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Gingerbread House

Ingredients

For the gingerbread biscuits

  • 600 g Plain flour
  • 2 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
  • 200 g Butter or baking spread
  • 3 tsp Ground ginger
  • 3 tsp Mixed spice
  • 300 g Light brown sugar
  • 200 g Golden syrup
  • 2 Eggs large

For the caramel

  • 100 g Caster sugar

For the royal icing

  • 3 Egg whites large
  • 450 g Icing sugar sifted
  • 1/2 tsp Cream of tartar

For decoration (optional - pick what you like!)

  • Smarties
  • Jelly tots
  • M&Ms
  • Sprinkles

Instructions

  1. In a pan gently heat the golden syrup, set it aside to cool for 5 minutes

  2. Put the plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, and butter into a bowl and rub the mixture together with your hands until it resembles breadcrumbs

  3. Add the ground ginger, mixed spice, and light brown sugar and stir them in

  4. Beat the eggs together in a small bowl or cup

  5. Pour the eggs and golden syrup into the flour mixture, then mix until a dough forms. Wrap it in cling film and chill for 1 hour in the fridge

  6. Pre-heat your oven to 160C Fan/180C/350F/Gas Mark 4, and line your baking tray(s) with baking paper

  7. You can use a cookie cutter set for this house or download and print my template (see the link before and after this recipe) - you will need two of each piece for a full house

  8. Roll about a quarter of the dough out onto a well floured surface to a thickness of 5mm using a rolling pin and use your template or cutters to start cutting out the shapes of the house. Keep rolling out more dough until you have all the shapes. If you don't have enough baking trays to put all of the shapes on, then you can pop any unrolled dough back in the fridge wrapped up in cling film while you're waiting for pieces to bake

  9. Place your cut out pieces onto the lined baking tray(s) and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown all over. You may need to bake them in batches if you don't have enough space on the tray(s). Remember to leave gaps between them as they will spread a bit

  10. Let them cool on the tray for at least 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack as the biscuit will be very delicate when hot, then let them cool fully on cooling racks

  11. To assemble the house, first check the side and front/back pieces to see if they need trimming and do so carefully. You want to make sure the edges on the bottom are flat so the house doesn't wobble, and that the ends of the side pieces are flat so they stick neatly to the front/back pieces. I use a serrated knife to gently trim the biscuit pieces

  12. I assembled my house first on a chopping board covered in baking paper so the caramel wouldn't stick to it. I had a cake board covered in green fondant ready for the house when it was assembled. I prefer to use caramel as it sets fast, but you can also use royal icing if you prefer - if using the royal icing then you can stick it straight on the fondant base or serving plate

  13. To make the caramel heat the sugar in a pan on a low-medium heat until it goes golden. Keep it on a low heat whilst assembling otherwise the caramel will harden quickly

  14. Safety first! You will need someone to help you assemble it, this is a two person job. Also please be careful! Caramel is very hot and hurts a lot if it gets on your skin when it's hot. I find wearing rubber gloves helps to protect your skin

  15. Start with the front piece and stick both the sides to it by dipping the biscuit into the caramel then pressing the edges together. You can also drip more caramel along the edges using a spoon to secure it. Then put the back on, and finally the roof pieces. You may need to trim the roof and test the fit before applying the caramel

  16. Once the house is assembled, the caramel will harden and cool fairly quickly. You can then put the house onto the serving plate or cake board

  17. To decorate, put all of the royal icing ingredients in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment - or use a handheld electric whisk - and whisk for 7-10 minutes until it's thick and holds it shape. You can also buy ready made royal icing if you prefer

  18. Then it's time to get creative! Put the royal icing into a piping bag and pipe on roof tiles, windows and a door. Stick any sweets onto the house using the icing as 'glue'. Add more icing to cover the edges of the house and make it look like it's been heavily snowed on!

  19. I made a Christmas tree by wrapping a waffle ice cream cone in green fondant and sticking mini smarties baubles onto it. I also added a pile of snowballs next to the house. Add whatever you like, maybe some gingerbread people with extra dough? Make sure to have fun and make it your own!