Making a Gingerbread House

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It’s sort of become a tradition to buy one of those DIY gingerbread house kits and to build it on Christmas day with my cousins and siblings… the constant struggle of keeping the roof in place, trying our best not to eat all the sweets, and then smashing it down at the end of the day!

Though, this year I decided I wanted to try making one from scratch because, well, I have a baking problem.

That, and because half of my cousins are in Goa at the moment, lapping up the sun and lying on the beach. I’m not jealous.

Ingredients

900g plain flour

4tsp ground ginger

4tsp cinnamon

2tsp ground cardamom

2tsp bicarbonate of soda

1tsp ground clove

½tsp ground black pepper

½tsp salt

150ml whole milk

2 medium egg yolks

300g unsalted butter

300g caster sugar

140ml black treacle

100ml golden syrup

500g royal icing sugar

8oml cold water

Method

Preheat oven to 200ºC.

In a large saucepan (these are big quantities!), melt the butter, sugar, treacle and syrup together.

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In a large bowl combine the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, salt and pepper, and bicarbonate of soda.

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In another smaller bowl beat together the milk and egg yolks.

Alternate between the syrupy mixture and the egg mixture, adding them gradually to the dry ingredients. Keep stirring till it forms a stiff but veeery sticky looking dough. Warning: Working together this much dough will probably make your arm hate you the next day! Ouch. 

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Cover in cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for 2 hours.

I used this time to frantically put together a template for the house that would be big enough to produce an impressive house, but small enough to fit inside my lame mini replacement oven. Seriously, it’s like the size of a toaster!

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Once the dough is chilled and the templates drawn, roll out the dough in between two sheets of greaseproof paper (trying not to add any more flour!) to a thickness of approx ¼ of an inch. Then cut out each section with a sharp knife.

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Bake each section for 12mins until firm. Remove from oven and whilst still warm, re-trim using the template. For the windows on the front piece, we crushed up some boiled sweets and filled in the spaces, then placed it back in the oven for a couple minutes till completely melted. Leave all pieces to cool and firm up completely.

Once ready to assemble, you need to make the ‘glue’  by mixing the royal icing sugar with the cold water.

Place ¾ of the icing into a piping bag with a small to medium sized nozzle, and pipe any design/outlining on the wall pieces and leave to dry – to save dribbling when already assembled.

With the remaining ¼of the icing, spread a layer onto your cake board, or whatever you’re assembling the house onto, to help the walls stick to the base.

Now, pipe along the edges of one wall and attach to the base. Continue attaching the other 3 walls. You may want to use a bowl (or a second pair of hands – shout out to the lil sis, Chazza!) to hold the walls until they feel like they’re ready to go on and support themselves. Ahh, they grow up so fast ;).

Let this dry completely before attaching the roof.

Once dry, pipe along the top edges of the wall sections, then one by one add the roof pieces. You may want to cut up some cocktails sticks and push them into the top edges of the walls sections, so the roof pieces can sit on these for more support.

Slather on more icing along all the edges to keep the structure in place, and leave to dry completely for a good few hours.

Then the fun bit, decorate! Using the icing, pipe designs/attach sweets/add a chimney/build a marshmallow snowman… basically, go crazy!

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All dem angles.

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Marshmallow snowman with strawberry laces scarf and pretzel stick arms. Jelly tots pathway. Chocolate covered pretzels fence. Chocolate matchmakers chimney.

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Dust with icing sugar to add even more snow.

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