Guide to Mexico City: The oldest capial city in North America

Palacio De Bellas Artes

Mexico City, is the capital of Mexico and the most populous city in North America. It is both the oldest capital city in the Americas and one of two founded by Native Americans, the other being Quito, Ecuador.

Mexico City is built on the dried bed of Lake Texcoco, in the Valley of Mexico. a basin in the high plateaus in the centre of Mexico, at an altitude of 2,240 metres (7,350 ft). The city is surrounded by mountains with the active volcano, Mount Popocatépetl (the smoking mountain), nearby.

The historic centre of Mexico City and the “floating gardens” of Xochimilco in the southern borough of the city have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

5 Cultural ‘things to do’ in Mexico City

Xochimilco

Lying 45 minutes south of downtown Mexico City is Xochimilco, the ‘Venice of Mexico’, which was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987.

It’s an eclectic place is set in the middle of a colossal city where you can float down the canals on traditional ‘trajinera’ boats or hire a mariachi to serenade you with local music and discover colors your eyes have never seen before.

You can also visit the small artificial islands, called chinampas, which are used to grow flowers, vegetables and ornamental plants.

Frida Kahlo House Museum

The bright-blue former residence of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera is located in Coyoacán, one of the oldest and most beautiful neighborhoods in Mexico City.

The Blue House was made into a museum in 1958, four years after the death of the painter and today is one of the most popular museums in the Mexican capital.

The Museo Frida Kahlo contains some of the painter’s most important works: Long Live Life (1954), Frida and the Caesarian Operation (1931), and Portrait of My Father Wilhelm Kahlo (1952) among others as well as the couple’s collection of folk art, pre-Hispanic artifacts, photographs, memorabilia, and personal effects.

Templo Mayor Museum

In 1978, some electricity workers unearthed an 8-tonne stone disc of Coyolxauqui (“Koh-yowl-SHAU-kee”), an Aztec goddess. Further exploration revealed that there was an entire archaeological wonder lying beneath Mexico City’s streets, and a decision was taken to demolish some old colonial buildings, to reveal the Templo Mayor (Main Temple).

The museum opened in 1987 and today you can visit a large dug up section in a good state of conservation, and admire sections of the temples dedicated to Huitzilopochtli, the lord of war, and Tlaloc, lord of the rain.

Between the walls of several sections of the temple, there are altars, snakes carved in stone and an imposing Tzompantli, which is a wall covered with representations of skulls, this because the Aztecs worshipped the dead, tradition maintained by Mexicans.

The Templo Mayor is today a major attraction in the very heart of downtown Mexico City and is one of Mexico’s most important archaeological sites.

Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts)

The ‘Palacio de Bellas Artes’ is not only home of the Folk Ballet of Mexico, but houses two museums within its building:

– The Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes (Bellas Artes Palace Museum) featuring temporary exhibits
– Museo Nacional de Arquitectura (National Architecture Museum) which occupies a permanent place at the top floor of the building.

Works of the famous muralists Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Rufino Tamayo feature on the walls of the first and second-floors of the building.

The star highlight of the Palace is the glass curtain in the main theatre. This striking stage glass curtain, made by Tiffany of New York, is a stained-glass foldable panel that features the landscape of the Valley of Mexico with its two great volcanoes, Popocatepetl and Iztacchihuatl.

El Zocalo Cathedral

The Metropolitan Cathedral, also known as ‘The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven’ (try saying that after a few tequilas!) is the imposing cathedral that dominates the vast expanse of Mexico City’s central square (Zocalo). It is also one of Mexico City’s most iconic structures, a treasured architectural masterpiece and Latin America’s largest and oldest cathedral.

Work started in 1573 and the cathedral remained a ‘work in progress’ during the entire colonial period. Subsequently, it displays many different architectural styles as successive generations of builders incorporated the innovations of their time. The conquistadors ordered the cathedral built atop the Templo Mayor and, as a further show of domination at a key historical moment, used most of these Aztec stones in its construction

5 Cool ‘things to do’ in Mexico City

Take a spin class at high altitude

If you fancy exercising at more than 200m above sea level, then get yourself along to one of the special fixed bike ‘spin’ classes organised by Fitspin.

As well as burning 700 calories, working your legs, glutes, abdomen and chest during the 50 minute session, you will also witness one of the best views in the whole of the city.

Exercise for free in Chapultepec Forest

With more than 61000 visitors a day, Chapultepec Forest is home to museums and many places to relax.

Centered on a rock formation called Chapultepec Hill, one of the park’s main functions is to be an ecological space and is considered the first and most important of Mexico City’s “lungs”, with trees that replenish oxygen to the Valley of Mexico.

It also has five tracks where you can train and get in shape for free: El Sope, Circuito del Lago Mayor, Corre, Segundo Circuito and Circuito Gandhi.

There are: pull up bars, parallel bars, monkey bars and much more things to do an effective training, so you can climb, bend and sweat till your last drop

Salsa the night away at Salón San Luis

Salón San Luis is a ballroom with 73 years experience and has a decor that’s stuck in the 1950s: dim red lights, waiters in white suits and black ties and mirrors on the walls.

But the dance floor comes alive as the band plays the best tunes as you try your hand at salsa, cambia, merengue and norteña. There’s no shame in bad dancing, you can pick up a few steps and locals, old-timers and pros might even show you a thing or two.

The only drawback is that single ladies are not allowed in on their own.

Try and find the entrance to one of the best speakeasy bars in town

The address to the Hanky Panky Cocktail Bar just says: “Somewhere in Mexico City” that’s it. There is no website, just a Facebook page and it doesn’t advertise in any way.

The only way to get the address, is to make a reservation, either on Facebook or by phoning them up.

The sleuthing required to find this spot is entirely worth it once you’ve spent a night at a place which is impossible to find to begin with and ends with you exiting through a hidden door

Plaza Garibaldi (Mariachi band square)

Plaza Garibaldi is known as Mexico City’s home of mariachi music.

During the Golden Age of Mexican cinema from the 1930s to the 1950s, a genre of movies called “Charro” became extremely popular where the leading movie star would often sing mariachi songs to their leading ladies

On one side of Plaza Garibaldi is the Salón Tenampa, which became a major nightspot in the 1920s (and is still in business today) when Cirilo Marmolejo and his mariachi band started playing there regularly.The plaza soon attracted other mariachi musicians, who would be paid by gentlemen to sing to their partners in the style of Marmolejo or the Charro movie stars.

Today mariachi bands can still be found here day and night. It’s a cultural meeting point of sorts, where travellers can come day or night, to watch bands solicit bar patrons, cars, and passer-bys to buy a song.

The best time to experience the plaza is from 11:00 p.m. onwards, especially on a Friday or Saturday.

5 places to eat

El Lugar Sin Nombre

According to the ‘Lonely Planet Guide’ this restaurant is too good to keep hidden. Much like the Hanky Panky Cocktail Bar it doesn’t have a website, just a Facebook page, however this restaurant does have an address.

The ‘restaurant with no name,’ is located next to mezcalaría Bósfaro and prepares handcrafted Mexican, slow-food dishes in earthenware cookware. Reading the reviews on their Facebook page, it is definitely well worth a visit.

Sanborns

Sanborns is an iconic Mexican restaurant with locations all over the city, but the original Sanborns is located in the historical district of the City and as soon as you go through the doors, you feel transported back in time to classic Mexico City.

It’s known as the “Casa de los Azulejos,” which literally means the “House of Tiles.” and was originally an old 18th century palace built by the Count del Valle de Orizaba family.

It was sold many, many times both privately and then commercially before Frank and Walter Sanborn bought it to expand their drugstore/soda pop business. It was they who added a beautiful stained glass roof and murals.

El Moro Churerría

Churros are those fried pieces of bread covered in sugar and cinnamon, that are an absolutely delicious treat.

And in Mexico City, early evening is churro time when families, couples, and friends all go out for a taste of sweet fried dough and chocolate.

El Moro is a classic churro destination where they’ve been making churros for more than 80 years and is definitely worth a visit.

There will often be lines snaking around the block outside this beloved churrería, as you watch the cooks dip, fry, and sugar-coat your long, spindly churro, which is then paired with hot chocolate in a flavor of your choosing.

Eat street food

Mexico City is ‘one of the world’s most exciting food cities’ and is a street food lovers paradise. There is a wide variety of delicious food all over the city, from street side food vendors serving pre-hispanic fare to the city’s restaurants.

One of the best ways to experience the street food scene and everything it has to offer is with one of those local street food tours, especially as the guides don’t just shuffle you along. They live in these parts of the city and care about showing you the highlights and will lead you to an excellent quesadilla stand, tell you what to order from the busy taco vendor, and then hand you a chamoy-dripping michelada.

Mexican food is always good, but it tastes that much better in Mexico City.

Hostería de Santo Domingo

On August 4, 1860, Hostería de Santo Domingo was born in what was part of the Convent of Santo Domingo de Guzmán. Mexico City’s oldest restaurant has a festive atmosphere which is enhanced by live piano music.

For 158 years the restaurant has been whipping up classic Mexican food, but most people go there to sample the chile en nogada – an enormous poblano chili pepper stuffed with ground meat, dried fruit and bathed in a creamy walnut sauce.

It’s a great place to escape the crowded pavements of Mexico City but is usually very busy. So the best thing to do is either book (so you won’t be disappointed) or go out of peak hours.

5 Top Tips to help you get by

  • Avoid the metro during the ‘hora pico’ – which is from 6-9 (both am and pm) – unless you want to get elbowed in the face by angry locals all competing for a spot in the sardine tin. (… and you thought the London Underground was bad)
  • Don’t drink the tap water – because it will make you very unwell. As well as the obvious ways you can ingest tap water, keep an eye out for what your salad is washed in and never accept ice cubes in your drink. No matter how you try not to get ill, chances are you will get an upset tummy at one point or another on your trip.
  • Don’t take taxis from the street – stick to Ubers or a registered taxi rank
  • Just know you’ll be charged more as a tourist – if it’s apparent that you’re ‘foreign’, the chances are that prices will be silently bumped up for you, from a taco costing MXN$5 more than for the Mexican who bought one five minutes before, or the taxi driver doubling your bill. It does happen, just keep an eye out for suspiciously high prices. It’s also usual to tip 10% in restaurants.
  • Sip your tequila do not shot it

Basic phrases to help you get by

  • Hola – Hello
  • Buenos días – good morning/good day
  • Adios – Goodbye
  • Gracias – thank you
  • por favor – please
  • ¿Cuanto cuesta? – how much is it?
  • ¿Donde está …? – Where is …?
  • ¿Puedo tomar una foto? – May I take a photo?
  • Lo siento. No hablo español. ¿Habla usted inglés? – I’m sorry, I don’t speak Spanish. Do you speak English?
  • ¿On són els banys? – Where are the toilets?

 

Palacio De Bellas Artes

Mexico City, is the capital of Mexico and the most populous city in North America. It is both the oldest capital city in the Americas and one of two founded by Native Americans, the other being Quito, Ecuador.

Mexico City is built on the dried bed of Lake Texcoco, in the Valley of Mexico. a basin in the high plateaus in the centre of Mexico, at an altitude of 2,240 metres (7,350 ft). The city is surrounded by mountains with the active volcano, Mount Popocatépetl (the smoking mountain), nearby.

The historic centre of Mexico City and the “floating gardens” of Xochimilco in the southern borough of the city have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

5 Cultural ‘things to do’ in Mexico City

Xochimilco

Lying 45 minutes south of downtown Mexico City is Xochimilco, the ‘Venice of Mexico’, which was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987.

It’s an eclectic place is set in the middle of a colossal city where you can float down the canals on traditional ‘trajinera’ boats or hire a mariachi to serenade you with local music and discover colors your eyes have never seen before.

You can also visit the small artificial islands, called chinampas, which are used to grow flowers, vegetables and ornamental plants.

Frida Kahlo House Museum

The bright-blue former residence of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera is located in Coyoacán, one of the oldest and most beautiful neighborhoods in Mexico City.

The Blue House was made into a museum in 1958, four years after the death of the painter and today is one of the most popular museums in the Mexican capital.

The Museo Frida Kahlo contains some of the painter’s most important works: Long Live Life (1954), Frida and the Caesarian Operation (1931), and Portrait of My Father Wilhelm Kahlo (1952) among others as well as the couple’s collection of folk art, pre-Hispanic artifacts, photographs, memorabilia, and personal effects.

Templo Mayor Museum

In 1978, some electricity workers unearthed an 8-tonne stone disc of Coyolxauqui (“Koh-yowl-SHAU-kee”), an Aztec goddess. Further exploration revealed that there was an entire archaeological wonder lying beneath Mexico City’s streets, and a decision was taken to demolish some old colonial buildings, to reveal the Templo Mayor (Main Temple).

The museum opened in 1987 and today you can visit a large dug up section in a good state of conservation, and admire sections of the temples dedicated to Huitzilopochtli, the lord of war, and Tlaloc, lord of the rain.

Between the walls of several sections of the temple, there are altars, snakes carved in stone and an imposing Tzompantli, which is a wall covered with representations of skulls, this because the Aztecs worshipped the dead, tradition maintained by Mexicans.

The Templo Mayor is today a major attraction in the very heart of downtown Mexico City and is one of Mexico’s most important archaeological sites.

Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts)

The ‘Palacio de Bellas Artes’ is not only home of the Folk Ballet of Mexico, but houses two museums within its building:

– The Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes (Bellas Artes Palace Museum) featuring temporary exhibits
– Museo Nacional de Arquitectura (National Architecture Museum) which occupies a permanent place at the top floor of the building.

Works of the famous muralists Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Rufino Tamayo feature on the walls of the first and second-floors of the building.

The star highlight of the Palace is the glass curtain in the main theatre. This striking stage glass curtain, made by Tiffany of New York, is a stained-glass foldable panel that features the landscape of the Valley of Mexico with its two great volcanoes, Popocatepetl and Iztacchihuatl.

El Zocalo Cathedral

The Metropolitan Cathedral, also known as ‘The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven’ (try saying that after a few tequilas!) is the imposing cathedral that dominates the vast expanse of Mexico City’s central square (Zocalo). It is also one of Mexico City’s most iconic structures, a treasured architectural masterpiece and Latin America’s largest and oldest cathedral.

Work started in 1573 and the cathedral remained a ‘work in progress’ during the entire colonial period. Subsequently, it displays many different architectural styles as successive generations of builders incorporated the innovations of their time. The conquistadors ordered the cathedral built atop the Templo Mayor and, as a further show of domination at a key historical moment, used most of these Aztec stones in its construction

5 Cool ‘things to do’ in Mexico City

Take a spin class at high altitude

If you fancy exercising at more than 200m above sea level, then get yourself along to one of the special fixed bike ‘spin’ classes organised by Fitspin.

As well as burning 700 calories, working your legs, glutes, abdomen and chest during the 50 minute session, you will also witness one of the best views in the whole of the city.

Exercise for free in Chapultepec Forest

With more than 61000 visitors a day, Chapultepec Forest is home to museums and many places to relax.

Centered on a rock formation called Chapultepec Hill, one of the park’s main functions is to be an ecological space and is considered the first and most important of Mexico City’s “lungs”, with trees that replenish oxygen to the Valley of Mexico.

It also has five tracks where you can train and get in shape for free: El Sope, Circuito del Lago Mayor, Corre, Segundo Circuito and Circuito Gandhi.

There are: pull up bars, parallel bars, monkey bars and much more things to do an effective training, so you can climb, bend and sweat till your last drop

Salsa the night away at Salón San Luis

Salón San Luis is a ballroom with 73 years experience and has a decor that’s stuck in the 1950s: dim red lights, waiters in white suits and black ties and mirrors on the walls.

But the dance floor comes alive as the band plays the best tunes as you try your hand at salsa, cambia, merengue and norteña. There’s no shame in bad dancing, you can pick up a few steps and locals, old-timers and pros might even show you a thing or two.

The only drawback is that single ladies are not allowed in on their own.

Try and find the entrance to one of the best speakeasy bars in town

The address to the Hanky Panky Cocktail Bar just says: “Somewhere in Mexico City” that’s it. There is no website, just a Facebook page and it doesn’t advertise in any way.

The only way to get the address, is to make a reservation, either on Facebook or by phoning them up.

The sleuthing required to find this spot is entirely worth it once you’ve spent a night at a place which is impossible to find to begin with and ends with you exiting through a hidden door

Plaza Garibaldi (Mariachi band square)

Plaza Garibaldi is known as Mexico City’s home of mariachi music.

During the Golden Age of Mexican cinema from the 1930s to the 1950s, a genre of movies called “Charro” became extremely popular where the leading movie star would often sing mariachi songs to their leading ladies

On one side of Plaza Garibaldi is the Salón Tenampa, which became a major nightspot in the 1920s (and is still in business today) when Cirilo Marmolejo and his mariachi band started playing there regularly.The plaza soon attracted other mariachi musicians, who would be paid by gentlemen to sing to their partners in the style of Marmolejo or the Charro movie stars.

Today mariachi bands can still be found here day and night. It’s a cultural meeting point of sorts, where travellers can come day or night, to watch bands solicit bar patrons, cars, and passer-bys to buy a song.

The best time to experience the plaza is from 11:00 p.m. onwards, especially on a Friday or Saturday.

5 places to eat

El Lugar Sin Nombre

According to the ‘Lonely Planet Guide’ this restaurant is too good to keep hidden. Much like the Hanky Panky Cocktail Bar it doesn’t have a website, just a Facebook page, however this restaurant does have an address.

The ‘restaurant with no name,’ is located next to mezcalaría Bósfaro and prepares handcrafted Mexican, slow-food dishes in earthenware cookware. Reading the reviews on their Facebook page, it is definitely well worth a visit.

Sanborns

Sanborns is an iconic Mexican restaurant with locations all over the city, but the original Sanborns is located in the historical district of the City and as soon as you go through the doors, you feel transported back in time to classic Mexico City.

It’s known as the “Casa de los Azulejos,” which literally means the “House of Tiles.” and was originally an old 18th century palace built by the Count del Valle de Orizaba family.

It was sold many, many times both privately and then commercially before Frank and Walter Sanborn bought it to expand their drugstore/soda pop business. It was they who added a beautiful stained glass roof and murals.

El Moro Churerría

Churros are those fried pieces of bread covered in sugar and cinnamon, that are an absolutely delicious treat.

And in Mexico City, early evening is churro time when families, couples, and friends all go out for a taste of sweet fried dough and chocolate.

El Moro is a classic churro destination where they’ve been making churros for more than 80 years and is definitely worth a visit.

There will often be lines snaking around the block outside this beloved churrería, as you watch the cooks dip, fry, and sugar-coat your long, spindly churro, which is then paired with hot chocolate in a flavor of your choosing.

Eat street food

Mexico City is ‘one of the world’s most exciting food cities’ and is a street food lovers paradise. There is a wide variety of delicious food all over the city, from street side food vendors serving pre-hispanic fare to the city’s restaurants.

One of the best ways to experience the street food scene and everything it has to offer is with one of those local street food tours, especially as the guides don’t just shuffle you along. They live in these parts of the city and care about showing you the highlights and will lead you to an excellent quesadilla stand, tell you what to order from the busy taco vendor, and then hand you a chamoy-dripping michelada.

Mexican food is always good, but it tastes that much better in Mexico City.

Hostería de Santo Domingo

On August 4, 1860, Hostería de Santo Domingo was born in what was part of the Convent of Santo Domingo de Guzmán. Mexico City’s oldest restaurant has a festive atmosphere which is enhanced by live piano music.

For 158 years the restaurant has been whipping up classic Mexican food, but most people go there to sample the chile en nogada – an enormous poblano chili pepper stuffed with ground meat, dried fruit and bathed in a creamy walnut sauce.

It’s a great place to escape the crowded pavements of Mexico City but is usually very busy. So the best thing to do is either book (so you won’t be disappointed) or go out of peak hours.

5 Top Tips to help you get by

  • Avoid the metro during the ‘hora pico’ – which is from 6-9 (both am and pm) – unless you want to get elbowed in the face by angry locals all competing for a spot in the sardine tin. (… and you thought the London Underground was bad)
  • Don’t drink the tap water – because it will make you very unwell. As well as the obvious ways you can ingest tap water, keep an eye out for what your salad is washed in and never accept ice cubes in your drink. No matter how you try not to get ill, chances are you will get an upset tummy at one point or another on your trip.
  • Don’t take taxis from the street – stick to Ubers or a registered taxi rank
  • Just know you’ll be charged more as a tourist – if it’s apparent that you’re ‘foreign’, the chances are that prices will be silently bumped up for you, from a taco costing MXN$5 more than for the Mexican who bought one five minutes before, or the taxi driver doubling your bill. It does happen, just keep an eye out for suspiciously high prices. It’s also usual to tip 10% in restaurants.
  • Sip your tequila do not shot it

Basic phrases to help you get by

  • Hola – Hello
  • Buenos días – good morning/good day
  • Adios – Goodbye
  • Gracias – thank you
  • por favor – please
  • ¿Cuanto cuesta? – how much is it?
  • ¿Donde está …? – Where is …?
  • ¿Puedo tomar una foto? – May I take a photo?
  • Lo siento. No hablo español. ¿Habla usted inglés? – I’m sorry, I don’t speak Spanish. Do you speak English?
  • ¿On són els banys? – Where are the toilets?

 

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FE Vegan Bake Off – Round 4 – Mexico

Some of the eagle-eyed amongst you might have noticed that Round 3 of the ‘FE Vegan Bake Off’ is missing.

The reason? Well, that would be due to a complete baking disaster that befell yours truly. Soggy bottoms were the least of my problems.

So, I decided to draw a line under Chile and start again in Mexico, where I am please to announce a quiet success.

Mexican Wedding Cookies are the order of the day this week.

  • Easy to follow recipe – check
  • Easy to make – check
  • Cooked properly – check
  • Tasted great – check, check and definitely, check

These little delicacies are not reserved for weddings, they’re consumed year-round and they’re truly scrumptious.

The recipe I used was from the Yummly website.

Mexican Wedding Cookies (Polvorones)

Ingredients

  • 118 milliliters vegan margarine
  • 103 grams vegetable shortening
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 80 grams powdered sugar (plus more for dusting)
  • 250 grams all-purpose flour
  • 83 grams ground almonds

Note – for the vegetable shortening, I used Trex, which, according to the Vegan websites I searched is a vegan product as it is made from vegetable oils

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F, 160C, Gas Mark 3, 140 Fan
  2. In a large bowl, beat the margarine and shortening together until fluffy and smooth
  3. Then beat in the the vanilla and salt
  4. Mix in the powdered sugar a little at a time
  5. Do the same with the flour and ground almonds
  6. Continue mixing all the ingredients together for another 3 to 5 minutes until a soft, somewhat-crumbly dough forms
  7. Start rolling the dough into little balls with your hands, about the size of small golf balls, and line them up on a lined baking sheet about an inch and a half apart. They don’t spread out too much, but it’s good to give them room to breathe
  8. Pop them in the oven and bake for 14 to 16 minutes, until you see them puff up and the bottoms start to turn golden brown. (Be careful when looking for color; the cookies themselves don’t brown up too much, so they can easily overbake if you don’t watch them)
  9. When cooked, take them out of the oven and let them cool,
    When the cookies are cool enough give them a generous dusting with icing sugar
  10. Enjoy!

I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that this is probably one of the best bakes I’ve ever made and certainly the best vegan bake to date.

And here’s how I made them:

 

Why not have a go at making these and let me know in the comments how you got on.

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The Girlie Guide to … the Monte-Carlo Rally

The 2019 World Rally Championship (WRC) begins this evening, Thursday 24 January, with the start of the 87th running of the legendary Monte-Carlo Rally. This article, hopefully, will go some way to explaining the history of the event and what makes it so special … there was even a film made about a fictional race!

History

The idea for a rally began in 1909 at the ‘Association Sport Automobile Vélocipédique Monégasque’, now known as the ‘Automobile Club de Monaco’. The club’s president suggested, at the request of Prince Albert I, a race starting in a number of European cities, from which the competitors would then set off and converge at the finishing line in Monaco.

The ‘Société des Bains de Mer de Monaco’ was the principal backer of the event, as they saw enormous business potential, not only to bring wealthy car fans to Monaco from all over Europe, but also a form of very shrewd marketing for the country, seeing as competitors’ cars would bear a ‘Monte-Carlo Rally’ logo badge.

In January 1911, the first ‘Monte-Carlo Rally’ was staged.

23 cars set out to compete. Their starts were staggered according to their distance from Monaco so they would arrive in Monaco on Saturday 28 January. The cars set off from Paris, Brussels, Geneva, Vienna and Berlin and they were expected to clock up a heady average speed of 10 km/h.

[Editor’s Note. 10 km/h then must have felt very different from now when it feels slower than a snail]

Sixteen cars reached Monaco and Von Esmark, a driver from Berlin, was the first to arrive, having driven 1,700 km at an average speed of 30 km/h! However, because he didn’t take part in the final parade he was relegated to second place, leaving Henri Rougier, a driver from Paris, as the winner. He was awarded 10,000 gold francs and a bronze statue for his efforts. [Editor’s Note. This information is what I gleaned from various websites, if this is incorrect please comment and I shall amend immediately]

After the 1912 race, due to world events the ‘Monte-Carlo Rally’ was not held again until 1924 where its popularity soared.

It was initially organised as a race of consistency and endurance, both human and mechanical, after all back then driving across Europe in the middle of winter was a huge achievement.

To ensure the ‘Société des Bains de Mer de Monaco’s’ commercial aims of drawing wealthy people to Monaco was kept, the rally was extended to include a women’s event to add a touch of glamour and elegance to the race.

[Editor’s Note. The idea of having a woman’s race purely to add glamour these days would most definitely be frowned upon, but remember 100 years ago life was very different. Women had only been given the vote in the UK in 1918. Women in France didn’t get the vote until 1945 (according Wikipedia that is!)]

It was only after the rally had another hiatus, during World War II, from 1940 to 1948, that it cemented itself as one of Europe’s major car rally events.

From the early 1950s, results from the race counted towards the European Grand Tourism Championship, this ultimately became the European Rally Championship and the WRC in 1973.

It was at the start of the 1960s, that special stages appeared. The endurance element was still present, but on special stages only pure speed counted.

Overall rankings used an “indexed” method of calculation meaning a less powerful vehicle could sometimes beat a much more powerful one: in 1961 a Citroën ID19 driven by René Trautmann and Jean-Claude Ogier managed the best cumulative time, but only finished nineteenth.

In the middle of the 1960s, the “scratch” ranking came into force. The index had had its day, and now it was the team with the best time on the special stages and the least penalties which would win. This period also brought “factory” drivers: the era of “gentlemen drivers” was officially over.

So famous, it was the backdrop for a film

The 1969 film ‘Monte Carlo or Bust!’ the sequel to ‘Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines’, is set in the 1920s and is based on the Monte Carlo Rally, telling the story of an epic car rally across Europe that involves a lot of eccentric characters from all over the world who will stop at nothing to win

The film’s plot, according to Wikipedia, is as follows:

“In the 1920s, the Monte Carlo Rally attracts competitors from all over the world. Rivals from Britain, Italy, France and Germany find that their greatest competition comes from the United States in the form of Chester Schofield (Tony Curtis), who had won half of an automobile factory in a poker game with the late father of Sir Cuthbert Ware-Armitage (Terry-Thomas). Ware-Armitage has entered the race in a winner-take-all to exact revenge and win back the lost half of the company.

“The international cast of characters appear to mirror their national foibles. British Army officers Maj. Digby Dawlish (Peter Cook) and Lieut. Kit Barrington (Dudley Moore), who have entered to preserve the honour of the British Empire, drive an outlandish vehicle festooned with odd inventions. Italian policemen Angelo Pincelli (Walter Chiari) and Marcello Agosti (Lando Buzzanca) seem to be more interested in chasing three French women, led by Doctor Marie-Claude (Mireille Darc). The German entry from overbearing Willi Schickel (Gert Fröbe) and Otto Schwartz (Peer Schmidt) turn out to be convicts, driving with stolen gems on board.

“As the race begins, the contestants find that not only are they in a 1,500-mile battle with each other, but dangerous roads and the elements including a massive avalanche, are just as formidable. Chester and his new co-driver, Betty (Susan Hampshire) end up duelling with Cuthbert. Various misfortunes plague each of the contestants, with Cuthbert, poised to win, being disqualified for cheating, the British Army team blowing up, the Germans being arrested and Chester falling asleep at the wheel. In the end, the Italians are declared the winners and share their winnings with the French women’s team to help people injured in the snow slide. Chester does eventually cross the finish line, albeit due to Betty and some others pushing his car.”

If you like comedies, albeit a 1960s film, this is definitely worth seeing.

What makes the Monte-Carlo Rally special?

The Monte-Carlo Rally is possibly the world’s most iconic rally due to a mix of glamour and danger.

This little corner of the Cote D’Azur boasts glamour and wealth aplenty. With super-yachts in the harbour, streets full of supercars not to mention the Royal Family’s Hollywood connection and the world-famous casino is it any wonder most normal folk see it as the ultimate millionaire’s playground.

As for the rally, it runs through the spectacular scenery of the Alpes-Maritime region proving a challenge for cars and crew alike.

Being held in January, the road surfaces are often covered in snow and ice as temperatures in the mountains are considerably lower than Monaco itself, which could warm and sunny, even in January.

And it’s not just the road surfaces that prove tricky, the roads themselves are extremely challenging, winding and twisting and in many places having a rock face one side and a sheer drop the other. It was on these winding roads that Princess Grace had her fatal accident.

With the roads and the changing road surface from dry to snow to wet to ice the best thing drivers can bring to the party is experience, as they are more able to read the road surfaces. Is it any wonder that the Monte-Carlo Rally is difficult to finish? Those who win are surely legends?

The WRC Monte-Carlo Rally 2019

This year’s four-day rally has been remodelled, adopting a more compact format focusing on the Alps base in Gap. Several new speed tests have been introduced and the route is 40 per cent different from the 2018 rally. Even the Opening/Start Ceremony has been moved from Casino Square to the centre of Gap.

According the WRC website, after the start ceremony two late evening special stages will take place:

  • La Bréole / Selonnet
  • Avançon / Notre-Dame-du-Laus

Both are new and run for 20km each in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and Hautes-Alpes regions.

Friday sees competitors driving 124.38 km on a route to the south-west of Gap, with two loops of three tests tackled twice. [Editor’s Note. That’s a mouthful and a half!]

Saturday’s route is to the north of Gap, comprising a double pass over Agnières-en-Dévoluy / Corps and Saint-Léger-les-Mélèzes / La Bâtie-Neuve. After a final service in Gap, competitors will then make the long journey south to Monaco.

The finale on Sunday is the same as 2018 which comprised two passes over two tests in the mountains above the Principality, with no opportunity for service.

The 16 stages of the rally, in total, cover 322.81km and wraps up on Sunday afternoon when winners are honoured at a prize-giving ceremony overlooking the famous harbour.

Last year’s WRC champion, Sebastian Ogier, looks favourite to win his sixth Monte-Caro Rally, although Toyota’s Ott Tanak might have something to say about that. And, with rally legend Sebastian Loeb taking part for Hyundai he could certainly add to the mix.

My money though, would probably be on Ogier to win.

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FE Vegan Bake Off – Round 2 – Morocco

Right, so here’s the thing I’ve discovered … don’t try and veganise a non-vegan recipe, it’s simply asking for disaster.

For example, for this bake I found a lovely, orginal and authentic Moroccan Meskouta cake. The recipe called for four eggs, and obviously you can’t use eggs in a vegan recipe. The obvious substitute was bicarbonate of soda and vinegar*, of which a teaspoon of each can be used to replace one egg.

(* – vinegar – use white vinegar, if you can’t find this apple cider vinegar is equally as good)

Well, that’s the theory. In practice, what happened was this – I made up the cake as per the instructions and the resulting cake batter was very thick. However, on cooking, the batter got more liquidy (!) and by the end of cooking time not only was the cake still liquid, it had exploded over the side of the cake tin.

Talk about a disaster!

A Moroccan Meskouta cake is simply an orange cake, so I managed to find a general vegan organe cake recipe. Pretty much the same recipe as the authentic recipe, but less exploding …

After all that, here’s the recipe I used:

Vegan Orange Cake

Ingredients

  • 240ml orange juice
  • 338g plain flour
  • 225g sugar
  • 120ml vegetable oil
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190 C /Gas Mark 5 / 170 C (Fan) / 375 F
  2. Grease an 8×8-inch baking pan
  3. Put all the ingredients in a bowl
  4. Whisk them all together
  5. Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean

NOTES

  • Sugar – any kind can be used. I used coconut sugar
  • Obviously grease the pan with dairy-free vegan spread
  • Orange juice can either be freshly squeezed or you can use shop-bought juice

Here’s the 2nd attempt – it wasn’t too bad!

… and here’s the video … of the 2nd attempt naturally 😉

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The Girlie Guide to … the Dakar Rally

The Paris-Dakar Rally started life after Thierry Sabine got lost, on his motorbike, in the Libyan desert whilst competing in the Abidjan-Nice Rally of 1977. Some 40 years later, it is still the ultimate name in endurance rallying, despite having moved across the Atlantic Ocean to the terrain South America. And as the 2019 race prepares to get underway on Monday 7 January, I thought I’d have a look at what makes the Dakar Rally as popular today as it was when it started.

“A challenge for those who go. A dream for those who stay behind”

In 1977, after making it out of the Libyan desert, Thierry Sabine returned to France having fallen in love with the Saharan landscape and a dream to share this love with as many people as possible.

He came up with a route that started in Paris, crossed the Mediterranean from France to Algiers and then tracked a route through Algeria, Niger, Burkina Farso, Ivory Coast and Guinea before finishing in the Senegalese capital, Dakar.

The inaugural race, known as the 1979 Paris-Dakar Rally, started on 26 December 1978 in Paris and ended 21 days later on 14 January 1979 in Dakar.

182 competitors took part: 80 cars, 90 motorbikes and 12 trucks!

Rally Raid

The Dakar dominates off-road rally raiding, also called cross-country rallying, which effectively is long-distance off-roading that takes place over several days, potentially travelling over 500 miles each day.

The use of global positioning systems (GPS) is strictly prohibited in rally raiding and competitors must navigate using a paper roadbook and digital odometer. According to Wikipedia, a roadbook is: “…a diagrammatic book typically used by rally co-drivers and overland travellers to navigate across uncertain terrain. Usually, the roadbook consists of several pages of tulip-diagrams, GPS co-ordinates and written instructions to assist in navigation.”

Being off-road, the terrain that the competitors travel over is much tougher than that used in conventional rallying, and the vehicles used are true off-road vehicles rather than modified on-road vehicles.

Vehicles Used

Most vehicles are heavily modified or built specifically to compete in the Dakar, and many manufacturers who enter vehicles use the rally as a testing ground and also to show-off their vehicle’s durability.

There are four main competitive classes (according to Wikipedia as I couldn’t find much information on the official Dakar website!):

Motorbikes

Since 2011, motorbikes entering the Dakar are limited to a 450cc engine, which can be either single or twin cylinder. Riders are then divided into two groups: Elite and Non-Elite. Non-Elite riders are then split into ‘Super Production’ and ‘Marathon’ classes. Only Elite and Super Production riders are able to change key components on their bikes, such as the engine (including the engine case, cylinders and cylinder heads), the frame, the forks or swinging arm.

Quads

Quads have only had their own category since 2009, before this they were lumped into the Motorbikes class.

In the current regulations, Quads are designated ‘Group 3’ and divided into two sub-classes: Group 3.1 and 3.2:

Group 3.1 – two-wheel drive quads with a maximum capacity 750cc single cylinder engine

Group 3.2 – four-wheel drive quads with a maximum capacity 900cc engine, either single or twin cylinder

Since 2017 an SSV category was added, defined as four-wheel side-by-side vehicles with 1000cc maximum capacity.

Cars

Cars must weigh less than 3,500Kg (7,716 lb) to enter. They are then subdivided into:

T1 – Improved Cross-Country Vehicles, further sub-divided according to engine type (petrol or diesel) and drive type (two-wheel or four-wheel)

T2 – Cross-Country Series Production Vehicles, sub-divided according to engine type (petrol or diesel)

T3 – Light Vehicles

There is also a further ‘Open’ category for vehicles conforming to SCORE regulations. SCORE (Southern California Off Road Enthusiasts) is an off-road sanctioning body in the sport of desert racing.

Trucks

The Truck class (Group T4), first ran as a separate category in 1980 and is made up of vehicles weighing more than 3,500 kg (7,716 lb).

Trucks participating in the competition are subdivided into

T4.1 – Series Production Trucks

T4.2 – Modified Trucks

T4.3 – (formerly known as T5) trucks are rally support trucks – meaning they travel from bivouac to bivouac to support the competition vehicles. These were introduced to the rally in 1998.

Can I take part?

According to the Dakar website everyone over the age of 18 can enter the Dakar.

You do not need to be a rally-raid champion to take part as the goal of the Dakar is to have both professionals and amateurs participating in the same rally and on the same route.

Bike and Quad competitors are subject to a selection process. Like all competitors they must be over 18 years old. Additionally, they must hold an International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) International Off-Road Rally Licence and be able to justify a first successful experience in Rally Raid, i.e., they must have participated in an event belonging to the FIM World Championship and/or in any other event registered on the FIM calendar or on their national calendar. They must also have the physical ability to take part.

Mind you, entry doesn’t come cheap. For a rookie, entering their first Dakar, not only do you have the cost of your actual vehicle to find, but also the registration fee. Generally this covers the cost of getting your vehicle to and from Argentina, sporting rights, insurance, medical assistance, food and drink, eco contribution and tracking/distress beacons. The rookie registration fee for bikes is €14,000, cars €28,000 and trucks €41,400! You are then responsible for visas, transport costs, fuel, vehicle repatriation if you pull out, satellite phone rental and potential extra vehicle transport costs if your vehicle is over the standard height and/or length.

Is it safe?

We all know motorsport is dangerous and off-road rallying no less dangerous with the added dangers of the terrain and Mother Nature.

The 2008 Dakar Rally was cancelled due to another threat, that of terrorist attacks, and for that reason the Dakar moved across the Atlantic to South America for 2009, and has stayed there ever since.

To date 70 people have been killed in the Dakar Rally, 28 competitors and 42 spectators.

The Dakar is no walk in the park, apparently you don’t win, you survive, but that doesn’t make it any less safe than other forms of motorsport.

What makes it so special?

With drivers and riders being put through a brutal physical and mental test of strength, agility and ability, the sheer variety of vehicles, amazing and yet terrifying terrain to cover and with more plot twists than an episode of your favourite soap, the Dakar Rally has it all.

I’d say that’s what makes it so special

The 2019 Dakar Rally

This year the Dakar Rally is going 100% all Peru.

The race will start on Monday 7 January and finish 15 days later in Peru’s capital, Lima, having explored the Peruvian desert.

There are 10 stages and competitors will travel a total of 5,000Km, 70% of that will be sand and 3,000Km is deemed a ‘Selection Section’ where all vehicles enrolled in the race will be timed.

This year, 334 vehicles are starting off with 534 pilots and co-pilots from 61 countries.

Of these 97 vehicles are ‘Rookies’, which means they have pilots and/or co-pilots for whom this is their first Dakar. 2019 also sees the highest number of women (17) competing in the race since 2009, including 2 all-female teams

 

Thierry Sabine said: “I wanted to develop a car rally that would be a true adventure. I have always wanted to go beyond my limits and to take other people beyond theirs.”

41 years on from the very first Paris-Dakar Rally interest in the event, both competing and spectating shows no signs of abating. It’s no wonder the Dakar Rally is the world’s unrivalled motor racing spectacle.

 

© 2019 ‘Girl in the Pitlane’
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Girl in the Pitlane’s 2019 Formula 1 Preview

It’s 1 January 2019, and we are 49 days away from the first F1 winter testing before the first race on Sunday 17 March, so I thought I’d write about what I’m looking forward to this season.

Inter-team battles

I, for one, am really looking forward to the potential inter-team battles at Ferrari and Red Bull. With Leclerc and Gasly, both hungry to win a WDC I don’t think, for one minute, they are going to like, or play along with team orders.

So there could well be fireworks in both teams.

I’m wondering whether we’ll get a repeat of the ‘multi-21’ episode and how Vettel will react when the boot is on the other foot!

It will also be interesting to watch how Verstappen reacts if Gasly gives him a run for his money.

Who’s under pressure?

Bottas, has to be the one driver under enormous pressure. He’s only on a one-year contract, he finished a poor fifth place in the WDC having driven the same powered car as Hamilton and even without the team orders in Russia only managed to finish higher than Hamilton on three occasions.

With Ocon signed as Mercedes reserve driver for the season and hungry to get back a full-time drive, the pressure has surely got to be on Bottas.

Another driver, I think will be under pressure, albeit for a different reason, is Lance Stroll. With a drive at Force India finally revealed (it was the worst kept secret in the pitlane for months) he’ll be under pressure to deliver the goods.

After two years of driving the Williams, but making no bones about his actual talent, he’s now got to step up and prove that he deserves this drive.

Finally, I also think Vettel is going to be under pressure. With Kimi winning Ferrari’s last WDC in 2007, Vettel is under double pressure from his new teammate and to become a Ferrari WDC. We saw last season that he made some silly mistakes, was that the pressure of the title fight getting to him? After all, his Red Bull championships all came with Red Bull having the best car on the grid by far and he would romp off into the distance at the start. (And yes, the same can be said for Hamilton’s victories in 2014 and 2015)

Who will surprise?

When they signed Kimi, I said that I would put money on Kimi getting pole in Australia in the Sauber. I think I might stick with that as an early season surprise.

As for other surprises, I think it’s going to be interesting to watch how the new kids on the block fair, and they could cause a few upsets and surprises along the way.

What about those making a return to the grid?

After being ceremoniously dumped from Red Bull down to Toro Rosso following a few crashes (far less than Verstappen has been involved in last season) and then dropped after the US grand prix in 2017, who would have thought that Daniil Kvyatt would be given the Toro Rosso drive in 2019?

Would you have gone back after being treated like that?

He’s certainly got a lot of demons to tackle. Let’s hope he’s less torpedo now.

There’s been mixed reactions to the news that Robert Kubica will be making his return to F1 after an eight year absence. He was clearly a very talented driver back in 2010 and a possible championship contender had his injury not put paid to that.

Will it be a dream return or a nightmare?

He’s certainly still got a lot of speed and drive in him, but he’s another driver also under pressure.

Personally, I think a lot is going to depend on the state of the Williams car this year. If it’s good and Kubica doesn’t do well, compared to Russell, then there will be a lot of negativity. If the car is the same pile of poop it has been for the last couple of years then there’s no real way to see how good he still is, unless Russell does an Alonso and manages to consistently pop the Williams in places it shouldn’t be in.

Will McLaren and Williams emerge from their recent slump?

I really hope, this season, that McLaren and Williams return to some sort of form after a shocking couple of years.

The Renault engine is more than decent and the Mercedes engine, championship winning, so theoretically both teams should have been fighting, if not for podiums, at least for the top of the Formula 1.5 grid instead of consistently languishing at the back of the grid.

Hopefully, some of the issues have been ironed out and we’ll see both teams move off the bottom rung of the ladder in 2019.

What of the other teams?

Much as I would love, along with everyone else, to not have just three teams slugging it out for top honours I think Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull will be out front again.

But, I do feel that the gap between them and the rest of the grid will start closing up and we could have a few surprises in qualifying.

Who will shine?

Leclerc is definitely one to keep an eye on, along with Gasly. Both good drivers, now in excellent cars, I think they will definitely be in the mix, stealing points and some of the limelight.

Who will end the year victorious?

Love him or hate him, with Hamilton on another level last season he’s got to be favourite for clinching a sixth title.

Ferrari did have the stronger car last year, yes they made some (OK quite a few) lousy calls and Vettel seemed to buckle under pressure, so you have to admire what Hamilton achieved in a car that was second fastest.

I’m certainly looking forward to the start of the season.

The hotly contested Funniest Tweet Awards Championship will be entering it’s fourth season (get practising now!), F1 Baking Club will be back with another set of F1 Bake Offs and I’m also working on something new, but you’ll have to wait until Melbourne to find out what.

On a final note, one thing that’s certain is that whenever Grosjean crashes this year, it can’t be Ericsson’s fault!

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F1 Christmas Bake Off – Gingerbread

For the final Christmas bake-off I’m going back to where it all started, with @f1trackchat challenging me to make a gingerbread house.

Now, I’m the first to admit I’m not the most artistic of people. I have lots of ideas, but lack the time and inclination for perfection.

So, rather than make a full on gingerbread house (maybe that will be my challenge for next year) I thought I’d keep it simple and make a gingerbread F1 pitlane garage – after all how hard could that be? All your need is three walls, one roof and a bit of icing, right?

Hmmm, let’s just say it might not have looked the best by a long shot, but it certainly tasted amazing. I had so much dough left over I made a glut of gingerbread biscuits …

The recipe I used was a Mary Berry recipe from the ‘BBC Food Recipe‘ website. These are the full instructions for a gingerbread house. The template you will need is on the BBC website (follow the link)

So, here’s the recipe:

Gingerbread House

Ingredients

For the gingerbread

  • 375g/13oz unsalted butter
  • 300g/10½oz dark muscovado sugar
  • 150g/5½oz golden syrup
  • 900g/2lb plain flour
  • 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tbsp ground ginger

For the icing

  • 3 free-range egg whites
  • 675g/1½lb icing sugar, sifted
  • 3 tsp lemon juice

For the decoration

  • 15 yellow or orange boiled sweets
  • 1 x 30cm/12in square cake board
  • 200g/7oz giant milk chocolate buttons
  • 2 night-light candles
  • 6 cocktail sticks

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6 (fan 180C).

  2. Melt the butter, sugar and syrup together in a large pan. Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger together into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the melted butter mixture, stir it in and, when cool enough to handle, knead to a stiff dough.

  3. Divide the mixture into five equally sized pieces, cut one of these pieces in half (so you have six pieces in total). Roll each piece out on a sheet of greaseproof paper to ¾cm/⅓in thick. Using the templates, cut out the sections for the roof, sides, front and back of the house. Slide onto three baking trays lined with baking parchment.

  4. Using the template as a guide, a ruler and the rim of a cup, cut out the arched windows on the front and sides of the house. Using a star cutter, cut out a star in the front and back of the house. Using a knife, cut out the door on the front and back of the house and place the doors separately on the baking trays.

  5. Re-roll the trimmings and use to cut out the chimney pieces, three Christmas trees and three triangles to use as supports to help the trees stand upright. Bake the gingerbread for 7-8 minutes.

  6. Meanwhile place the boiled sweets in a pestle and mortar and crush to a rough sand texture.

  7. Remove the gingerbread from the oven. Trim the windows if the mixture has spread and sprinkle the crushed sweets into the windows. Return to the oven and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the sweets have melted and the gingerbread is firm. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes, then trim around the templates again to give clean, sharp edges. Leave to cool completely.

  8. For the icing, whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until frothy. Using a wooden spoon or a hand-held electric mixer on slow speed, add the icing sugar a tablespoonful at a time. Stir in the lemon juice and beat the icing until it is very stiff and white and stands up in peaks. Cover the surface with a damp cloth if not using immediately.

  9. Spoon a little of the icing into a piping bag fitted with a medium plain nozzle. Pipe blobs of icing on the back of each chocolate button and stick, overlapping onto the two roof sections, to create a tile effect. Transfer some icing to another piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle and pipe frames around the windows, doors and stars to decorate. Spoon six tablespoons of the icing over the cake board and, using a palette knife, spread the icing to cover the board with a snow effect and to create a base to stick the house on to.

  10. Pipe some icing along the wall edges and join the house together on the iced cake board. Leave the icing to dry and harden for a minimum of four hours, but preferably overnight.

  11. Once dry, place two night-lights inside the house before attaching the roof.

  12. Cut the pointed ends of the cocktail sticks into 1cm/½in pieces (you should have 12 small pointed pieces). Push the blunt end of the cocktail stick pieces into the sloping edges of the front and back of the house, leaving the pointed ends sticking out to act as peg supports to attach the roof. (Remember to remove the sharp cocktail sticks from your gingerbread house before eating it, to avoid a choking hazard.) Pipe icing between the cocktail sticks and fix the two roof panels onto the house. Pipe icing around the base and edges of the chimney and attach to the roof.

  13. To decorate, pipe icing along the apex and edges of the roof to look like snow and icicles. Stick the front door in place with icing. Cut the back door into three pieces to use as props to keep the trees upright. Decorate the Christmas trees with piped icing and fix them onto the cake board with icing and gingerbread props. Dust the roof with icing sugar and light the night lights using a candle-lighter through the open back door. Do not leave the candles lit unattended, and it is best not to burn the candles inside the house for longer than 15 minutes or they may singe the inside of the roof and start to melt the chocolate buttons.

 

Here’s my rather pathetic first attempt:

 

… and here’s the video:

Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.

Much love

xx

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