Gingerbread scents filling the house and the crunchy snap of that first bite! Ahhh, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the perfect Gingerbread House
200g dark muscovado sugar
7tbsp (150g) golden syrup
650g plain flour,
plus extra for sprinkling
5tsp ground ginger
2tsp bicarbonate of soda
Several sheets of
House part templates
or cutters (see tip below)
250g pack flower and moulding paste
250g icing sugar
1 egg white
Selection of small sweets, silver balls, etc.
1. Put the sugar into a large saucepan. Cut the butter into pieces and add to the pan. Measure in the syrup. If you prefer, put the pan onto digital scales, zero them, and weigh in the syrup to exactly the correct amount. Heat gently to melt slowly, stirring occasionally. Do not allow the mixture to boil.
2. Sift the plain flour, ginger and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl, stirring to mix thoroughly. Pour in the melted mixture and stir together with a wooden spoon to make a stiff dough, using your hand to bring the mixture together. Preheat the oven to 200°C, Fan Oven 180°C, Gas Mark 6.
3. Put a sheet of baking paper onto a work surface and sprinkle it with a little flour. Take about a quarter of the dough and press it out with your fingertips until it’s quite flat (this is easier than rolling, as it helps prevent it from cracking). Now take a lightly floured rolling pin and carefully roll out until about 0.5cm thick.
4. Cut out the first shape for your gingerbread house using a cutter or template. Remove the cutter or template, then slide the section, still on the baking paper, onto a baking sheet. Continue to roll out more of the dough, re-using the trimmings, until you have two side walls, two roof panels and two gable ends. Use trimmings to make a chimney, Christmas trees, snowflakes and stars, if you like.
5. You will need to bake the sections in batches, each for 11-12min, until firm and a little darker around the edges. Before you cook the front gable end, use cutters or templates to remove the door and mark out two windows (these can be removed more easily once this section is baked).
After baking, cool all sections on the baking tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
6. Thinly roll out the moulding paste on a surface dusted with icing sugar. Cut out 4 window frames. Use a small round or heart-shaped cutter to stamp out about 60 roof slates.
Leave to harden for 20min. Beat the egg white and icing sugar together to make a thick icing. Place in a piping bag fitted with a medium-sized plain tube. Use the icing to fix the window frames to the side walls and the slates to the roof panels.
7. Construct the house: pipe icing thickly onto a cake board where each panel will stand. Put the first panel in place. Pipe icing thickly along the wall edge. Fix on the gable end, using a butter dish or bowl to support the pieces until 3 pieces are fixed. Remove the support and fix on the front gable end. Leave for 20min, then fix on the roof panels. Leave overnight to dry. Decorate with sweets as in the main picture, fixing in place with icing.
Makes 1 house
Recipes and food styling: Sue Ashworth
Photography: Jonathan Short