Gingerbread House

I have ALWAYS wanted to make a gingerbread house. This is the first year I’ve ever been brave enough to try it, and I was surprised by how easy it was. Getting the house to stick together was a pain in the arse, but everything else was very simple.

It turned out beautifully and tasted very nice too; the only problem was that it was quite hard. Definitely an “eat with a cup of tea” recipe.

It’s from, as always, the ever-wonderful BBC Good Food website.

Ingredients

For the gingerbread house

  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 200g dark muscovado sugar
  • 7 tablespoons of golden syrup
  • 600g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
  • 4 teaspoons of ground ginger

Necessary for decoration

  • 200g bag flaked almonds
  • 2 egg whites
  • 500g icing sugar
  • extra icing to dust

What I used and recommend for decoration

  • at least one box of chocolate fingers
  • jelly tots
  • sugared jelly sweets
  • gold cake decorating balls
  • dolly mixtures

Start, obviously, by making your gingerbread.

Pre-heat the oven to 200C or 180C if you have a fan oven. Put the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan and melt them. The easiest way to get the syrup in the pan is the make everything wet; wet the spoon before you put it in and have a bowl of water for you to dip your finger in to to help you push the syrup off the spoon and into the pan. Golden syrup gets everywhere but this is the easiest way to keep it under control.

Then mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ginger together in a big bowl and stir in the syrup and butter. It should make a smooth dough the colour of coffee icing; if not, add little splashes of water.

Download the template at the bottom of this page and print it out. Put a sheet of baking foil on your work surface, put a quarter of the dough on top and roll it out until it’s about as thick as a £1 coin. I didn’t have any baking parchment so I used foil, which worked just as well.

Now it’s time to cut out the shapes. I did it by laying the template on top and piercing the angles with a knife, making small cuts to make sure I get the angle right, before removing the template and joining them together.

This way I didn’t destroy the template and ended up with pretty good shapes. This is before baking…

And this is after baking.

To make extra shapes, just roll out the dough and do the same again. I recommend cutting out and the walls first and doing the roof whilst they’re baking. When the walls are cut out, slide them onto a baking tray and bake in the oven for about 12 minutes.

The roof tiles are a bit more complicated. They need the flaked almonds poking into them. When you have rolled the roof tiles out and cut them, you need to take your flaked almonds and poke them sharp-side-first into the dough to look like roof tiles. I got a bag of cheap almonds from ASDA and they were a pain in the bum to stick in; they kept breaking and wouldn’t stick in properly. They did look good when finished, though:

When all baked, leave them to cool. At this point mine looked something like this:

Yes, the bottom right looks like it’s missing a point. It is. I dropped it, that bit fell on the floor and the dog scarfed it before I could get to it. It broke in three pieces but you can’t quite see there. Sigh.

Anyway, now it’s time to stick the house together. Put the egg whites in a bowl with the icing sugar and whisk until the icing is smooth and thick. Then put it in your piping bag/Magic Icing Thingy and get icing it together. If you need to do repairs, do so…

and then ice the front and back walls like this:

before sticking the side walls on and leaving them to dry for a few hours, supporting them with other things if you need to:

I left mine for a few hours in the kitchen; however, it felt apart as soon as I tried to glue to roof tiles on. I ended up leaving it overnight in my garage; my garage is very very cold and cemented the icing and the walls together; however, I think it also made the gingerbread very hard.

Anyway. Once the walls were stuck fast together, glue the top of the walls like this:

Stick the roof tiles on:

Support them with something, and then leave it overnight to set:

When the roof is dry, you can get to the fun bit; decorating it!
 
My roof tiles didn’t quite fit together at the top, so I decided to try and cover that up with a thick squirt of icing.

It looked like this at first:

and then like this when I finished:

Like there was a thick gathering of snow at the top of the house. That was the look I was going for, anyway.

I started decorating the house by adding the door. I put a strip of icing on a chocolate finger:

And stuck it to the front of the house.

And then did that with two others.

I then piped a line of icing around the door and stuck jelly tots and gold cake decorations around the door:

I stuck chocolate fingers cut in half on the sides, and whole chocolate fingers on the back (I only did it on the back to cover up where I’d broken the wall)

I stuck big gems surrounded by jelly tots on the front and back to act as windows, and did a layer of jelly tots above the fingers on the back to make it pretty.

I was almost finished. I had to do the icicles now. This was the scary bit. I changed nozzles so that I had a very, very small nozzle on my icing gun and followed the instructions on the recipe; hold the nozzle at 90 degrees to the roof, squeeze out a pea sized blob of icing and then, still squeezing, move the nozzle down before sharply letting go and pulling away. This is time consuming, tricky and nerve-wracking, but it does look good when finished.

I then moved the house to where I wanted it on the plate, put some icing in a sieve and dusted it over the top to give the roof a snowy look.

The final touch is to lay a path of sweets to the door, using jelly tots and dolly mixtures. And then sit back and marvel.

(Yeah, it quite helpfully snowed so I got some quite pretty pictures)

I so want to go to a house like that.

Like I said, eating it was a bit tough. But it was so pretty, and everyone was really impressed by it. I’d love to make something like this with kids; I imagine they’d really enjoy it and it’s not that difficult.

There’s a Flickr photoset of my making it here. If you do make it, please share pictures; I should have a gallery of gorgeous gingerbread houses.

Plus, I was able to make star biscuits with the leftover gingerbread.

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