x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Get creative with gingerbread

Where to take the kids to make their own gingerbread houses.

Maria Sinnott, the writer's daughter, with her gingerbread house. Jessica Hill
Maria Sinnott, the writer's daughter, with her gingerbread house. Jessica Hill

Want to give the kids a DIY gingerbread house project but lack the nerve to deal with the sticky fingers and mess that come with it? Sign them up for a workshop. Over the past few years, hotels in Abu Dhabi and Dubai have started up their own gingerbread house-making traditions and several host classes, some of which also welcome adults.

Abu Dhabi

Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort

The hotel started its gingerbread house tradition four years ago. The event is always popular and so busy that more than 100 sweets-encrusted gingerbread houses are taken home each year for Christmas by satisfied children and parents.

“The trick is to assist little hands in using the piping bags efficiently and putting the houses together,” says the hotel’s food and beverage manager Kirsty Bryant. “It can get fiddly and messy. The most fun thing is watching the adults get quite absorbed in the building process – they often take over. The older children can really get creative and there are some wonderful houses by the end of the afternoon.”

Santa turns up at the end of the workshop to deliver gifts to the children and then everyone heads to the lobby for the lighting of the Christmas tree and carol singing by the Sheraton staff choir.

The Sheraton Gingerbread Factory will be held in the hotel’s garden area at 4pm on Wednesday, Dh95 per adult and Dh135 per child. Call 02 677 3333.

Shangri-La, Qaryat Al Beri

The Indonesian pastry chef Muhamed Jejen is hosting a class to reveal his secrets for making the perfect gingerbread house. Jejen says that although he had never heard of the tradition of gingerbread at Christmas before he came to the UAE, he has a developed a fondness for the custom. “I think it’s important to have such traditions,” he says. “And I love the smell of gingerbread – it is something distinctive I have come to associate with the holiday season.”

The Shangri-La gingerbread class is on December 21, 10am to noon, Al Nojoom Ballroom, Dh125 per person. Call 02 509 8888.

The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal

Classes take place in Dolce from 4pm to 6pm every day (except Fridays) until Christmas Eve. Dh150 for children ages 4 to 12 (accompanying adults are free). Call 02 818 8888.

The Westin Golf Resort & Spa

The Lounge has DIY gingerbread house kits to take away for Dh119. Call 02 616 9999.

Crowne Plaza Yas Island

Attend the gingerbread-making fiesta on Sunday from 1.40pm to 4.30pm, Dh150 per house. Call 02 656 3053.

Dubai

Radisson Blu, Deira Creek

The hotel is hosting a gingerbread house event that includes a visit from Santa. Prizes will be given for the best-decorated house. Saturday, from 1.30pm to 4.30pm. Call 04 222 7171.

Bacolod CHK N BBQ House

The Filipino restaurant on Za’abeel Road in Karama is offering a workshop between 6pm and 9pm any day until December 20. Dh50 per gingerbread house kit; buy two kits and get the third for free. You can also buy the kit to make the house at home.

Gingerbread recipe

Make your own gingerbread house from scratch and make sure that your little helpers are on hand. Four hands are better than two, and a solid construction is important. One person holds the sides of the house up while the other pipes “mortar” along the edges. Wait until dry before putting the roof on. Decorate using your choice of sweets (Chef Jejen recommends M&Ms, chocolate snowmen, mint chocolate and snow sugar)

Ingredients

400g butter

500g sugar

1kg flour

15g baking powder

15g ginger powder

500ml honey

500g egg whites

1.2kg icing sugar

Method

Mix the butter and sugar. Add the ginger powder, flour, baking powder and honey. Knead into a dough and refrigerate for a day. Roll out and cut using a template or cutters. Bake at 160ºC for 25 minutes. For the icing, beat the egg whites with the icing sugar until stiff peaks form. (Recipe courtesy Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort.)

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