Gingerbread House

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Gingerbread House

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Have fun with your kids building and decorating a gingerbread house. This recipe does require a bit of waiting in between steps, so be sure to plan ahead.

Ingredients

  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 230g dark brown sugar
  • 125ml treacle
  • 80ml warm water
  • 625g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • To decorate:
  • Large cake board or serving tray
  • ½-¾ packet instant royal icing powder
  • Various sweets
  • Desiccated coconut, optional

Instructions

  1. To make the gingerbread dough, in a medium sized saucepan, combine butter, molasses and sugar. Melt together over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once melted, stir in the water and set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Sift together the flour, spices and baking powder in a large bowl. Form a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Slowly mix together until you have a soft but non-sticky dough. It will have a wet shine to it and be quite soft. Divide dough in half then form each into a flat disc. Wrap each in clingfilm and refrigerate overnight to firm.
  3. When ready to cut and bake the gingerbread, remove dough from the fridge and leave to warm up for about 5-10 minutes, just so that it’s easier to roll out. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.
  4. Generously flour a surface and roll out one of the discs to about 5mm thick. Lay cut out templates on top of dough and use a large sharp knife or pizza wheel to cut along the templates. Arrange shapes on a floured or parchment lined baking sheet. Chill in the fridge for 15 minutes or in the freezer for 5 minutes.
  5. Repeat with the second disc of dough. You may need to knead together and re-roll the leftover dough to cut out the final pieces needed. You can also use cookie cutters to cut additional shapes like trees or gingerbread people. Once dough is chilled, bake each sheet for 15 minutes.
  6. If you want to neaten or straighten any edges, do so as soon as you’ve removed the sheets from the oven while the dough is still warm and soft using a sharp knife. Leave biscuits to cool completely on a wire rack.
  7. Once all biscuits are baked and cooled, empty half of the royal icing powder into a bowl. Add a small amount of water and mix in. Slowly add in water, 1/4 tsp at a time, until your royal icing is firm but pipe-able. If you add too much water, mix in more of the powder.
  8. Spoon royal icing into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe the outline of a door, windows etc on the walls of the gingerbread house and decorate with various sweets while icing is still wet. Then pipe the roof with desired pattern; criss-cross, scalloped etc. and decorate with sweets while icing is still wet. Leave pieces to dry for 2-3 hours, until royal icing has set.
  9. To assemble the house, generously pipe royal icing around the sides and bottom edges of the “back” wall and stick down to the cake board or tray, making sure the smooth baked side will be facing out. Use two mugs or similar to help support the wall, then generously pipe royal icing onto the bottom edge of one of the pointed walls. Attach this to the back wall, adding supports if needed, at a right angle. Again, pipe around the edges of the front wall and attach this to the pointed side wall. Pipe royal icing on bottom edge of final side wall and attach to the front and back walls.
  10. Finally, generously pipe royal icing along the top edges of the house then stick the roof to the house. You can either hold the pieces in place for a few minutes while it dries enough to stay in place, or find suitable props to help. Seal the joint of the roof at the top with more royal icing, you may want to decorate the join with more sweets. Decorate the board or tray as desired with sweet “pathways” or gingerbread trees.
  11. Leave to dry for a couple of hours, then give a dusting of powdered sugar for a snowy effect, or use desiccated coconut to cover the board with “snow”.
  12. You can also choose to decorate the house after assembling which means you don’t have to wait as long for the royal icing to dry before assembly, but of course, it’s easier to decorate when the pieces are lying flat on a surface.
  13. Gingerbread house will keep for 3-4 weeks.
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