A gingerbread house is the very essence of Christmas
For me, a gingerbread house is a necessity every Christmas. Even though I don’t yet have children, I relish the day that I will be able to make these with my kids, and long into the future, make them with my grandkids. They smell so delicious, are so fun to make, and look incredibly impressive once put together. With a few little tricks, you can make an amazing gingerbread house too. Let me show you how!
Makes one house approximately 15cm high by 12cm wide
3 cups self raising flour
3 cups plain flour
260g caster sugar
3 Tbsp gingerbread spice mix
2 tsp ginger
250g soft unsalted butter
80ml thick cream
75g golden syrup
2 whole eggs
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl of an electric mixer.
With the mixer on low, gradually add in the soft butter until evenly spread evenly through and the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Add cream, syrup and eggs and mix until a soft dough forms.
Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a floured surface until smooth. Rest the dough for 15 minutes before rolling out and cutting out your shapes.
Use the Cooking for Cheats gingerbread house template to cut your pieces to size, and use the remaining batter to cut a chimney, some trees and some gingerbread people.
Bake the larger pieces in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until deeply golden. The smaller pieces (trees, chimney, people) will only need 15-20 minutes, so it’s best to put these on a separate tray and keep an eye on them.
2 egg whites
3 cups sifted icing sugar
½ tsp lemon juice / vanilla essence (optional)
To make a gingerbread house, you need a very strong icing. Beat 2 eggwhites until stiff peaks form (you can tell it’s done, if when you hold it upside down over your head, it doesn’t fall on you!). Gradually add the sifted icing sugar in small amounts and beat until absorbed. Keep adding icing sugar until the icing resembles a thick paste. The icing should just about form stiff peaks itself, and should definitely not be runny. Add lemon juice or vanilla essence and stir through to combine.
To put it together:
Start on the actual surface you will be building the house on, it’s pretty hard to move it later, without it falling apart.
Lots of squiggled icing holds pieces together
Take the front piece, and a side wall, and squiggle the end of the side wall with plenty of strong icing. Making sure the bases of both pieces are firmly on the “ground”, press the side wall firmly into the back of the front panel and hold for about 1 minute.
The side pieces fit inside the outline of the front and back pieces
You should be able to let go and have the piece stand up by themselves. Repeat the process with the second wall panel. Squiggle plenty of icing onto the remaining 2 exposed ends of the side walls and press the back panel into place, holding firmly on both sides for another minute until it holds. Allow the icing to set for 15-30 minutes before trying to attach the roof pieces.
stick the roof pieces on with plenty of icing
To attach the roof pieces, squiggle lots of icing onto the slanted edges of the front and back pieces, doing one side at a time. With an even overhang on both front and back, line up the first roof piece at the top of the peak, allowing the bottom of the roof piece to overhang.
You can help the roof piece stick, by inserting a sharp toothpick carefully through the top of the roof piece, into the upright section of the front piece. You can remove these when the icing has set, or just push them right in and ice over them to hide them.
Squiggle more icing underneath the roof panel, to help it stick to the side wall. Repeat with the second roof panel. You can also add more icing between the underside of the roof panels and the front panels. Cement the gap at the very top between the two roof panels with plenty of icing. You can start adding sweets and candy decorations at this point and add the chimney, with plenty of icing to hold it in place.
Stick the chimney on with plenty of icing and decorate the roof with colourful lollies
Now you can decorate your house!
Squiggle a good amount of icing around the base of the house to hold it firmly to the surface.
Drip extra icing off the eaves to create icicles
Squiggle lots of icing onto the edges of the roof to look like snow and icicles.
Use the icing to stick the decorations onto the house and to hold trees upright, around the house.
Build a little fence using long thin sweets like licorice bullets or musk sticks.
Draw roof tiles on in a scalloped pattern with the icing, or apply a coating of freckles or white chocolate buttons.
Make a door out of lollies, or an offcut of gingerbread. If you want to get crafty, you can cut a door frame out of the template before (or after) cooking, and place a door in it, using a toothpick as a hinge in the top of the door frame.
For us, the gingerbread house looks different every year, depending on what’s going on in our lives, who is with us at the time, and what sweets we can find to hand. Go nuts and most importantly, have fun!
Wrap your gingerbread house in clear cellophane and tie with a Christmassy ribbon to present as a gift
If you have to cut the pieces to fit better, don’t worry about it, you can easily cover up the cuts with icing and lollies and hide all your sins!
Make lots of trees and gingerbread men for people to eat, if you want the house to survive!
The house will keep, standing, for around a month, in moderate to cool temperatures (don’t refrigerate). It will stay standing, long after it is still good to eat, as it will naturally go stale after time.
If you want to eat the house, I wouldn’t recommend making it more than a week in advance.