Christmas isn’t Christmas without crackers, candy canes and your very own gingerbread house.
Gingerbread house kits are now readily available but considering how easy (and how much fun) it is to make your own house we suggest you start planning your own edible grand design that will make a wonderful centrepiece over the Christmas season.
This is a great project for kids and adults to work on and you can be as creative as you like. Use the template as your guide (or risk uneven foundations!) but feel free to play around with the trimmings. There is no limit to what can be used as decoration so scour your pantry and the supermarket to come up with quirky, edible decorations which personalise your very own house.
The extra time to allow icing to dry is very important and should not be skipped or else your house may collapse. Your gingerbread house will be edible for one week but will last a lot longer for display purposes. Keep it out of direct sunlight to ensure nothing melts!
For the Gingerbread
250g unsalted butter
200g dark brown sugar
7tbsp golden syrup
600g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 ½ tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
200g bag flaked almonds
1 can white ready-made icing
Icing sugar for dusting
Mini chocolate finger biscuits
Chocolate flake or chocolate roll
Selection of coloured sweets such as musk sticks, smarties, jubes, edible silver balls, candy canes
Pre-heat fan oven to 200C. Melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan until mixed and smooth. Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ground ginger and ground cinnamon into a large bowl, then stir in the butter mixture to make a stiff dough. Add a splash of water if it won't quite come together.
Cut out the six pieces of the gingerbread house template provided. Put a sheet of baking paper on your work surface and roll about one quarter of the dough to the thickness of 5mm.
Cut out one section, then slide the gingerbread, still on its baking paper, onto a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, until you have two side walls, a front and back wall and two roof panels.
Pick out the most intact flaked almonds and gently push them into the roof sections, pointy-end first, to look like roof tiles. Bake all the sections for 12 mins or until firm and just a little darker at the edges. Leave to cool for a few mins to firm up, then trim around the templates again to give clean, sharp edges. Leave to cool completely.
You might find it easier to decorate the pieces at this stage while they are flat. If so, use the icing to stick sweets on the side of the house to represent windows, doors and other embellishments. Allow to dry for a few hours.
Gather the front, back and two side pieces of gingerbread and the board/plate you’ll be displaying the house on. Pipe icing generously along the wall edges and carefully join the walls together so that the four pieces are sitting on your board/plate. Use extra icing to secure in place. Use a jar to support the walls from the inside and allow to dry for at least a few hours but ideally overnight. This is essential to ensure the house is strong enough to support the roof pieces.
Remove the jar and affix the two roof panels with icing. You’ll need to hold these in place initially to keep them secure until the icing starts to dry. Allow to dry completely, again ideally overnight. Any gaps left where the pieces don’t quite fit can be filled in with extra icing. Now it’s time to decorate!
Cut the chocolate flake or chocolate roll on an angle and affix to the roof with icing to make the chimney. The mini chocolate finger biscuits can be used along the side of the house and the door. Pipe a little icing on top to represent snow. Sift icing sugar onto the roof of the house and even the whole board for a snowy finish.
- For a thatched roof look use mini wheat cereal
- Pretzels can be used along the facade of the house to create a log cabin feel
- Decorate upturned ice cream cones as trees with icing and green sweets, topped with a star
- Use lollies and sweets to create a winding path from the front door of your house
- Personalise your gingerbread house with the street number of your real house and add gingerbread figures to represent the people who live inside