So, ask yourself this… would you rather buy a beautiful store-made gingerbread house that looks amazing to display and might or might not taste good, or would you rather make a lop-sided, ill-fitting, drippy, absolutely delicious, homemade gingerbread home that doesn’t look perfect, but has your daughter’s name written on the roof and has a lot of love and laughter (and some tears) put into it?
The second option, of course. Yes, right answer! A house is not a home 🙂 We made gingerbread homes; warm, welcoming, and lived in. And it was well worth it.
First of all, the taste. This is actually the lesser important aspect of it, but it counts. Homemade is so tasty and fresh, and this recipe is really really good, especially the royal icing recipe below, that has a secret ingredient to make it zing rather than lay flat like a plain old sugar lump.
Next, and this is the more important part, it’s fun to make! I won’t pretend to say it’s easy. It’s not! But it’s fun! And everyone really gets into it, even my 18 year-old son! So this year, go for it. And if it falls apart, like one of our homes did, who cares?! You can still eat it anyway and it tastes just as good. You just have very large really pretty gum drop cookies that resemble the walls and roof of a gingerbread house!
The gingerbread cookie recipe is from BBC goodfood. The royal icing is different and this one tastes yummier.
- 250g (1 cup + 2 Tbsp) butter
- 200g (1 cup) brown sugar
- 7 Tbsp golden syrup
- 600g (4 1/2 cups) plain flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 4 tsp ground ginger
- 2 egg whites
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 5 cups powdered sugar
- For the gingerbread: Heat oven to 200°C/400°F. Melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan. Mix the flour, baking soda, and ground ginger in a large bowl, then stir in the butter mixture to make a stiff dough. If it won’t quite come together, add a tiny splash of water.
- Print three copies of the template and cut out the shapes (link in ingredients list). Put a sheet of baking paper on your work surface and roll about one quarter of the dough to the thickness of about 3mm. Cut out one of the sections, then slide the gingerbread, still on its baking paper, onto a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, re-rolling the trimmings, until you have two side walls, a front and back wall and two roof panels. Any leftover dough can be cut into shapes for cookies.
- Bake all the sections for 12 mins or until just a little darker at the edges. Leave to cool for a few minutes to firm up, then trim around the templates again to give clean, sharp edges. I’m going to stress the importance of this step. Use the templates again to make sure the shapes are perfect. The more attention you give to this, the easier it will be later to get the house to fit together. Trust me. I learned the hard way 🙂 After trimming, leave the cookies to cool completely.
- For the Icing: Put the egg whites in a large bowl, sift in the icing sugar, and add the lemon juice. Stir to make a thick, smooth icing. The consistency should be such that when you lift the icing with a spoon, the ribbon of icing that falls back into the bowl should remain on the surface for 10 seconds or so before disappearing. Pipe generous amounts of icing along the wall edges, one by one, to join the walls together. Use a small bowl or glass to support the walls from the inside and allow to dry for a few hours. Seriously, be patient. Let it dry. I’m speaking again from experience here.
- Once dry, remove the supports and fix the roof panels on. The angle is steep so you will need to hold these on firmly for a few minutes until the icing starts to dry and then prop it with a bowl. Dry completely for another few hours or overnight. To decorate, use whatever you like, but be sure it’s edible! Gumdrops, m&m’s, chocolate discs, gummy bears, anything pretty and sweet!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS xx
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