3D Gingerbread Christmas Tree
Make this showstopping Gingerbread Christmas Tree as a centrepiece for your festive table.
When I saw a mini Christmas Tree made out of gingerbread I just had to try one for myself. It looked so regal and festive on the glossy pages of the magazine. I pictured the finished product, my 3D Gingerbread Christmas Tree standing tall and impressive in the middle of the table.
And then I tried the magazine recipe. And it sucked. The gingerbread recipe was dry and crumbly. I tried to fix it but I could tell it wasn’t going to work from the texture. And there was no way it would yield enough dough to make the tree. I got so mad!
Being frustrated with recipes shared by big publishers is why I started to blog my favourite recipes instead. I was so tired of seeing beautifully styled and immaculately presented food in the magazine, only to find it was a huge letdown in real life.
Finding the best baking recipes for Christmas and other important events is so important. As home bakers we’re often rushed for time and can’t afford to offer to make a dish for a get-together, only to find out it sucks at the last minute.
That’s why I’ve reworked this 3D Gingerbread Christmas Tree recipe from scratch. I’ve used the gingerbread recipe I’ve made before and know is tasty and reliable. It’s the same one from these Gingerbread Christmas Cookies. I also used my own Royal Icing recipe, the same as the one used in the Unicorn Cookies.
I’ve also tried to include as much helpful information as I could in the step-by-step 3D Gingerbread Christmas Tree guide. Magazines have limited publishing space, but not us!
And lastly, I have an eight-minute, narrated step-by-step video tutorial on how to create this Gingerbread Tree Centerpiece to watch below.
My extra tips would be to give yourself one full day to create the tree, and get someone to help you put it together at the end. It’s way too hard to try assembling the tree by yourself. Trust me. I tried!
Don’t forget to download the free Gingerbread Christmas Tree Template!
HOW TO MAKE A 3D GINGERBREAD CHRISTMAS TREE
Click to watch how to make a 3D Gingerbread Christmas Tree
3D GINGERBREAD CHRISTMAS TREE
Makes: one 22cm tall gingerbread tree, serves 12+ people
Large Baking tray(s)
Electric mixer / stand mixer
Firm thick cardboard and printed template
Small Star cookie cutter
23cm round cake board
Small paint brush
100g Unsalted Butter, softened to room temperature
100g Brown Sugar
80g Honey or Golden Syrup
1 Egg Yolk + ½ Egg
Pinch of Salt
¼ teaspoon Bicarbonate Soda
½ teaspoon ground Ginger
½ teaspoon ground Cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground Nutmeg
305g Plain Flour
380g Icing Sugar
2 Egg Whites
1-2 teaspoons Lemon Juice
Green food colouring
Coloured Sprinkles of your choice
Cornflour / cornstarch, to dust
1 tablespoon apricot jam
1 tablespoon boiling water
Edible gold paint (I love Sweet Sticks Glamorous Gold)
Print out this 3D Gingerbread Template. Cut out the tree stencil and tape it onto some firm thick cardboard. Trace around the edges of the tree stencil then cut the shape out of the cardboard.
Add the soft butter, brown sugar and honey or golden syrup to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is thick, pale and creamy. Gradually beat in the eggs until everything is well combined. Add the salt, bicarbonate soda, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg and beat until mixed through.
Stir the flour with a wooden spoon until evenly mixed. Tip out the dough onto a clean bench and gently knead together. Separate the dough into two balls, flatten them into a disc, wrap each in plastic film, and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius (150 fan-forced; 300 F).
Unwrap one disc of dough. Lightly flour the bench and your rolling pin. Knead the dough to soften it if it’s too firm, then roll the dough 4mm thick. Place the cardboard tree shape over the top and carefully cut around the stencil with a knife. Gently transfer the tree shape onto a large baking tray lined with baking paper, then place it in the freezer for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes take the tray from the freezer and place it straight into the oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the gingerbread is deeper golden brown underneath. If the long edge of the tree is no longer straight after baking, use a sharp knife to re-cut a new straight edge while the gingerbread is still hot. Let the piece cool completely.
Repeat the rolling, freezing, and baking process until you have five tree pieces. Also cut and bake two star shapes.
Decorating the gingerbread
When the gingerbread pieces are cool, prepare the icing. Add the egg whites, icing sugar, lemon juice and a few drops of green food colouring to a medium bowl. Beat together with electric beaters until smooth. Do not whip the icing or overbeat it. It’s at the right consistency when ribbons of icing disappear into the icing in 8-10 seconds. Add a little extra lemon juice if it’s too thick, or a little extra icing sugar if it’s too thin.
Transfer the icing into a piping bag, twist the end and secure it with an elastic band. Trim the tip so the opening is about 2-3mm wide.
Pipe an outline around all the edges of each gingerbread pieces except the straight edge. Pipe wavy green lines across each tree piece, leaving about 1cm between each one. While the icing is still wet, add your sprinkles and decorations. Repeat for all five pieces. Allow the icing to set completely, then flip over the pieces and repeat the process for the other side. Keep the remaining royal icing in the piping bag for later.
Paint gold edible paint on the front of both star shapes. Set aside to dry. When dry, pipe a little icing onto the back and stick the stars back-to-back.
The cake board
Cover the 23cm round cake board with fondant while the decorated gingerbread pieces are setting. First mix the apricot jam and boiling water together to form a sticky syrup.
Generously dust your bench with cornflour. Knead the fondant together to soften it, then roll it out to a 3mm thick circle with a 25cm diameter roughly.
Brush the cake board with the sticky syrup, carefully pick up the fondant over your rolling pin and drape it onto the board. Smooth the top down, and cut away the excess from the edges of the board. Set aside to dry.
Definitely find a second person to help you assemble the gingerbread tree!
Start by sticking two gingerbread pieces together flat. Pipe a line of royal icing down the long edge of one piece and connect it to the long side of another piece. Hold together for several minutes until the icing has set.
When those two pieces are stuck together, pipe a line of icing down the long side of a third piece and stick it where the other pieces join, at a right angle, forming a T. This piece will be the back. Get someone to hold them in place while you pipe extra icing into the new joins. Hold it together until they can support each other standing up.
Pipe another line of icing down the long side of the last two pieces. Join them at the front of the gingerbread tree at the centre, facing out at 45-degree angles. Get someone to hold them in place while you pipe extra icing into the new joins on either side of the edges.
Pipe icing onto the top of the tree and glue the star on top. Add more icing along the side of the gingerbread trees branches. Allow the gingerbread tree to set completely. When dry, pipe some icing onto the centre of the cake board, and stick the gingerbread tree to it.
- Don’t skip the freezing stage of the gingerbread. This stops the gingerbread from spreading in the oven and warping its shape. If the edges don’t stay straight you’ll have a hard time sticking the tree together later.
- It’s okay if the edge is a little crooked as it bakes. Just cut a straighter edge into the hot gingerbread before it cools completely.
- Don’t overbeat your royal icing. It will get too much air into it, the icing will be brittle and will fall off the tree.
- Let the decorated tree branches dry completely before flipping them over to decorate the other side, or the icing will crush.
- Instead of gold edible paint on the star you could tint some fondant yellow, cut out two star shapes, and stick it to the star cookies with the sticky syrup.
- The assembly needs lots of time and patience to complete. It’s a good idea to do all your gingerbread baking and tree branch decorating on one day, let everything set, then attempt to stick it together the following day.
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