This time last week I was invited along to a gingerbread house bake-off with NEFF and Currys PC World.
I say invited; my friend Lisa from Pass the Prosecco was invited, and I thought I’d see if I could wangle myself a plus one because we’re re-doing our kitchen next year, and you just never know when you might stumble across the oven of your dreams.
Also, I do love any excuse to leave the house before bedtime.
So passing the kids merrily over to my husband, off to London I went.
After faffing around on public transport for so long I was a sweaty mess, I just about made it to L’atelier des Chefs in time to shove some cheese and prosecco in my face, before we were split into three teams and given the task of making a festive gingerbread cottage as part of the Currys PC World gingerbread house bake-off.
Now, I’d be the first to admit that a baker I am not.
I’ve always figured that if you can buy stuff ready made, then there’s not a lot of point slaving over a hot oven because the end result is generally the same; the kids refuse to eat it and give it to the dog, or else I eat it and then complain that I’m fat.
I’m also pretty rubbish at following recipes or in fact any kind of instructions, no matter how simple.
However, a making a gingerbread house can’t be hard, can it?
I was put into a team with seven other lovely women including Sarah from Kippers & Curtains, who also had limited experience in creating gingerbread architecture.
We were given a template and pre-rolled gingerbread dough which we had to cut, bake, put together and decorate in as festive a way as we could manage. Despite our ever-so-slight ineptitude, between us we managed to get the dough cut to the template and into the oven, and make sure it didn’t burn to a crisp.
The ovens at L’atelier des Chefs are swanky NEFF Slide & Hide ovens.
The Slide & Hide ovens are pretty nifty because as the name suggests, the oven door pulls down and then slides down into a cavity underneath the oven, meaning easier access to your food. It also makes them easier to clean (apparently that’s a thing? Who knew) and it means that if you’re a total klutz in the kitchen you won’t burn yourself on the oven door getting your food out.
The were also good for watching and getting your food out at just the right time.
The secret to a successful gingerbread house bake is, so we were told, to make sure that the comes out of the oven while it’s still fairly malleable so you can correct any mistakes quickly before it gets hard, because then it will crack, and you definitely wouldn’t want that.
Baked, it just needed to be assembled, iced and decorated.
Pretty simple, you might think.
It started out so well.
I decorated the roof with chocolate buttons – pro tip, if you do it while it’s still warm, they melt on and you don’t have to ice them. Winner.
However I think somewhere along the way, a little too much mulled wine may have been drunk (not sorry), a roof may have become a wall and vice versa, and well….
It didn’t stand a chance. No amount of icing could save it.
We called it our post-Brexit bomb shelter/crack den. Whichever is less offensive.
I won’t hold you in suspense, we didn’t win.
Two of the walls were taken for train journey snacks before the judging had even taken place.
We did, however, have a lot of festive fun with some lovely people, and surely that’s what counts.
Here is the official Currys write up of the evening; see if you can spot me!
The good pictures are courtesy of Curry’s PC World; the naff ones are mine. I was invited along to this event for free. It was good fun, cheers.