The instructions are below. I've made my gingerbread house this week so that I could make these steps as detailed as possible. All you have to do is bake & make your house and you must must must send me photos and I will post them on the blog.
Happy gingerbreading & have fun!.
Step 1 - Baking the gingerbread
You can bake the gingerbread about 2 days in advance of making the house. In any event, you want the gingerbread to be completely cool when you construct the house. The recipe is based on this one.
For this step you will need:
3 1/2 cups of self raising flour
1 cup plain flour
1.5-2 tablespoons ground ginger
3 heaped teaspoons of cinnamon
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
185g butter, chopped
1/2 cup golden syrup
2 eggs, lightly beaten
a ruler, paper/cardboard/plastic sleeves for a template, scissors.
1. Combine the flours (plain & self raising), ginger, cinnamon, sugar & butter in a food processor or mix master (or you can do it with your hands) and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (or basically until there are no longer any big lumps of butter)..
2. In a separate bowl/jug whisk the golden syrup & egg together with a fork and then add to the flour mixture and mix well.
3. This will form a dough which you then need to turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough gently until it's smooth. Wrap this in cling wrap and chill it - either in the fridge for several hours, or if you're impatient like me stick it in the freezer for half an hour.
4. While you chill the dough you need to prepare your templates. I've inserted the ones I've used into this post and the measurements are written on the pictures. If you'd like a scanned copy in real-size, drop me an email (lexeat[at]gmail.com) and I'll email them to you. I cut out my templates using the plastic from plastic sleeves you use in folders (i.e. I borrowed them from my work), but you can use cardboard, or even just pieces of newspaper. You need to cut out a template for each shape - there are 3 templates..
5. Turn your oven to 180 degrees C. You will need a couple of oven trays lined with greaseproof paper.
6. You now need to roll out the dough. I roll out a large tennis ball amount of dough at a time, rather than trying to do it in one big go. On a floured surface, and using a rolling pin or a bottle, roll out the dough. You want it about 5mm thick - don't worry too much if it's thicker, as long as it's not really thick or too thin, you'll be fine (try and make the roof pieces slightly thinner than the walls, because you don't want too much weight bearing down on the walls). Lay the templates on top and cut out around each shape. You will need 2 cut outs of each template (i.e. 2 x side wall template, 2 x front/back wall, 2 x roof pieces). When you cut out the template, you can also cut out a window or door, or pattern on the edge of the roof pieces. Lay the pieces on the oven trays. Continue until you have 6 slabs of gingerbread. You should have leftover dough, so you can either make extra pieces, gingerbread people or biscuits. Alternatively roll the dough into a log and freeze - when you want biscuits in future just defrost and slice off the discs & bake.
7. Cook your gingerbread (in several batches) for 15-20 minutes until the dough is firm. You might need to cook for longer if it's a bit thicker. You want the end result to be fairly crisp but not brittle. Remember the dough will harden as it cools.
8. Leave the gingerbread to cool. Keep the gingerbread air tight (once cool) until you're ready to construct the house..
Step 2 - Constructing the house
What you'll need for this step:
a cake board - a 25-30cm (10-12 inch) square is a good size (I got mine from Party Party in Dalston, but have seen them in UK supermarkets. Any kitchen shop should also have them). Alternatively you can use a sturdy piece of card board or a chopping board and cover it in foil.
3 cups of Royal Icing OR 3 cups of pure icing sugar & 2 egg whites
cans or jars to help hold up the walls.
1. First make the icing - think of it as the glue to hold the whole thing together. You want it as strong as possible, so don't be afraid to add more icing sugar to make sure the icing is really thick. To make Royal icing you can either 1) buy the all in one Royal icing and make with water, as per the packet instructions (Royal icing comes with dried egg white already in it, which makes it so concrete like), or 2) beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, then gradually add icing sugar and keep beat until stiff peaks form. It's essential to make sure that, whichever method, you've got a really thick, icing..
2. Take your first wall and spread the icing along the bottom edge and the edges, then stick to the cake board where you want it to go. You can hold it in place with the jars & cans. Then continue to erect all four walls. Don't skimp with the icing - use as much as you like. Don't worry about gaps between the walls due to the walls not being entirely straight - just plug the gaps with more icing (you can see from mine that I'm more concerned with the whole thing staying together than making the icing look neat!).
3. Once all four walls are up, leave the house for 10-20 minutes for the walls to set a bit. Once you think they feel fairly firm (i.e. they won't fall down) remove the inside cans/jars. Next you need to slather icing around all the top edges of the walls, ready to attach the roof pieces. Carefully put the roof on and prop up with cans/jars. Check all the joins and spread the icing to make sure the roof is as secure as possible. It's best to now leave the house for an hour or so for the icing to set. At our gingerbread supper club we'll be breaking for lunch at this point, to give the house time to set..
Step 3 - Decorating your house
For this step you'll need:
The rest of your icing from Step 2. The amount of icing above should be enough for one person to erect & decorate the whole house.
All sorts of confectionery - smarties, bullets/chocolate fingers, buttons, marshmallows, ANYTHING you like really - go crazy! You can also use cake glitter or anything else you fancy. Take a look at our houses from last year here if you want some more ideas.
Cellophane (about 1.5-2m per house) & ribbon.
If you need to transport the house, you'll either need a large bag or box.
1. Now basically you just decorate your house using the icing and confectionery. For the roof I like to cover the whole thing in the icing and stick the sweets onto the roof, for other parts of the house I prefer to put a dollop of icing on each sweet and then stick each on individually - you can do whichever you like.
2. Remember you can use scissors to chop up sweets, so you can make flowers with marshmallows like I have, or slice up licorice all sorts, make leaves from green jellies, whatever you like.
3. Once you're done, lay out a large piece of cellophane and carefully place the gingerbread house on the cake board in the middle. Pull up the cellophane around the house and tie together. You will probably need sticky tape for the sides of the cellophane.
4. You're done! The gingerbread will set hard over night. You should eat it within 2 weeks of making it. Please transport it carefully!
5. Enjoy smashing your house and eating it with friends!
Remember to send me photos of your creation! Enjoy!!!