22 November 2012

How To: Festive Gingerbread House


I wasn't sure if this would be the best place to post this but I had such a great reaction to this little gingerbread house I made yesterday on Twitter and Facebook as well as requests to write how I made it that I thought I would.

Yesterday was more of a practice run for me for Christmas so my focus was less on decoration and more on the gingerbread house and assembly. I did make a few little decorations, a marshmallow snowman family and a chocolate reindeer but I ate them before the house had set... If you're interested I'll post some instructions on how I made them when I do my 'proper' gingerbread house for Christmas.


Let me first share with you my secret weapon: this fairy tale cottage mould from Lakeland. The mould itself isn't overly festive so it can be used on other occasions; for example it would make a great chocolate house for a children's party or a haunted house on Halloween - the possibilities are endless.

Gingerbread Recipe

You will need 
  • Lakeland Fairy Tale House mould or a gingerbread house template 
  • A baking tray

Ingredients
  • 180g of butter (I used unsalted)
  • 125g brown sugar 
  • 300g golden syrup or treacle 
  • 500g plain flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • Extra flour for rolling

Instructions 

1. Pre-heat your oven to 170 degrees.

2. Melt butter in a large pan over a low heat - make sure you do use a large pan, it's not wasteful as you will see later. When the butter has melted stir in the sugar and the golden syrup, remove from the heat and continue to stir.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the large pan and mix until everything is blended into a thick golden dough.
4.Lightly flour your work surface, tip the dough out and knead until well combined. If you are using the mould, tear off pieces of dough and press into the mould carefully. If you are using a template roll out to the desired thickness and cut your shapes.

5. Bake the gingerbread for 25-35 minutes, until it is firm to the touch - it will become crispy as it cools down so you want it firm, not rock hard.

6. If you're using the mould allow the gingerbread to fully cool before removing. If you're using a template, re-size the gingerbread before it cools if needed.

Once your gingerbread has cooled it is time to make the Royal Icing which will act as your glue and then assemble the gingerbread house.


This is what your gingerbread house should look like when removed from the mould. I'll admit that panic did set in at this point - making things has never been my strong point! 


Royal Icing Recipe

You will need
  • Piping bag

Ingredients
  • 500g of icing sugar, sifted 
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar 
  • 3 egg whites

Instructions
1. Sift/sieve (whichever word you prefer!) the icing sugar into a bowl and add the cream of tartar.

2. Separate three egg whites - I found the easiest way to do this was to crack the egg and tip the yellow between the two shells. I have a bit of a thing where I HATE the feel of egg shells and the smell and texture of raw egg makes me feel sick so if I can manage to do this - anyone can!

3. Using an electric whisk, slowly beat the egg whites into the icing sugar/cream of tartar mix until thick, glossy icing is formed. Your icing should be so stiff the whisk should be able to stand alone (once removed from the electric part of course - no icing is THAT strong!!)

4. Add more icing sugar if needed to stiffen the mixture.

5. Spoon into a piping bag and twist the top closed.

Assembling Your Gingerbread House

You will need

  • A cake board (10 or 12 inches depending on how many decorations you wish to add - mine was 12 inches)
  • Some mugs or glasses
  • Large amounts of patience

Instructions

1. Begin with the front of your house - pipe icing along the base of the house and position on the board. Use kitchen mugs or glasses to hold the panel in place.

2. Add one side of the house - pipe icing along the short side that will connect with the front of the house and along the base of the panel. Position on the board and secure with a mug. Repeat for the other side.

3. For the back of the house pipe icing along the bottom of the panel and along the edge of the flat sides that will connect with the other walls. Secure with a mug and leave to set for 20-30 minutes.

This is what it should look like - at this point you have to ask the Christmas Elves to make sure nobody wants tea or coffee - or hide the kettle! 

Adding the roof

The roof looks like the trickiest part and with good reason, you can't use mugs as you did for the walls and if you apply too much pressure then your whole house might collapse, too little and the roof won't stick.

4. Place the roof on one panel at a time. Pipe icing down the slated sides of the front and back of the house and along the top of the wall. Place the roof panel and press into place - holding gentle for 30-60 seconds.
Repeat for the other side.

5. If there is a gap in your roof at the top (there was in mine) - fill this with piped icing. I also used this as a chance to add some decoration.
Your gingerbread house is now assembled! Next up is the decoration at that's really up to the individual.


I opted to cut up some candy canes to use as a fence and to decorate the sides and roof of my house. I also made a gingerbread tree which I covered in green ready-to-roll icing and silver balls. I added a handmade Christmas wreath to the front door and dusted the whole thing with icing sugar. 

The whole thing is far easier than I had expected and I'm just sorry that I put off making it for so long for fear it would fail!

If you have any questions please ask, I'm only to happy to answer them! Also, if you make a gingerbread house, or have made one already, leave me a picture as I'd love to see it!


Vicky x
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5 comments

  1. Awww I want to try this! So cute and yummy!

    www.poptartsandsexx.blogspot.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great step by step instructions, looks fab and very professional. Considering its your first time it's really really good xx

    ReplyDelete
  3. Amazing , so so cute! I wanna make one! X

    ReplyDelete

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