This Christmas was a little busy for me, and I didn’t have time to make even a gingerbread biscuit, let alone the traditional gingerbread stupidity. But this site has given me the perfect excuse to manufacture myself a terrifyingly huge heap of gingerbread, and, because it’s not Christmas, there’s no family around and I can eat it all myself. I should definitely do this more often. The ziggurat I made was based on Woolley’s reconstruction of the ziggurat of Ur, which looks like this:
You may notice some enormous differences, like the fact that mine seems somehow squished, and not quite as wide as it should be. That’s mainly the fault of the cake board. And the baker. If you want to make this (I highly recommend it – gingerbread, it turns out, is delicious at any time of the year), this is how:
First, make the gingerbread:
- 250g butter
- 7 tbsp golden syrup
- 600g plain flour
- 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 200g dark brown sugar
- 6 tsp ground ginger (I like my gingerbread so strong it burns my tongue. If you are making this, as I’m sure everyone who reads this blog does, you may want a little less).
- Preheat the over to 200°C.
- Melt the butter, syrup and sugar in a pan.
- Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, then pour the butter, syrup and sugar mixture into it.
- Stir until the mixture forms a dough.
- Leave to rest.
Then, make up some templates. I suggest starting with the four sides of the ziggurat base, and then building templates from there. That’s mainly because the sides should lean in at an angle, and no matter how perfectly you cut the templates and the gingerbread, there’ll be some slipping in the icing, and that might leave all your other gingerbread cut-outs useless. Building up is definitely the way to go in this case. The gingerbread should be rolled out to about a quarter of a centimetre thickness, and baked in the oven for about 5-15 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces.
You’ll also need a good quantity of royal icing – i used around 400g worth of icing sugar and 2 egg whites, and coloured it with espresso. Use the icing to stick together the gingerbread cut-outs. Surround the edges of the ‘stairs’ and the bottom tier with chocolate fingers, and use mini-marshmallows to make the crenellations. If you want to go for the sandcastle look, as I apparently did, use crumbled cake offcuts to surround the ziggurat. Then, use black royal icing and a toothpick to draw in the stairs.
And you’re done. Well, actually you’re ready for the best bit of making a gingerbread house, which is covering it in inappropriately scaled, poorly decorated, jelly baby dioramas. Here, for example, is the moon god Nanna (with horned helmet) presenting a poorly draw rod and coil to Ur-Namma (with bead and silly hat and touching his nose):
And here is an overseer (with cuneiform tablet) looking somewhat suspiciously (use your imagination) at what’s been built instead of actual stairs, while a worker looks on:
Next week – I’m hungry for fondant. So something with fondant.