The December 2021 Bake Off Box challenge was a Christmas Gingerbread Cake – gingerbread flavoured sponge cake filled with spiced buttercream and decorated with gingerbread houses and trees!
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This is the final Bake Off Box as unfortunately, the monthly subscription service has now ended. This month my box contained ingredients to help me make this Christmas gingerbread cake! I have made it ready for Christmas day so I haven’t tried any yet but it smells amazing 😊
(This is not a sponsored/affiliate post so I don’t get anything for sharing this blog post – it’s just me sharing my experience!).
THE DECEMBER 2021 BAKE OFF BOX CONTENTS
This month my box contained the following:
- Recipe card
- Pre-measured dry ingredients for the recipe (I needed to supply the baking powder, salt, butter, eggs and milk)
- Bake Off apron, gingerbread template* and two piping bags
*I’ve included a scan of the gingerbread template at the bottom of this post – just click the image and print it out 😊
DECEMBER 2021 BAKE OFF BOX: CHRISTMAS GINGERBREAD CAKE
I’ve typed up the full recipe and instructions (recipe created by The Great British Bake Off, not myself) – you can find it at the bottom of this post!
BAKE OFF BOX CHRISTMAS GINGERBREAD CAKE: MY VERDICT
I’m yet to taste this cake as I’m keeping it for Christmas day (tomorrow!) but I’m sure it’s going to be delicious. I might have had a little taste of the spiced buttercream and can give a thumbs up to that!
This did take several hours to make, so give yourself plenty of time. I actually made it over two days; I made the sponge cakes and gingerbread one day and then stored them in airtight containers overnight. The next day I decorated the gingerbread, made the buttercream and then assembled the cake!
I’m not the most skilled at icing biscuits, and I’ve not tried ‘flooding icing’ before so it was fun to use this method to ice the roofs on the houses!
I will check back in here after Christmas to give my verdict on the cake. But for now, I hope you all have a lovely Christmas and thank you so much for following along with my Bake Off Box posts and my blog generally. Your support means a lot and I’m looking forward to sharing more of my own recipes in the new year!
OTHER BAKE JO FESTIVE RECIPES TO TRY:
- Black Forest Swiss Roll
- No-Bake Baileys Cheesecake
- No-Churn Mince Pie Ice Cream
- Christmas Berry Pavlova Wreath
- Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake
- White Chocolate Coconut Truffles
- No-Bake Mint Chocolate Cheesecake
- Cocoa Dusted Chocolate Truffles
- Gingerbread Latte Cake
The Bake Off Box: Christmas Gingerbread Cake
- 2 x 20cm sandwich tins (5cm deep)
- Baking paper
- 2 medium mixing bowls
- Electric hand whisk (or wooden spoon)
- Small bowl
- Large metal spoon
- Palette knife
- Balloon whisk
- Wire cooling rack (or clean metal insert of a grill pan)
- Cling film
- Rolling Pin
- Small, sharp knife
- Large baking sheet (38 x 33cm)
- Cake stand or cake plate
- Cocktail stick
- Fine cake-decorating paintbrush (or a regular paintbrush that is washed and cleaned)
- Large and small piping bag
For the sponges
- 325 g plain flour
- 2 + 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 25 g spice mix (see below on how to make the spice mix)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 250 g unsalted butter room temperature, plus extra for greasing
- 300 g dark brown soft sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 150 ml whole milk room temperature
For the gingerbread
- 165 g plain flour
- 15 g spice mix (see below on how to make the spice mix)
- 75 g unsalted butter cut into small cubes
- 85 g dark brown soft sugar
- 1 large egg separated
For the spiced buttercream
- 150 g unsalted butter softened
- 390 g icing sugar
- 10 g spice mix (see below on how to make the spice mix)
- 2 tbsp whole milk
For the royal icing
- 100 g icing sugar
For the spice mix
- 35 g ground ginger
- 15 g mixed spice
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/Gas 4. Grease, then base line two 20cm-diameter (5cm deep) sandwich tins with baking paper.
Make the sponges
- Sift the flour, baking powder, 25g of spice mix and the salt into a bowl, then set the mixture aside until you're ready to use it.
- In another mixing bowl, using an electric hand whisk (or a wooden spoon, but this will take longer), cream the butter and dark brown soft sugar together for 3-5 minutes, until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- One at a time, add the eggs, beating well between each addition and making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next.
- Add half of the flour mixture and, using a large metal spoon (or spatula), fold it in until just combined.
- Add half of the milk and mix until just combined. Add the remaining half of the flour mixture, then the remaining half of the milk and mix until just combined, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
- Divide the batter equally between the prepared tins.
- Smooth the batter with a palette knife or the back of a spoon to create a level surface, then bake the sponges for 30-35 minutes, until golden and starting to pull away from the inside of the tin. The sponges should spring back when you lightly press them in the centre.
- Remove the sponges from the oven and leave them to cool in the tins on a wire rack (or clean metal insert from a grill pan) for 5 minutes, then turn them out onto the rack and peel off the baking paper. Leave the sponges to cool while you make the gingerbread.
Make the gingerbread
- Tip the flour, 15g of spice mix, butter and dark brown soft sugar into a clean mixing bowl.
- Using an electric hand whisk (or a balloon whisk, but this will take longer), mix on slow speed until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
- Separate the egg and place the egg white in a small bowl, then whisk it with a fork. Measure 1 tablespoon of egg white and add it to the gingerbread mixture, along with the egg yolk. Keep the remaining egg white to use later for the icing.
- Mix the gingerbread mixture on slow speed (or with your balloon whisk) until it begins to clump together.
- Turn out the dough onto your work surface and knead it lightly into a ball – the warmth of your hands will help bring the dough together. If the dough is a little crumbly, add a tiny bit more egg white.
- Pat the dough into a disc about 2cm thick, wrap it in cling film and place it in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes.
- While the dough is chilling, take the gingerbread template sheet* (I've added this just above this recipe card – just click the image to print it out!) and trace the templates for the gingerbread shapes onto a sheet of paper and cut them out.
- Dust your work surface with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll out the gingerbread dough into a rectangle measuring about 40 x 30cm, and 2mm thick. Using the baking-paper templates and a small, sharp knife, cut out 1 large and 6 small trees; 2 roofs, 2 sides and 2 ends for the 3-dimensional house; and 5 small (1-dimensional) house shapes. Re-roll the trimmings if you need to.
- Line a large (38 x 33cm) baking sheet (or use two smaller baking trays) with baking paper. Using a palette knife, one by one carefully transfer the gingerbread pieces to the lined baking sheet. Chill the pieces for 15 minutes in the fridge. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/Gas 4.
- Bake the biscuits for 12 minutes, until they are a little darker around the edges. Leave them to cool and harden up on the baking sheet.
Make the buttercream
- Meanwhile, using an electric hand whisk (or a wooden spoon), beat the butter in a clean mixing bowl for 3-5 minutes on medium speed, until pale and fluffy. Sift the icing sugar and 10g of spice mix on top.
- Add the 2 tablespoons of milk, then beat until light, creamy and spreadable – about 3-5 minutes on medium speed with an electric whisk (longer with a wooden spoon).
Assemble the cake
- Spoon two tablespoons of the buttercream into a small bowl and set it aside to use later (to fix the gingerbread shapes to the side of the cake). Spread about one third of the remaining buttercream on top of one of the sponges, then place the second sponge on top.
- Transfer the stacked sponges to a cake stand or plate and, using a palette knife, spread the remainder of the large portion of buttercream over the top and around the side of the cake to a smooth, even layer. Set the cake aside.
Make the royal icing
- Sift the icing sugar into a small bowl and add 2 teaspoons of the reserved egg white (from making the gingerbread). Using an electric hand whisk (or a balloon whisk), beat the icing, adding more egg white if necessary, until the icing just holds its shape when it falls from the whisk. Spoon two thirds of the icing into the large piping bag and set aside. Leave the remaining one third in the bowl.
- Make some 'flooding icing' (a looser icing that will flow more easily) for the roofs. Add a little water, just a tiny amount at a time to the remaining one third of royal icing in the bowl until it just flows and the ripples in the icing disappear when you tap the bowl. Don't make the icing too thin. Spoon this icing into the small piping bag.
Decorate the gingerbread
- Snip a very small hole in the end of the large piping bag and pipe the outline of the roofs on all the 2-dimensional houses (this creates a boundary to contain the flooding icing). Leave it to set for 10 minutes. Then, snip a small hole in the end of the small piping bag and pipe some flooding icing inside the outlines.
- Using a cocktail stick, ease the flooding icing into the corners of the outline to fill it precisely. Leave the flooding icing to set for at least 2 hours. Meanwhile, decorate the remaining gingerbread shapes.
- Using the royal icing, pipe a thin outline around the gingerbread trees. Then, pipe thick lines across the 'branches'. Using a slightly damp, fine paintbrush, brush the thick lines of icing upwards towards the tip of the tree to give it a snowy effect. Leave to set for 2 hours.
- Assemble the 3-dimensional gingerbread house. Using the royal icing in the large piping bag as glue, stick the sides onto the ends, then secure the roof on top. Pipe a snowy ridge along the top of the roof, then decorate the roof, sides and ends of the gingerbread house with royal icing to create tiles, windows and a door as desired. Set aside for the icing to harden.
- Meanwhile, pipe windows, doors, snow and any decorations you wish onto the 2-dimensional gingerbread houses. Be as creative with the decorating as you like.
Finish the cake
- Spoon a little of the reserved buttercream onto the back of 5 of the small trees and the 5 house fronts and stick them to the side of the cake, spacing them evenly and alternating tree and house all the way around.
- Place the 3-dimensional house on top of the cake with the large tree biscuit and the remaining small tree biscuit. Finally, dust the whole cake with 10g of icing sugar to give the effect of freshly fallen snow.