A Gingerbread House

For those of you who were following my blog last Christmas you might recall I made a gingerbread house that imploded.  I had just come home from being away on an eight-day business trip and it was now but a few days away from Christmas Day and I was trying to fit four weeks of preparation into three days.  Not a good idea.

No implosions this year!

No implosions this year!

Gingerbread houses don’t like to be rushed.  You shouldn’t roll the gingerbread out to thickly or rush the pieces out of the oven, (I did both), as this will give you a soft gingerbread that won’t be able to support the weight of a roof.  Once you have erected the walls you need to wait until the icing has hardened (about an hour) before attempting to put up the roof.  After watching my newly finished house fold like a deck of cards, I think I screamed as my head spun around three times.

Straight out of the oven and cooling

Straight out of the oven and cooling

But, 12 months later I’m back in the saddle, remembering where I went wrong and believing, you only make those mistakes once.

The icing should be smooth with soft peaks

The icing should be smooth with soft peaks

In order not to re-visit the past too much, I’ve gone with a new design and a new recipe.  This gingerbread house turned out really well.  I’m pleased to announce there were no dramas.  It wasn’t even a stressful process.  One great tip I learned from the December 2011 issue of Gourmet Traveller is to ice and decorate the pieces before you assemble the house.  It’s much easier to decorate gingerbread pieces when they’re lying flat rather than standing vertically and when the pieces have icing on them, this adds to their strength for when you come to assembling the house.

House pieces being given time for the icing to harden

House pieces being given time for the icing to harden

 

Decorated Christmas trees, resting

Decorated Christmas trees, resting – no rushing here!

This is a spicy gingerbread and so the aroma as the pieces are cooking is fantastic.  And now that my house is assembled and standing I can smell it every time I walk past.  It’s so lovely and festive.

Using tumblers to give some support to the walls

Using tumblers to give some support to the walls

 

The front door is affixed

The front door is affixed and there’s snow on the ground

A Gingerbread House

Serves:  Many, many, many

Degree of Difficulty:  3/5

Cost:  Very inexpensive for the volume of what you end up with.

  • 4 2/3 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tspns cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tspns ground cloves
  • 1 tspn ground nutmeg
  • 220gm (7.76 ozs) cold butter, cubed
  • 3/4 cup golden syrup
  • 2 eggs

Royal Icing:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 900gm (32 ozs) icing sugar, sieved

Using a food processor, process half of the flour, sugars, baking powder and spices to combine well.  Add half the butter, process to combine, then add half the golden syrup and 1 egg and process until mixture comes together (3-4 minutes).  Turn out onto a work surface, knead until mixture comes together, wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least an hour.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Preheat oven to 180C (375F).

Using sturdy paper, cut out templates, 2 of each:

Roof pieces:  10.5cm x 27cm

Side walls:  14cm x 24cm long

End walls:  13cm x 14cm high with a 6cm-high pitch for the roof

Roll out gingerbread on a lightly floured surface to 3-4mm thick then use templates to cut out pieces.  You will have to roll and re-roll the gingerbread several times.  Place pieces on baking paper and then on baking trays.  Cut out a front door from one of the end walls – don’t throw it away.  Bake door with other pieces.  Cut out windows in side walls.

Use left over gingerbread to make extra shapes like Christmas trees for the front yard.

Bake pieces for 8-12 minutes depending on the size of the pieces.  You want the edges to be going darker.  Gingerbread will harden as it cools.  Allow to cool on trays then transfer to a wire rack.

Sparkly silver cachous line the top of the roof and have been used to decorate the house

Sparkly silver cachous line the top of the roof and have been used to decorate the house

For the Royal Icing:

Lightly whisk egg whites in a large bowl, gradually add icing sugar and mix until smooth and holds a soft peak.  Spoon royal icing into piping bags fitted with desired nozzles and decorate as desired.  Allow to dry – about 60 minutes.  Royal icing will set rock hard.

There are snow flakes on the walls and a wreath above the door

There are snow flakes on the roof and a wreath above the door

To Assemble the House:

Get a large and sturdy cake board.  Spread some of the icing along the base and sides of one of the wall pieces with a palette knife.  Place on board and use tumblers to stabilise the piece into position.  Join more pieces to complete the walls then pipe around the base to give further support to the structure.  Affix the front door.  Allow to set.  I allowed an hour.

Fill house with lollies.  I used lollies that are light in weight like soft jellies and I only half-filled the house – the more weight, the more pressure on the structure!  

Now that all the walls are built and have set, spread icing over top edges of house then carefully secure roof sections.  Help the structure by piping icing anywhere there is a gap to increase stability and strength.  I decorated the top of the roof with silver cachous.

Add icicles.  Pipe onto the edge of the roof and allow to slip down.

Spread icing around the house to look like snow.

Stand decorated trees in the snow and pile some icing behind them to help the trees stand up.

Allow to harden then dust with icing sugar to give a look of newly fallen snow.

I've piled icing around the base of the tree to help it say vertical

I’ve piled icing around the base of the tree to help it say vertical

 

There are snow flakes on the walls and a wreath above the door

There are snow flakes on the walls and a wreath above the door

This recipe has been adapted from Gourmet Traveller, December 2011 issue.

Ready for Christmas Day

Ready for Christmas Day

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Comments

  1. Your gingerbread house is a lovely accomplishment. A great decoration for the holiday which can be demolished and devoured afterwards. :)

  2. This is amazing! So beautiful!! Good job, Charlie!! xo

  3. Great job Charlie!! I remember your house last year :) This one is a beauty and I absolutely love all the little sparkly touches.

  4. Wow, you have some patience, lady! I am now inspired.

  5. WOW, it turned out beautiful! Great job! I agree, you just can’t rush gingerbread houses! I never seem to find the time to make my own, one year I will do it!

  6. It is absolutely adorable!! :-) What a good idea to decorate each piece beforehand. That would save so much trouble. :-)

  7. That is just gorgeous. I love the lacy effect on the roof. Good on you for learning from last time and getting it SO right this time! Decorating the pieces while they are flat makes such good sense. I can imagine how good it smells as well as looks.

  8. This is so cute! every year I say I’m going to make a gingerbread house and every year I fail! maybe next year! I love the idea of icing them first that sounds a lot less stressful!

  9. Simply stunning. Even though I love gingerbread I might just want to stare at this wonder and not spoil it by eating it. Well, maybe a tree or two!

  10. This more than makes up for last year Charlie! What a gorgeous house – you have done an amazing job. How will you bring yourself to eat it?!

  11. Awww, this is gorgeous, Charlie! Wow, are you clever or what? I don’t know if I have the patience for something like this. I will try and see how I go. I hope it doesn’t implode. :)

  12. your house looks gorgeous and very elegant – I was looking at your past gingerbread houses and took heart from the collapse (my sister told me she had a house collapse once just as she showed her husband and the timing was hilarious – though probably more in hindsight). I keep hoping I might make a gingerbread house before christmas but will just see if I can.

    • Hi Charlie – just wanted to say I made my gingerbread house following your recipe mostly and it worked wonderfully – thanks for the inspiration and for the clear instructions. Have posted about it on my blog – only a few minor nervous breakdowns :-)

  13. This looks fabulous, Charlie. But I would not have the patience to create something like this work of art.

  14. WOW! What a house! Quite the project! Awesome job!

  15. Sweet Posy Dreams says:

    Absolutely wonderful! Too pretty to eat.

  16. You dazzle us again, Charlie. I am in awe of your talent and your patience. I want you for my Mom. Happy, healthy, love-filled holidays to you and your.

  17. I’m so impressed! Such a creative and fun project.

  18. Aw, your gingerbread house is adorable, Charlie!!! Great job! Love all the intricate icing piping and the sparkly decorations. So smart to ice the pieces before assembling…i’ll have to remember that for next year :)

  19. What a fantastic job you did! It’s so pretty. Great tip on decorating before assembling. XO

  20. We really need to bake a gingerbread house someday – something we haven’t done. Yours looks perfect! And love the tip on decorating before assembling – super idea. Thanks.

  21. You’ve done a great job. I’ve often thought about making a gingerbread house but never actually done it. I must give it a try. GG x

  22. Gorgeous indeed Charlie! Thanks for the decorating tip too, how sensible- which is why it never occurred to me! Our gingerbread house collapsed last year from the humidity weakening it :( With dry 37* predicted for the next few days I think it’s fine for another attempt :) X

  23. I can’t believe I’ve never thought to decorate the pieces before assembling it. That would make it so much easier!
    Wonderful house Charlie! Now I want to make another one!

  24. what an amazing ginger bread house! well done charlie :)

  25. G’day! I LOVE gingerbread and gingerbread houses Charlie, true!
    Your looks GREAT and brought back MANY childhood memories of too! Thank you!
    Cheers! Joanne

  26. I agree icing the gingerbread while it is still flat makes a huge world of difference doesn’t it! It looks very cute and I love the use of the silver cachous :)

  27. Oh my goodness your gingerbread house is adorable! Love it!

  28. So pretty! The closest I have come to making one is buying the Ikea one you have to assemble and decorate, and that was hard enough! ;o)

  29. Brilliant! I love how ‘adult’ this looks, like an actual house I’d live in! Just gorgeous

  30. WOW – this is a beautiful gingerbread house!
    I have always bought the premade molds from the stores, but next year I am gonna try your recipe/method – thank you Charlie!

  31. So lovely dear Charlie. Thank you. Last year I bought a gingerbread house from Ikea but almost broken… Have a nice Christmas, love, nia

  32. Wow what a project, I’m so impressed!

  33. Gingerbread houses are always a holiday favorite. I’m so impressed by this beautiful house, impressive!

  34. What a difference a year makes! You certainly did profit from your mistakes, Charlie. This gingerbread house looks fantastic! It looks so impressive in your final photo. Very nicely done.

  35. What a splendid job you did! I am so glad there were no disasters this time. That was a great tip to decorate the pieces before assembly.

  36. You’re braver than me… I never attempted one of these. I wouldn’t mind making one one year… perhaps next Christmas! You can buy them ready made in flat-packs at IKEA (flat-packs, naturally, haha!) but whenever I look at them every single one has a cracked piece in the box :p.

    You did a fantastic job Charlie – very pro!

  37. Oh, my gosh, Charlie, your gingerbread house is beautiful! I used to make these for friends, but mine were much more amateur looking. I wish I had a steadier hand as I’d love to make one even half as pretty as yours. Maybe next year.

  38. You’ve inspired me to make my first ever gingerbread house Charlie! The walls are up, the gingerbread is hard, and (despite being somewhat desperate to just put the whole thing together) just to be super extra careful, I’m leaving the walls to dry overnight before attempting to add the roof. My piping is nowhere near as delicate and gorgeous as yours though… :)

    • I’m so thrilled, Jas. I bet your decorating skills are better than you think they are! I do hope you post images of your finished results as I’d love to see it. Merry Christmas! xx

  39. This is just gorgeous! The kids and I tried to make some houses this year. They turned out…well, okay. We bought one of those assemble yourself kits and it’s just not as easy as they make it look. It’s probably easier to make your won. Miss A loves your house though – said it was very pretty. :)

  40. Mistakes are part of learning and clearly this year you put that into action. This GB house looks fantastic. Very impressive.
    Thanks for all your visits to Desire Empire this year. Have a fabulous Christmas and New Year in 2014.
    Carolyn

  41. You’re so talented! And I love the small details like the silver balls…makes it extra fancy and pretty! My kids enjoyed making gingerbread house, but you know, it’s not homemade kind… :) They really enjoyed making one this year (as they are more capable than last year). Your gingerbread house is simply beautiful!!

  42. i have always wanted to attempt a gingerbread house but i just dont have the time (or skill and patience)!

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