Gingerbread takes the world. But remember that gingerbread is not exactly popular in the south of Europe, where I live. Nor traditional. No, Christmas sweets in Spain are mostly based on tons of almonds, hazelnuts and egg yolks. But today I have decided to merge both cultures: the North of Europe with its spicy and honeyed sweets meets a Spanish landmark such as the Puerta de Alcalá, one of the most famous sights in Madrid, my hometown.
In Spain we have a saying: when you can not beat them, join them. And make your own buildings, landmarks or figurines with gingerbread. That’s what globalization is about. So I made a template with my own hands, ahem, and used it to make a large gingerbread centerpiece. The recipe is from this website.
- 560g of all-purpose flour
- 90g water
- 125g sugar (if using brown sugar, better grind it a little)
- 250g honey
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 10g sodium bicarbonate
- 1 egg white
- 200g sifted icing sugar (more or less)
- Mix water with honey and sugar, and beat so that the sugar begins to dissolve. Add the egg yolks and mix.
- Sift flour with baking soda and allspice, and add it to the liquid. Mix well until it forms a cohesive dough. If it is too sticky, add some flour until you can manipulate without it sticking to your fingers too much. Honey makes it sticky so it will always stick a little.
- Wrap the dough in plastic and let stand two hours in the fridge, so that the flour is hydrated and the gluten relaxes.
- Put the dough on the floured counter, wait 5 minutes for it to temper and roll it with a rolling pin to a thickness of about 3mm (not thicker because the cookies will expand slightly too much and look like they're overweight... ahem).
- Place the template on the dough and cut the outline with a thin and sharp knife. Remove the excess dough to reuse it. To make the gingerbread base cut an oval shape that is slightly longer than the outline of the gingerbread monument.
- Also cut a couple of wedges to adhere to the back.
- Use the leftover dough to make some gingerbread men.
- Carefully move the gingerbread to a baking tray and bake 10-12 minutes at 200ºC (with fan) / 220ºC (without fan), until golden brown. Take them to cool on a wire rack.
- Prepare the icing when the gingerbread has thoroughly cooled. Put the egg white in the stand mixer bowl and begin to beat on medium speed. When it starts to foam just a bit, start adding the sifted icing sugar with a spoon, until the mixture is the consistency of fluid toothpaste.
- With an icing spatula fill a small pastry bag with tip number 2. Set aside, covering the tip well with plastic.
- Using the template as a guide carefully pipe the pattern with the icing. Let it dry well.
- Place the wedges and "glue" them with icing. Pipe more icing on the edge of the wedge that will be in contact with the monument with care and place the large gingerbread, pressing to stick it properly.
- Then pipe icing on the contact points with the base. I decorated the front of the base with miniature candy canes also glued with icing.
- Let the icing dry a couple of hours. Place some tea candles on the back to make a lovely Christmas centerpiece ;).
I don’t know if we’ll be so cruel as to eat the gingerbread Puerta de Alcalá for Christmas. Oh, but we can be ruthless.