How To Make A Gingerbread House
Gingerbread Houses might seem like daunting fiddly things to put together so I’ve written a How To Make A Gingerbread House guide for you. If you combine baking, architecture, construction and craft, you get a marvellous Gingerbread House. Or if it doesn’t quite go to plan, just call it some festive abstract art.
Gingerbread Houses might seem like daunting fiddly things to put together so I’ve written a How To Make A Gingerbread House guide for you. If you combine baking, architecture, construction and craft, you get a marvellous Gingerbread House. Or if it doesn’t quite go to plan, just call it some festive abstract art. If it’s your first Gingerbread House, the key is to keep it simple, plan ahead and make sure you gather all your equipment. You will need to allow at least one day to bake and assemble the house. Sounds like a fair bit of work, but it’s fun to make and really rewarding once you see the finished product.
HOW TO MAKE A GINGERBREAD HOUSE
Makes: one house, serves at least 12 people
Difficulty: Medium, fiddly to put together
Large rolling pin
A gingerbread house template
Strong serving tray or cake board to build the gingerbread house on
Electric mixer/stand mixer
Piping bag and small round nozzle
500g Brown Sugar
360ml Whipping Cream
425g Golden Syrup (or molasses)
1.6kg Plain Flour
2 tablespoons Baking Soda
1 tablespoon Ginger Powder
1 tablespoon ground Nutmeg
1 tablespoon Cinnamon Powder
2 teaspoons ground Cloves
1 large Egg, egg white separated
330g Pure Icing Sugar
1 teaspoon White Vinegar
1 teaspoon Almond Extract (or essence, or lemon juice)
Use your imagination to decide what lollies, candy, and biscuits could be used on the house. Chocolate fingers make excellent wood logs. Coloured wafers can be window-shutters. Mint leaves can be shrubs. Coloured desiccated coconut could be grass. Jubes can be stained glass windows. Chocolate freckles can be roof tiles. Smarties or M&Ms can be flower beds. Go wild.
In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the brown sugar, cream and golden syrup until the mixture is smooth and any lumps are dissolved.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves.
Add the flour one third at a time, stirring between each addition. When it gets too hard to stir transfer the dough to a clean bench and knead until all the flour is mixed through evenly.
Divide the dough into 4 even balls. Flatten each into a disc. Wrap each very well in clingfilm and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours. The dough will firm up in the fridge.
Cutting the gingerbread shapes
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius (130 fan-forced; 300F). Set your kitchen timer for 20 minutes.
Remove the dough from the fridge. Spread a little flour over a large baking tray. On the baking tray, roll out enough dough to cut at least one gingerbread shape from. The dough should be 5mm thick (Knead it out if it’s too hard to roll straight from the fridge at first).
Place one of the house templates over the dough. Use a sharp paring knife to cut out the shape. Remove the excess dough and add it back to a disc. Keep rolling dough and cutting shapes until you can’t fit anymore on the tray(s) or in your oven. If the dough gets too warm and sticky to cut, put it back in the fridge for 10 minutes. (Keep all dough discs and offcuts in the fridge if you’re not using them or waiting for a batch of gingerbread to cook).
Check oven is at the correct temperature. Place the baking tray in the oven. The pieces are done when they are firm to touch. If not ready, add another 5 minutes to the timer and check again.
Remove the shapes from the oven. While still warm, place the templates back over the pieces and cut any extra gingerbread edges that spread while baking.
Continue the process of rolling, cutting shapes, baking, and trimming the edges until you have all of the components for your gingerbread house. Allow all pieces to cool completely.
Making the royal icing (just before assembling the house)
Add the egg white, almond flavour and vinegar to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat together on medium speed. Keep the beaters going and slowly add the icing sugar until all of it has been mixed together.
To check the consistency of the icing grab a butter knife and draw a line in the icing. It should take about 10 seconds of the line to completely disappear. If it goes too quickly, beat in a little more icing and test again until the right consistency is achieved.
Cover the icing with clingfilm to stop it from drying out.
Assemble the walls of the gingerbread house (might need 2 people)
Cover your cake board or serving tray with foil.
Fill a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle with royal icing. You’ll be using the icing as glue to stick the walls to the board, then the walls to each other where they join.
Get one long wall of the house. Pipe a generous amount of royal icing on the edge that will meet the board, then stick it to the board in the right position. Get someone to hold the wall up while you work or prop it up with canned goods.
Grab the front wall of the house. Pipe along the bottom edge of the wall and the side that will join the long wall. Place it on the correct spot on the tray. Pipe extra icing inside the house at the join.
Repeat with the other walls of the house but NOT the roof just yet.
Allow the four walls to dry completely. You may need to prop all of them up with something until the icing has dried hard.
Once the walls are dry grab the roof pieces. Get someone to hold them in the right spot on the house while you pipe icing along all the places where the roof touches the walls and where the roof pieces join each other. Don’t let go of the roof until the icing has hardened.
Cover the leftover royal icing with clingfilm.
Assemble the candies, chocolate pieces, lollies and biscuits you’ll use to decorate your house.
Place royal icing into a piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle. “Glue” the decorations onto the house as you wish using the icing.
- The gingerbread recipe here makes a stronger dough than you’d use for gingerbread cookies. This makes stronger gingerbread walls for the house.
- Don’t over knead the gingerbread dough. The gluten might overdevelop and the dough might turn crumbly.
- The royal icing is the glue holding the house together. It can also be piped to add roof tiles or thatching, hanging icicles or intricate designs on the house.
- Royal icing hardens with exposure to air. Make sure it remains covered when you’re not using it.
- Have several cups of tea on standby; assembling the house might test your patience!
Gingerbread recipe adapted from Good Housekeeping