I couldn’t not try a gingerbread house from week 2 of this season of Bake off. So even after week 3’s episode aired, I still needed to make one. It took a while to come up with an idea, but finally I decided on a pagoda, a Japanese-style building. It took a long time to make all the gingerbread, but it actually stood tall and didn’t collapse!! Although I think I need to practice my piping, I’m pretty happy with the result. I even added a bridge with a fish, as well as a horse (to keep with the challenge of having additional characters in the piece). The pagoda was also over the 30cm height required :)
Here’s a rough template – there are most likely areas improvements could be made, so if you think of one, try it, and let me know how it goes!
I found leaving my gingerbread overnight before assembly worked well – it makes sure the gingerbread has dried slightly, so is less likely to collapse. If you don’t have time for this, make sure all of the gingerbread is completely cool before assembling.
Makes one huge gingerbread creation
- 500g butter
- 400g dark brown sugar
- 200g golden syrup
- 1.2kg plain flour
- 4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 3 tbsp ground ginger
- 200g granulated sugar
- 200ml water
- 300g royal icing sugar
- 30-40ml water
1. Preheat your oven to 200c/400f/gas mark 6.
2. In a large saucepan add the butter, brown sugar and golden syrup. Heat gently, until the butter has melted.
3. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger into a large mixing bowl. Pour over the melted butter/sugar/syrup, and beat until you have a smooth dough.
4. Roll out clumps of the dough to about 3/4cm thick on baking parchment or kitchen foil.
5. Start cutting out the gingerbread using the templates. I started with the biggest pieces, which are the base and top of the bottom layer of the house.
6. For the side pieces (B,D, G, J and M) cut out the doorways before baking.
7. Remove any trimmings (these will be re-rolled out for the remaining pieces). Place the baking paper/foil (that you rolled the pieces onto) onto a baking tray, and bake for 6-8 minutes, until slightly darkened on the edges and firm.
8. Place the template back on the warm cooked gingerbread, and trim to size. Leave to cool.
9. Repeat with the next set of gingerbread pieces, and keep going until you have baked all of the gingerbread.
10. Make the sugar syrup. In a saucepan heat together the granulated sugar and water until it is a caramel colour – it will be slightly thicker than water. Keep on a low heat to make sure it doesn’t thicken too much – if the caramel does start to overly thicken, turn the heat up and the caramel will become thinner again.
11. Assemble the gingerbread! This is the scariest bit, but have patience and it will work J Be VERY careful with the sugar syrup – it is insanely hot and will cause bad burns it you get it on you (I learnt that the hard way…)
12. For the bottom layer start with one of the 20x20cm squares (A). Dip the base of one of the 10x20cm sides (B) into the caramel, then stick on one of the edges of the squares. Hold for a few seconds until the caramel has firmed.
13. Repeat with the other sides – dipping both the bases and sides in the sugar syrup to enable sticking to the other sides of the house.
14. Paint some caramel carefully along the edges of the underside of the top 20x20cm square (A). Stick to the sides of the base layer.
15. Take the roof tiles (C). Dip the 20cm long side in the caramel and stick the roof so that the piece is slanted downwards. Hold until the caramel is firm – if you’re worried, use a glass to balance the piece on.
16. Repeat with the other roof tiles.
17. Start assembling the next layer. Take the 16x8cm (D) sides, and stick them to the roof of the base layer as previously (try to get it as central as possible). Stick the 16x16cm square (E) on top.
18. Repeat the process of adding the next roof tiles (F).
19. Continue this assembly process – the next level has 12x 6cm sides (G), 12x12cm roof (H) and 12 x 16cm tiles (I).
20. The level after that has 8 x 4cm sides (J), 8 x 8cm roof (K) and 8 x 12cm tiles (L).
21. The final layer has 6 x 4cm sides (M), 6 x 6cm roof (N) and 6 x 8cm tiles (O).
22. To finish, stick the figurehead squares (P and Q) onto the roof of the top layer. Dip each of the S shaped templates (R) into the caramel and stick at right angles on the top of the top square.
23. To decorate, add 30ml water to the royal icing sugar, and beat until it is a thick paste.
24. Place in a piping bag, and snip off about 2mm from the tip of the bag.
25. Pipe the icing onto the pagoda, in whatever style you'd like :)