This is my second attempt at making a gingerbread house. Last year’s attempt was a complete disaster, so I tried to learn from my mistakes this year. I made the gingerbread too chewy and thick, which is how I like it as a cookie but architecturally speaking, it didn’t hold. Compared to many of them out there, it’s a pretty simple-looking house and not that impressive, but I’m happy it’s still currently standing!
Especially given that it’s currently 43 degrees celsius outside, I had to keep putting it in the fridge for five minutes, then decorating for five and so on to stop the icing from melting everywhere. Also, while I was kneading, the dough was already drying out and crumbling because of the heat, so I had to keep adding water to the mixture.
I thought I’d share the recipe. I did some research beforehand and used bits here and there from several recipes because I was so nervous that it would be a disaster again.
Gingerbread House Ingredients:
- 50g brown sugar
- 200g butter
- 4tbs golden syrup
- 2tbs black treacle
- 2tbs water
- 2tbs ground cinnamon
- 2tbs ground ginger
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 450g plain flour
- 2 egg whites
- 3 cups icing sugar
- A pinch of cream of tartar
You can easily find these ingredients on Amazon.
Melt your butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then add the brown sugar, golden syrup and black treacle. Ensure you keep stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon to prevent it from burning. Next, add the water, cinnamon and ginger. When all of it has dissolved, turn the heat off.
While it’s still hot, add in the bicarbonate of soda which should make the mixture rise and lighten in colour. Slowly mix in the plain flour until you end up with gingerbread dough. The mixture shouldn’t be overly sticky or overly crumbly. If it’s too sticky, add some flour. If it’s too crumbly, add some water.
Take this opportunity to preheat your oven to 170 degrees celsius and line your trays. Divide your dough into three sections. One for the roof, one for the side walls and one for the front and back walls.
You can look up some gingerbread house templates online, but I just went freehand and cut six even rectangles and, with the leftover scraps, cut out four little circles to resemble the two windows on the side and the two attic windows.
Before rolling out your dough, make sure to flour your surface, so it doesn’t get stuck. Also, for a gingerbread house, the dough has to be quite thin, hard and light, so I used less bicarbonate of soda in the recipe. Also, I rolled out the dough much thinner than I usually would, about 3mm.
Put the rolled-out dough in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. Allow them to cool for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wired cooling rack. Then allow your gingerbread to completely cool before you even begin putting the house together.
Otherwise, the royal icing won’t be as tacky as possible to hold the house together. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites with an electric whisk until they are thick and fluffy. Slowly add the icing sugar to a cup as it begins to shine. Lastly, add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until the mixture is stiff.
Finally, it’s time to put together the house! I used jam bottles and other bits you’d find in a kitchen to support the roof and the walls. I don’t know about those of you who are currently experiencing winter. Still, after I had built the structure and was happy with it, I put the whole house in the fridge for about fifteen minutes to let the icing set before I started decorating.
For the decorations, you can go all out. I was so worried my house would melt in the heat that I’d decorate one side of the roof and put it back in the fridge for a couple of minutes before repeating the process.
Let me know if you’ve made a gingerbread house this year!
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