All posts in Christmas

Amsterdam Gingerbread House!

Merry Christmas everyone! Festive season is well and truly here – and I’m loving every minute of it. I’m a Christmas freak if you haven’t figured that out already! I’ve even discovered a radio station on our digital radio called ELF radio, playing Christmas carols 24/7. Amazing!

This weekend we went to a big Christmas BBQ, which was a great excuse to catch up with friends. I’ve been so busy lately, I feel like I’ve hardly seen anyone. Anyway, the lead up to Christmas is a great excuse to get everyone together before we all disperse off to our little pockets of the globe.

 

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In the spirit of Christmas, I thought I’d make a gingerbread house to take to the BBQ. Now this take a little planning and foresight, as I don’t have much time of an evening. You really have to make it over a few nights – it took me three! The first night I made the cookie dough. The following night I cut out and baked the walls and roof, and the final night was spent doing the fun bit, decorating. Let me tell you, it’s not for the feint hearted; my right hand had cramped from icing for a few straight hours. BUT all in all it was TOTALLY worth it. It was a hit at the party, in all it’s two-story-Amsterdam-style glory! Damn it was cute!

 

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I made my first gingerbread house two years ago – which you can see over here. I also recently shared it on instagram. It was then that somebody told me that it’s tradition to smash it with a rolling pin? Not sure how much fact there is in that, do you know? Anyway, as I made the damn thing, I get to SMASH it! Let me tell you, it takes quite a few whacks to demolish it – quite the sturdy feat of architecture. You can see the image below at the point of impact! Well, I guess you’ll have to wait another two years to see my next one (every year is a bit too much me thinks!).

Are you going to try your hand at making one this year? Let me know if you do! I want to see photos!

x e.

ps. I’ve also included some photos of us from a couple of weeks ago  in Tassie finding the perfect Christmas tree!

 

 

 

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The smash!

 

Gingerbread House

3 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1 cup plain flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
185g butter, chopped
1/2 cup golden syrup
2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 egg whites
3 cups icing sugar

 

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Combine flours, ginger, cinnamon, sugar and butter. Mix until it resembles breadcrumbs. Whisk golden syrup and eggs together in a jug and add to the dough mixture until it just comes together. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until well chilled.

2. Roll dough, 1 portion at a time, between 2 sheets baking paper until 5mm thick. Remove top layer baking paper. Using cardboard cut-outs as a guide, cut shapes from dough.

3. Line 4 baking trays with baking paper. Place gingerbread on trays. Bake, 2 trays at a time, for 15 minutes or until firm. Cool on trays.

3. Make royal icing: Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add icing sugar, beating constantly until thick.

4. Once gingerbread has cooled pipe and decorate the walls and roof. Once decorated, use icing to join the walls to the plate & the walls together (you may need an extra hand or cans of food to hold until icing dries). Use icing to attach roof to walls, using cans to support roof (to prevent it from slipping off walls) until icing dries completely. Use any sweets to finish decorating! Have fun!

Strawberry & Mint Riesling Slushie

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Well things have progressed slowly with the wedding plans, although I’ve still got a lot of the essential things that need doing. You know, just things like caterers, buses and accommodation… but THE dress has been bought! It’s amazing and I love it. Yes! Unfortunately you’re all going to have to wait until March to see it. Don’t worry, I’m sure it’s going to come around really soon. Gulp. So much to do!

 

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Righto, as you may (or may not be aware) today is the MELBOURNE CUP! It’s the race that stops the nation. (C’mon number 5, 6 or 17 – I’ve spent up a big fat $2 on each of you!). Anyway, it’s a day of fancy frocks, facinators, French champagne and fast horses – so I thought I’d better arm you with the bestest’ most delicious boozy drink to make at your Melbourne Cup party – too fun! This is a lovely (slightly sweet) fresh drink that would be perfect on a nice warm day (which today is supposed to be (in Melbourne anyway – fingers crossed). So, pop down to the shops, pick up some strawberries (they’re in season), a lime and a wine. Blitz it all in the blender then pop it in the freezer before your guests come around.

I highly recommend you give it a go. It’s something a little different for your Melbourne Cup party, or for any one of your summer BBQs.

Giddy up.

x e.

 

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Strawberry & Mint Riesling Slushie

2 1/2 cups strawberries
juice of one lime
750ml Riesling or another sweet wine
2 tbsp sugar
a handful of mint finely chopped

 

1. Set one cup of Riesling aside.

2. Place all other ingredients into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Pour the mixture into an ice tray (I used a mini loaf tin which worked perfectly) and freeze for a minimum of four hours.

3. After the mixture has frozen, place it back in the food processor with the remaining cup of Riesling and blitz until smooth. Serve immediately in glass with a cute paper straw!

Sweet Orange Marmalade

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I think marmalade gets a bit of a bad wrap. I used to go through phases when I was a kid but generally I quite liked it, just as long as it wasn’t the bitter kind. A couple of weeks ago I thought I’d try my hand at a mandarin marmalade. In fact I actually tried to make it twice, both times with no luck at all. Silly mistake, but the first time round, I’d forgotten it was on the stove. It cooked for too long and almost turned to burnt toffee! Thick and impossible to spread. My second attempt I actually ruined a cast iron pot… I don’t know what my problem was, but mandarin marmalade wasn’t my thing. However, I was dead-set on trying to make some sort of preserve with our delicious citrus fruit before it’s all out of season.

Nothing is without reason though. Whilst making the mandarin marmalade I’d discovered that it was better to blend the fruit before adding it to the pan. I thought I’d apply this knowledge to my simple orange marmalade to ensure a super smooth consistency. The one thing I disliked when I was a kid was discovering a big chunk of fruit in my jam. I can’t say it was smoother than a non-blended marmalade but the texture, for me, was perfect!

So, it may not have been the most ground breaking recipe but at least I learnt something – and that is what cooking is all about.

Now I’m interested, do you guys like marmalade? If not, perhaps you should give it another go?

:)

x e.

Ps. I have a very special recipe coming up shortly. Watch this space!

 

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Sweet Orange Marmalade

6 Valencia oranges or other sweet variety of orange

600g white sugar

 

1. Wash and peel oranges and put the skins to the side – you’ll need them later. Place the flesh of the orange in the food processor and blitz until smooth. Place the orange juice in a large heavy bottomed pan on medium heat with 3 cups of water.

2. Once the orange juice starts to boil place the sugar in the pan. Meanwhile take the skin of the oranges and cut into super fine slivers. Place about 50g of the chopped peel into the pot and let cook for about an hour. Place a small saucer in the freezer – you’ll need this to check when it’s almost ready

3. After an hour, place a small spoonful on the frozen saucer. When the marmalade is ready it’ll be a good thick consistency.

4. Next you’ll need to sterilize your jars. Wash both the jars and lids in hot soapy water and rinse them thoroughly. Place them in a preheated 140ºC oven for 10 minutes right side up. Ensure the jars aren’t touching each other and in the last 5 minutes place the lids in the oven as well. I don’t like to leave the lids in for too long otherwise the rubber seals in them melt!

Serve on thickly sliced bread with lashings of butter. So simple but so delicious.

 

 

Spiced Shortbread

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Hello again! Long time no hear! I ran out of time just before Christmas to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday break. I hope you all had a great time off; it can be a pretty manic and busy time of year. We flew down to Tassie on the Saturday before Christmas and had the pleasure of enjoying family and friend’s company 24-7 over the past two weeks. Needless to say I’m exhausted.

We spent New Years Eve on the beautiful east coast of Tasmania, in Swansea. It was amazing. We went fishing, caught squid, went bike riding and most importantly, ate lots and lots of delicious food. I have to give a special shout-out to Rob’s famous ‘Haroomi’ wraps – yep, halloumi cheese, kangaroo and his special sauce all in a tasty wrap. Good one Robby!

It’s scary to think that now, only a few towns further north of Swansea, people have lost their homes and businesses to the devastating fires that have ripped through the east coast of Tasmania. Friday was a stinking hot day with strong winds; I met up with a friend to go swimming in Dodges Ferry, which is close to one of the affected areas. I didn’t realise at the time just how close the fires were. Within just two hours the smoke, haze and severity of the fires had increased rapidly. Thousands of people from the Tasman Peninsula and east coast have lost so much over the last few days I can’t comprehend how they must be feeling. As we’re now back in Melbourne I wasn’t exactly sure how we could help out. I’ve called on people and businesses I know to donate simple goods that we all take for granted. Please, if you can, donate to help these poor people in need here via the Red Cross 2013 Tasmanian Bush Fires Appeal.

 

 

Back to the usual business – shortbread and gingerbread men are my two favourite Christmas biscuits. In the lead up to Christmas I had a lightbulb moment – why not combine them and make spiced shortbread? I couldn’t find a good recipe so I made this one up and for me, it ticks all the boxes. Again, they’re perfect as little homemade presents – any time of year.

I’ve been meaning to share this recipe since I launched the Adeline & Lumiere Christmas book but time just slipped away. I hope you all enjoyed the Christmas book!?! I had initially anticipated to print 30 books, mainly for family, friends, send some off to media people and 10 to sell. However, after I mentioned I’d be printing some I had all sorts of people interested in a copy. In the end I sold 60 but could have easily have sold double that again! I was astonished to see it so well received. Thank you so, so much! It was the best Christmas present ever.

x e.

 

 

 

Spiced Shortbread

200g softened butter
1⁄2 cup caster sugar
2 cups plain flour
1⁄4 cup rice flour 
1 1⁄2 tsp cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp mixed spice
1⁄2 tsp nutmeg

 

1. Preheat oven to 160ºC and line a tray with grease proof paper.

2.  Beat butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Sift flour, rice flour and spices into the mixture and be careful not to over mix.

3.  Press the mixture onto the prepared tray. Place a piece of grease proof paper over the top and roll out with a rolling pin. Use a butter knife to mark out biscuits and prick each one 3 times with a fork.

4.  Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes or until slightly browned. Cool on the tray for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a board and cut into pieces. Cool on a rack and wrap up for the perfect little gift.

Traditional Christmas Cake – best ever

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I’ve discovered there are quite a few people in this world who don’t  like Christmas cake. I can’t believe it! Christmas cake would have to be one of my favourite treats out there (as long as I have a corner slice with marzipan and icing – that’s the best part). Like it of loath it, this is my version of the famous seasonal cake (with a little extra this and that, soaked in booze) and I love it!

x e.

 

Traditional Christmas Cake

Inspired by Delia Smith (I love her).

450g currants
175g sultanas
175g raisins
50g dried cranberries
50g mixed candied peel
3 tbsp Grand Marnier,
plus extra for ‘feeding’
225g unsalted butter
225g soft brown sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
225g plain flour
1⁄2 tsp salt
1⁄2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground mixed spice
50g almonds, chopped
50g walnuts, chopped
1 level tbsp golden syrup
grated zest 1 lemon
grated zest 1 orange
20cm cake tin

1 packet of marzipan
1 packet of icing fondant

 

1.  Start the day before and measure out currants, sultanas, raisins, cranberries and peel into a bowl and mix the Grand Marnier through the fruit thoroughly. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to soak overnight.

2.  Next day, preheat oven to 120ºC (fan forced). Place butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until pale and creamy.  Whilst continuing to beat, add eggs a tablespoon at a time until incorporated.  This will prevent the mixture curdling.

3.  Sift in flour, spices and salt into the butter mixture. Lift the sieve up high to add as much air as possible. Gently fold in flour into the mixture until it just comes together.

4.  Fold in the soaked fruit, nuts, golden syrup and  zests to the mixture. Ensure everything is well mixed and place into a well lined tin, pushing the mixture into the corners.  The cake will be in the oven for at least 4 hours so it’ll need to be  protected so it doesn’t burn. Place 2 layers of  baking paper over the top with a few large holes to allow steam to pass through. Wrap two layers of grease proof paper around the cake tin and hold it in place with a piece of twine. This will protect the outer edge.

5.   Place in the oven on the lowest shelf and leave it for 4 hours. Check the cake after this time. You’ll probably need to place it back in the oven for up to another 3/4 hour. Let the cake cool for 30 minutes in the tin before putting it on a wire rack.  Once it’s cool, make small holes in the top of the cake with a skewer and ‘feed’ it at least a tablespoon of Grand Marnier or brandy over the whole cake.

6.  To ice the cake, roll out marzipan big enough to cover the cake completely. Place it over the cake and press it down along all sides. Do the same for the fondant and flatten it all out around the edges. Decorate the cake with any excess fondant.

Christmas Gifts: Lemoncello

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We’re now officially in December so it’s time to start thinking about presents people. Why not make some delicious homemade lemoncello? You’ll need at least 10 days for it to sit and let the lemons infuse so get your skates on. My dad LOVES lemoncello and has been harping on about how his mates have made their own. Dad – you were my inspirations and this now proves that I do listen to you!

Decorate the bottles up with some ribbon, a small Christmas decoration or a little tag and it’s the perfect homemade gift.

x e.

 

Deliciously Lemony Lemoncello

750ml litres 100 Proof Grain Vodka – Smirnoff is fine 
10 washed organic lemons – peeled
3  cups water
2 1/4 cups sugar

 

1.  Wash and dry the lemons and remove the peels with a vegetable peeler; careful to only peel the rind and not the pith (the white portion). Place the lemon peels into a large sterilised glass container with an wide mouth & an airtight lid. Pour the alcohol on top & seal with lid. Keep the container in a cool dry dark place. Shake it once a day for approximately 10 days.

2.  On the 11th day, make a simple sugar syrup by boiling the water and sugar and stirring often until well combined. Take off of heat and let it cool completely.

3.  Remove the lemon peels from your jar and discard. Strain the liquid with a sieve or coffee filter into the sugar syrup. Pour the lemoncello into sterilised  bottles and leave them at least once month before consuming.

Note – I found my lemoncello had some sediments that sat on the top. I was a little worried that I hadn’t sterilised the bottles properly but I read up on it and found that this is quite normal. Chill and shake before serving over ice.

Christmas Plum Pudding Cupcakes

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I love baking and cupcakes are so simple to whip up for any last minute occasion. This is my little Christmas tweak to the usual vanilla flavour I normally bake. They’re deliciously spiced boozy plum pudding cupcakes! The boozy flavour comes from from the icing but if you like an extra hit, brush a little brandy over the top! Phowar!

This recipe along with others are available for download in the FREE Christmas PDF I’ve put together which is download able here. Go on, try these these this weekend!

Enjoy my lovelies!

x e.

 

Plum Pudding Cupcakes

170g plain flour
100g brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
40g butter at room temperature
2 tbsp golden syrup
120ml milk
1 whisked egg
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup sultanas
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon

250g sifted icing sugar
80g unsalted butter at room temperature
25ml rum

 

1.  Preheat oven to 170ºC.  Place flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and butter into a bowl and mix until it becomes a sandy consistency.

2.  In a small bowl, add milk and golden syrup and microwave for 20 seconds. The golden syrup should be runny enough to mix well into the milk. Add this into the other bowl a little bit at a time. Add the whisked egg into the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated.

3.  Add sultanas, raisins, and spices to the mixture and mix well.

4.  Fill the paper cases two-thirds full with the mixture and bake in the preheated oven for 17 minutes or until golden brown. You should be able to smell the cupcakes wafting from the oven when they’re done. Cool on a wire rack.

5. To make the icing, place the icing sugar in a bowl with the butter. Mix well until incorporated and add the rum a little at a time until the icing is at a good consistency. Ice the cupcakes once they’re cool.

*If you’d like your plum pudding cupcakes a little extra boozy, brush a little bit of rum over the top with a brush before icing.

Best Ever Spiced Mulled Wine

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Augh what a weekend! My sister popped up from Hobart on Friday so we went for a very quick bite to eat at Mamasita (delish) followed by a trip to the footy (Cats vs Hawks). Now we’re not massive fans of football (and we don’t particularly support either of these teams) but this was one of the best games I have EVER seen! We decided to go for the Cats which is my niece’s team (which she chose because she likes pussy cats – cute!). On the final siren the cats ended up kicking the winning goal… nail biting stuff! There’s nothing like the atmosphere of the footy at the MCG, a real Melbourne night out!

 

 

Sunday was a very busy day baking, photographing and celebrating as we had Seb’s Aunty’s 70th birthday that afternoon (HAPPY BIRTHDAY HEATHER –  I know you’re reading this). She’s Adeline & Lumiere’s biggest fan! So to help celebrate I made a few little goodies. I started off with a batch of Madeleines, these are now my fail-proof, fall-back recipe (check out my recipe for these here). I also made a little something else… but you might have to wait until next week to see what that is!

 

 

For this weeks post I decided to make a batch of wonderfully spicy, winter-warming mulled wine. My friend Jenna has been talking about mulled wine for the past few weeks which inspired me to make some for myself! And with the end of winter just around the corner (THANK GOODNESS!) I thought I’d better get a wriggle on. I’ve read quite a few recipes for mulled wine, all of which vary quite significantly. My recipe has taken (in my opinion) the best ingredients and techniques from a range of recipes and tweaked them again for good measure. I’ve said this before; I’m no wine connoisseur and I’m DEFINITELY not a mulled wine connoisseur either but I think this tastes delicious. Of course it goes without saying, if it doesn’t have enough ‘zing’ for your liking, add a few more spices to taste.

Happy hiccup drinking.

x e.

 

 

Best Ever Mulled Wine

750ml red wine
150g castor sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
peel of one lemon
peel of one orange
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
5 cloves
1 tsp fresh nutmeg
pinch of ginger

 

1.  Place all ingredient except the wine into a large saucepan and place on medium heat. Add just a small glug of red wine to the pan to ensure the sugar is covered and let it cook for 4-5 minutes until it becomes thick and sticky. This should let all the spices infuse well.

2.  Once the mixture has become sticky enough, add the rest of the wine and turn down the heat. You don’t want the wine to boil otherwise all the alcohol will evaporate!!! Let cook for 5 minutes and serve hot with slices with fresh orange.

Tomato & Apple Chutney (great for gifts!)

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I love the lead up to Christmas. It’s always so manic and busy but I love it all the same. This week, to add to all the Christmas fanfare, we were invited to our very first Pickle Club. We had heard about this famous gathering of pickles before we moved up to Melbourne and were both looking forward to our first event.

So here’s the deal. You make 6 jars of delicious homemade pickles (or chutney, relish, jams, cordials, pesto…. anything that keeps) and then swap them for 6 other amazing jars of varied goodness.  Pretty simple!

There were so many mouth watering flavours to choose from.  It was so hard to choose only 6!  After much deliberation we chose: Coriander, Kaffir Lime & Chili Pesto, Lemon Curd, Pickled Shallots, Apricot & Honey Jam, Mango & Strawberry Cordial & Roasted Tomato and Chilli Relish. Yuuu-um!

There was even a mini pop-up shop at Pickle Club! Our creative friend Milly isn’t only the best cook this side of Melbourne but she’s a ‘crafty’ little devil too! She has made a range of beautiful little Christmas decorations available in all sorts of shapes and sizes. She’s currently selling them for $6 each (bar-gain!) so get your mitts on some (message me and I can give you the details). I’ve also been advised there may be discounts if buying in bulk. (Photos below)

I’m also extremely excited to be heading home to Hobart for Christmas! Yiippppeeee!  Christmas drinks on Salamanca Lawns (a yearly tradition), The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, the Taste of Tasmania (mmmm… yummy food and heavenly wine), a trip out to MONA museum and MONA FOMA festival!  It’s without a doubt the best time of year in Tasmania.  Anyway, I look forward to a nice relaxing break which (might or might not) mean a week or two break from the blog… but I PROMISE I will be back.

To all readers out there I hope you have a very Merry Christmas (or any other holiday you may be celebrating) and a safe and happy New Year! Mwah!

x e.

 

Gift tags and wrapping paper by up and coming designers at The Full Drop Collective.
Contact them here for purchases: - fulldropco(at)gmail.com

(Above) Beautiful Aura Home napery – from the talented Melbourne designer Tracy Ellis.

 

(Below) Well aren’t these the prettiest pickles and chutneys you’ve ever seen!?! Sweet little
Christmas decorations made with love, by Milly.

 

Tomato & Apple Chutney

Makes enough for an army!

3kgs Tomatoes
6-8 peeled Granny Smith apples
6 onions
1 tbsp Curry powder
2 bananas
10 cloves
a few good splashes of Worcestershire sauce
splash of white vinegar
1/2 cup of sugar

10 sterilized jars

 

1. Blanch tomatoes by covering them in boiling water for 15 – 30 seconds then drop into ice cold water to stop them from cooking. Wait until they’ve cooled then peel off the skin on all the tomatoes. (You may need some help with this!)

2. Add all ingredients into a large heavy based pot with a cup of water and place on the lowest heat for a few hours until reduced to a nice thick consistency. Remember to stir every 20 minutes to prevent the bottom from burning.

3. To sterilize the jars, heat the oven to 180ºC. Wash all in hot soapy water and rinse well. Place all jars on a oven tray facing up and not touching each other and pop them in the oven for 20 minutes. After this time, take them out of the oven and let cool to the same temperature as the chutney. Never add cold chutney to hot jars or vice versa!

Gingerbread Men

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Awww… Christmas isn’t Christmas until you bake a batch of gingerbread men. My cute little niece loves baking gingerbread men (even when it’s not Christmas) but I think she loves making it so she can eat the dough. She must get that from our side of the family! Seb doesn’t like to eat cookie dough (which I think is abnormal). I think I prefer it to the end cooked result! Is that abnormal?

I baked these and brought them to work last week (my colleagues love me) and out of all the biscuits I’ve baked, these all went in record time. I bought a cute baby cutter the week before so there were even little baby ginger…er…babies! Just itty bitty mouthfuls! The baby gingerbread men are so cute but I discovered that you have to watch them a bit closer in the oven as they tend to cook a little quicker than the larger ones – little example below.

x e.

 

Mmmm… milk and gingerbread cookies!

 

Gingerbread Men

Melted butter, to grease
125g butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup, firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup golden syrup
1 egg, separated
2 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 tbs ground ginger
Plain flour, to dust
150g (1 cup) pure icing sugar, sifted

1. Preheat oven to 180°C.

2. Beat butter & sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy. Add the golden syrup and egg yolk and beat until combined.

3. Stir in the flour & ginger until completely incorporated. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.

4. Meanwhile, to make the icing, place egg white in a clean, dry bowl and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add icing sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.

5. Once the dough has chilled roll out on a floured surface until about 4mm thick & use a gingerbread (or any other shape!) to cut out shapes. Place on the tray and repeat with any excess dough.

6. Bake in oven for 10 minutes or until brown. Remove from oven. Transfer to a rack to cool.

7. Once cooled, decorate the gingerbread with the icing in a piping bag.