Okay, so those of you who watched the first Season of The Great South African Bake Off last year know that I absolutely have been dying to re-do my Cape Dutch style soetkoekie house from biscuit week, without the time limits and collapsing roof ! I have also been a little cookie -crazy since making BAEK VOL.2 – The Cookie Issue which you can post to yourself here.
A few weeks ago I also demonstrated again on Afternoon Express how it all comes together because I literally can’t get enough of piping gable details and stained glass sparkle windows. I wish we could make cookie houses ALL year round because I truly feel like my ultimate calling as human was to be a baker/icer/architect rolled into one.
I’m now back up in the beautiful Eastern Cape with my family and finally have the time to re-make this little South African take on a festive gingerbread house. The biscuit templates are all cut and baked and I’m about to start icing, I’m doing a pink version with my nephews because this year has brought us the first niece to our family, my very own godchild: Carla.
I planned to post the recipe sooner but thought that any of you die-hards would have already fished it out of the SA Bake Off archives.
This recipe is double lovely because:
- The cookie dough is no-spread and no -chill (although I do sharpen the edges again of the house after baking)
- The icing is superlative and one batch can be used for piping detail AND flooding.
- It’s adorable. You will cry.
- It really really is so quick and easy to whip up that if you break a wall you can have a new one in the oven in 10 mins and extra cookie house debris to snack on.
- KIDS LITERALLY ADORE IT ( well, smashing it to bits with a wooden spoon anyway)
I took the final assembled cookie house to Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town for the students that were protesting to make a film with, but sadly once I left campus it turns out that it just pretty much went missing and got munched. That broke my heart a little cause I had this EPIC idea in my head of how it could metaphorically be used as a scene for colonization… and also I was itching to see it break in slow-mo. Anyways, at least someone enjoyed it!
So without further fluffing about, here we go:
No-chill Soetkoekie Dough:
(1 batch makes walls for the house, double to make walls and roof)
1 cups of butter softened
1 cups castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1/4 tsp vanilla powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
3 cups cake flour *
packed of Sparkles sweets or transparent hard candies, crushed
*2 cups flour and 1 cup coco powder for choc biscuit version
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Line 2/3 large rectangular baking tray with parchment paper.
- Beat butter and sugar in an electric beater.
- Beat in eggs, vanilla, nutmeg till combined.
- In a separate bowl sift baking powder with flour and add to butter mixture slowly and a little at a time.The dough will become stiff, if it is too stiff for mixer turn dough out onto surface and with wet hands continue to incorporate the remaining flour by hand.
- Do not chill dough, divide it into smaller batched and roll out on floured surface to 5 mm.
- Carefully lay printed and cut out templates on the cookie dough and cut out templates of each side of the house with a small sharp pairing knife.
- Place cut shapes on parchment on trays ( I always roll dough onto baking trays and remove excess edges once cut so I don’t have to move the walls).
- Bake for 12 minutes until edges are set.
- Remove from the oven and place crushed candies in the “window” cavities.
- Place back in the overn for a further 5-10 minutes until the edges are just turning golden. ( you will smell they are ready)
- Remove from the oven, place templates over cookie again and re-define edges or shape if they have warped. Allow cookies to cool.
- Make Royal Icing to pipe.
This royal icing recipe is the one and only from Sweetopia.com
(makes enough to pipe and flood and detail house)
¾ cup warm water
5 tbsp meringue or egg white powder
1tsp cream of tartar
1kg icing sugar
- In a bowl whisk meringue powder and water.
- Add cream of tartar and whisk.
- Transfer to electric mixer and beat in icing sugar with paddle attachment for 10 minutes.
- Add coloring or flavoring.
- Cover icing with a damp towel to prevent drying out.
- Fill piping bags or make your own.
- Ice sides of the house with royal icing once cookies are cooled.
- Allow for the icing to set candy rock hard before assembling.
- In a shallow pan heat up 1 cup sugar until caramel stage. dip sides of the house in thin amounts of caramel and stick together on presentation board ( I use a wooden chopping board)
- Create gable details with royal icing. Stick white choc sweet on top of each gable edge.
- Oogle, instagram, adore…. THEN SMASH IT TO BITS WITH A WOODEN ROLLING PIN! And enjoy with tea!
In this house I did not ice the “thatched roof” instead I added some blue and back drops of gel food colouring when the dough was mixing. I wanted to do this to make some cookie section for those who don’t like icing when munching on thier cookies. In another version I have made the roof out of chocolate biscuit dough by subbing one cup of flour for cocoa powder in the recipe above.
Also, if you don’t get any element just perfect on the first go, don’t worry – it’s just cookie dough! Try again!
The ONLY thing left to decide is: