Make your own gingerbread

I have decided to make a gingerbread house this year, part of me thinks I must be mad as I’m sure it’s going to provide me with a bit of a challenge and I’m not that crazy about gingerbread.  However I’ve been inspired by some of the images below and love the idea of designing and decorating my own house.

Very fancy!
Looks difficult.
Pretty and colourful.

So last weekend I thought I’d be organised and have a go at the gingerbread recipe before I make a start on my house.  I couldn’t believe how easy it was, it took no time at all to whip up the mixture, cut the shapes out and bake them in oven.  I’m sure a whole house will be far more stressful but at least now I know what to expect from the recipe.  I followed one from Good food magazine and halved the recipe as I was only practising by making little men.  If you’re not making the house and/or prefer a softer gingerbread I would suggest using a different recipe as the biscuit was quite hard and crunchy, obviously it needs to be for a house.  Mind you, my gingerbread men were still tasty and went down a treat at work.

YOU WILL NEED;

FOR THE GINGERBREAD

250g unsalted butter

200g dark muscovado sugar

7 tbsp golden syrup

600g plain flour

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

4 tsp ground ginger

TO DECORATE

200g bag flaked almonds

2 egg whites

500g icing sugar , plus extra to dust

125g pack mini chocolate fingers

generous selcetion sweets of your choice, choose your own colour theme

1 mini chocolate roll or a dipped chocolate flake

few edible silver balls

Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan. Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger into a large bowl, then stir in the butter mixture to make a stiff dough. If it won’t quite come together, add a tiny splash of water.

Cut out the template (see below to download). Put a sheet of baking paper on your work surface and roll about one quarter of the dough to the thickness of two £1 coins. Cut out one of the sections, then slide the gingerbread, still on its baking paper, onto a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, re-rolling the trimmings, until you have two side walls, a front and back wall and two roof panels. Any leftover dough can be cut into Christmas trees, if you like.

Pick out the most intact flaked almonds and gently poke them into the roof sections, pointy-end first, to look like roof tiles. Bake all the sections for 12 mins or until firm and just a little darker at the edges. Leave to cool for a few mins to firm up, then trim around the templates again to give clean, sharp edges. Leave to cool completely.

Put the egg whites in a large bowl, sift in the icing sugar, then stir to make a thick, smooth icing. Spoon into a piping bag with a medium nozzle. Pipe generous snakes of icing along the wall edges, one by one, to join the walls together. Use a small bowl to support the walls from the inside, then allow to dry, ideally for a few hours.

Once dry, remove the supports and fix the roof panels on. The angle is steep so you may need to hold these on firmly for a few mins until the icing starts to dry. Dry completely, ideally overnight. To decorate, pipe a little icing along the length of 20 mini chocolate fingers and stick these lengthways onto the side walls of the house. Use three, upright, for the door. Using the icing, stick sweets around the door and on the front of the house. To make the icicles, start with the nozzle at a 90-degree angle to the roof and squeeze out a pea-sized blob of icing. Keeping the pressure on, pull the nozzle down and then off – the icing will pull away, leaving a pointy trail. Repeat all around the front of the house. Cut the chocolate mini roll or dipped Flake on an angle, then fix with icing to make a chimney. Pipe a little icing around the top. If you’ve made gingerbread trees, decorate these now, too, topping each with a silver ball, if using. Dust the roof with icing sugar for a snowy effect. Lay a winding path of sweets, and fix gingerbread trees around and about using blobs of icing. Your gingerbread house will be edible for about a week but will last a lot longer.

Click here to download a template from Good food.

I have a week off before Christmas which is when I plan to make my gingerbread house.  I think I might have a go at designing my own template and using different sweets to decorate.  I’ll post the finished product when I’ve done it, if you decide to have a go, do share! I’d love to see it. xx

PS.  This would make a great gift for the family! 

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