In our household, Christmas would not be Christmas without a gingerbread house. Every Christmas Eve since my children were fairly small I have made the house and the offspring have decorated it with as much sweet confection as they can get their hands on. They tend to follow the rule of one for the house one for them!!! I have followed a recipe gleaned from The Children’s Step by Step cook book by Angela Wilkes bought many years ago from a Dorling Kindersley book party. Try this link to buy : http://www.dk.co.uk/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780751351217,00.html Right first things first. Ingredients:
- 340g plain flour
- 115g unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 beaten egg
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda – do not forget this, I did twice and the result is sturdy to say the least (teeth shattering in fact!!!!)
- 175g soft brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons golden syrup
- I also add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and a dash of ground cloves for extra xmas spice. Nutmeg is also a lovely addition.
- Royal icing – you can now buy a pack of royal icing that just needs water added. I use around half a pack for this recipe.
Method: In a saucepan put the butter, syrup and sugar and then stir over a gentle heat until melted together. In a bowl sift the flour, spices and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl. Add the slightly cooled syrup mixture and the beaten egg. Mix together, once combined place the dough into a plastic bag and chill in the fridge for a minimun of thirty minutes.
Preheat your oven to 190 degrees C, Gas mark 5 Sprinkle some flour onto your work surface and roll out your dough to a thickness of 1/2 cm (1/4 in). Use your template to cut out your pieces for your house. The nicest one I have found is at http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/4900/ There you will find another recipe for gingerbread as well as a template you can download.
Cook your pieces for between 8 and 12 minutes. Keep an eye on them as they do catch on the corners which would be a shame after you’ve worked so hard. Cool on a wire rack. This recipe does give you more than enough mixture to make not only your house but also a collection of shapes which can include trees, stars and of course traditional gingerbread men.
Right time to assemble your creation. Mix up your batch of royal icing following the packet instructions. Once mixed place this mixture into a piping bag. You can buy disposable ones fairly cheaply which make cleaning up a breeze. Pipe an even line of icing down the sides you intend to stick and push firmly together. You can use a tumbler or mug to lean the first pieces up against until they hold together, this won’t take long at all. I usually put all the ground pieces together and then leave it to set thoroughly before attempting to put the roof on. When you do put the roof on you can lean it against something to hold it in pace whilst it is setting but if your icing is thick enough it should hold fine. Now comes the fun bit, watch as your offspring smother your darling house with all the little sweeties you bought earlier. Jelly tots, smarties, chocolate buttons all work really well. Have fun, Enjoy Lx