Here’s a recipe to bake around the festive season. A gingerbread house J It’s perfect to make a day ahead, and then have children/child-hearted friends and family to decorate.
Alternatively do all the baking and decorating yourself and have your relatives and friends in awe of your baking supremeness. Mine stayed stood up for 3 days, but I’d recommend eating it within 2 days, because of the caramel I’ve used to stick the pieces of gingerbread together. This caramel is controversial, as classically royal icing is used. However, icing takes a long time to dry, meaning you’re holding pieces of gingerbread for longer than is fun. This is also less messy, so I much prefer it.
I decorated my house with icing swirls, and for the roof they’re giant chocolate buttons! You just stick them to the roof, and dust with icing sugar, and they look just like roof tiles.
Note: If you're decorating alone, you can decorate the house before assembly, which is what I did here:
This is a really fun bake, so give it a go :D The gingerbread itself is very simple to make, and the nicest dough to work with as it doesn’t stick to the rolling pin/surface!
For the gingerbread:
- 250g unsalted butter
- 200g brown sugar
- 100g golden syrup
- 600g plain flour
- 1 ½ tablespoons ground ginger
- 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the decorations:
- 2 big bags (around 130g each) giant chocolate buttons
- 250g royal icing (I use Tate’s royal icing for speediness)
- Around 10 coloured boiled sweets (for the stain glass windows)
For the caramel:
- 100g granulated sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/gas mark 6. Line the base of a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
2. In a large saucepan melt the butter with the brown sugar and golden syrup. Stir until all of the butter has melted.
3. Take the pan off the heat, and sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, and ground ginger. Work with a spoon until a solid mass of dough is formed. Leave to cool slightly, whilst you cut out your templates.
4. Split the dough into three of approximately the same size.
5. Roll out the first third of dough to about 3mm thickness. Press the front template onto the dough, cut around, then move the dough carefully onto the prepared sheet. Repeat for the back of the house. Cut out the windows.
6. Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until the edges are starting to go golden. Take out of the oven, place the template on again and trim to size. Leave to cool then move to one side.
7. Whilst baking, unwrap the boiled sweets, and use a food processor or rolling pin to crush to a fine powder.
8. Once the sides have finished baking, sprinkle the crushed boiled sweets into the window holes and return to the oven for 1-2 minutes (until the sweets are bubbling). Don’t overfill the windows, or they will leak onto the walls. Repeat for the front of the house if you have put a window in.
7. Roll out the next piece of dough, and cut out the front and back of the house. Cut out the window and door for the front piece. Bake for 7- 8 minutes. When they come out of the oven, trim to the size of the template as previously.
8. Fill in the window with the remaining crushed sweets and return to the oven for 1-2 minutes until bubbling. Take out of the oven, and leave to cool.
9. Roll out the final piece of dough, and cut out the roof portions. Bake for 7-8 minutes, trim to size, then leave to cool.
10. With the remnants of the dough, roll out and cut out the porch roof and walls. Bake for 7-8 minutes, trim, then leave to cool.
11. Once cool, make the caramel. In a saucepan heat up the sugar, without stirring. Keep the pan on a low heat, and swirl the pan occasionally. If any sugar crystals are on the walls of the pan, carefully brush down using a pastry brush. Leave boiling away until a medium caramel colour is achieved. Turn off the heat. If at any point the caramel has thickened too much to be used, reheat gently.
12. Make up the royal icing by adding about a teaspoon of water to the icing sugar, and beating until a thick dripping consistency is achieved – add water by drops if needed. Spread lightly onto a cake board.
13. Pour a little syrup over the base of the front of the house. Quickly stick into the board/icing.
14. Dribble the caramel down the sides and over the base of one of the sides, and stick it to the front , so that the side touches the backside of the front piece. Hold it for a few seconds until the caramel sets. Repeat for the back piece and other side.
15. Once all set, stick one half of the roof to the house by dribbling caramel over the top of that half of the house. Hold the roof on to the house for at least 20 seconds – make sure the caramel has completely set. Ideally have someone hold this roof half whilst you stick the second half to the house.
16. When sticking the second roof piece to the house, also dribble caramel onto the seam of the roof, and hold until set.
17. For the porch dab the bottoms of the porch walls with caramel then place in front of the door. At an angle, stick the porch roof to the porch walls and roof.
Once fully set it’s time to decorate!
18. Put the tiles on the roof by piping icing onto the backs of the chocolate buttons, then placing on the roof, overlapping each line.
19. Use the rest of the royal icing to pipe decorations over the rest of the cake. Embellish with smarties or other sweets.
20. Dust with icing sugar.