we on?” “It’s 11.30.” “Leave it and try again tomorrow?” “Alex I’m not going to bed until there’s a ****ing gingerbread bridge on the table, cooling and waiting to be glued together.” “Ah. Right. Back to it then.”
Thankfully, an hour or two later, that’s just what we had. Eight tower/column panels, two roof panels and one long gingerbread road to stretch between the two; a reminder of the daunting journey ahead.
When it came to decorating, we opted for lazy and bought-in (thanks Dr. Oetker), reusing our Amazon Prime stencils from the previous day. The eight column panels, two roof panels and one road panel were starting to look like they could eventually be the suspension bridge they were destined to become. Five or so hours in, filled with dread, we grabbed our edible glue and began constructing. A steady hand and time to kill are the recipe for success here. Pro tip: don’t get cocky and leave your towers to hold themselves up while the glue is still drying. It won’t end well.
The genuine rush when things seemed to be holding and we decided we’d pulled it off was absurd. We grabbed a few photos, knowing that time, whilst a great healer, was probably going to ravage this construction in a matter of minutes. Next up? The Great Wall of China made out of cheese and onion pasties. Merry Christmas!
Our Gingerbread Recipe:
- 500g unsalted butter
- 400g dark muscovado sugar
- 14 tbsp golden syrup
- 1200g plain flour
- 4tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 4tsp ground ginger
(If you’re not attempting a feat of gingerbread civil engineering, halve the ingredients) Melt the sugar and wet ingredients in a pan. Mix the bicarb’, flour and ground ginger. Combine the two and stir into a firm dough before rolling out onto a sheet of baking paper. Grab your cookie cutters or go fancy ‘n’ free-hand with your designs, then gently slide onto a baking tray and bake for 12 minutes or until you think they’ve transitioned from cake to biscuit. Decorate with icing and Christmassy sweet things, or construct a sketchy homage to an iconic Bristolian landmark. It’s entirely your choice.