In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and baking soda together until the mixture is smooth. Blend in the flour and water to make a stiff dough. Chill at least 30 minutes or until firm.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut paper patterns for the gingerbread house:
Two rectangles (figs. A and B), 3 by 5 inches, to make the front and back of the house. Two rectangles (figs. C and D), 3 by 5 1/2 inches for the roof. Two pieces for the ends of the house (figs. E and F), 3 inches wide at the base, 3 inches to the roof line, and slanted to a peak 5 1/2 inches from the bottom. Four smaller rectangles (figs. G, H, I, and J), 1 1/2 by 1 inch for the roof and sides of the entryway. And one piece (fig. K), 2 inches wide at the base, 1 1/2 inches to the roof line, and slanted to a peak 2 1/2 inches from the bottom for the front of the entryway.
Roll gingerbread dough out to edges on a large, rimless cookie sheet. Place paper patterns onto the rolled out dough. With a sharp, straight edged knife, cut around each of the pieces, but leave pieces in place.
Bake at 375 degrees F for about 15 minutes until dough feels firm.
Place patterns on top of the gingerbread again and trim shapes, cutting edges with a straight-edged sharp knife. Leave to cool on baking sheet.
Place royal icing into pastry bag with a writing tip and press out to decorate individual parts of house, piping on decorations, windows, door, etc., as desired. Let dry until hardened.
Glue sides, front and back of house together at corners using royal icing. Place an object against the pieces to prop up until icing is dry (it only takes a few minutes).
Glue the two roof pieces to the pitched roofline of the house. Then, similarly, glue the sides and roof of the entryway together with icing. Attach the entryway to the front of the house.
Continue decorating the house, glueing on gumdrops, licorice and peppermint, as desired.
Combine flours, ginger, cinnamon, sugar and butter in a food processor. Process until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Whisk golden syrup and eggs together in a jug. With the motor running, add egg mixture and process until dough just comes together. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently until smooth. Cut dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until well chilled.
Roll dough, 1 portion at a time, between 2 sheets baking paper until 5mm thick. Remove top layer baking paper. Using cardboard cut-outs as a guide, cut shapes from dough (see tip). Place gingerbread in a single layer on trays. Freeze for 15 minutes or until firm.
Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 4 baking trays with baking paper. Place gingerbread on trays. Bake, 2 trays at a time, for 15 minutes or until firm. Cool on trays.
Make royal icing: Using an electric mixer, beat eggwhites until soft peaks form. Gradually add icing sugar, beating constantly until thick.
Use icing to join walls together, placing unopened cans of food to support walls until icing dries. Use icing to attach roof to walls, using cans to support roof (to prevent it fom slipping off walls) until icing dries completely.
Spoon 1/2 cup remaining icing into a snap-lock bag. Trim 1 corner of bag and pipe windows and doors on house and frost on roof edges. Allow to dry. Spoon remaining icing into snap-lock bag. Pipe a little icing on the back of each lolly and attach to house to decorate. Dust roof with icing sugar.
Baking the Gingerbread
- 1 1/4 cups packed dark-brown sugar - 3/4 cup unsulfured molasses - 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter - 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon - 1 tablespoon ground ginger - 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt - 1 1/4 cups milk - 1 tablespoon baking powder - 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Combine brown sugar, molasses, butter, spices, and salt in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved, about 10 minutes. Stir in the milk and remove the mixture from the heat.
- 2 cup of powdered sugar, sifted - 1 large egg white
Beat the egg whites in a bowl until foamy. Add in the sugar and continue to beat until white and glossy.
To decorate your gingerbread, scoop the icing into a pastry bag with a small tip or a large ziplock bag. If using a ziplock bag, push all the icing to one corner and snip the corner at a diagonal creating a very small hole.
Start decorating by creating fish-scale U’s on the two roofs. Trace the edges of the windows and doors with icing and add whatever additional details you’d like. We’ve added dots in addition to the lines, but this is the fun part of gingerbread houses, so use your imagination!
The icing should dry very hard and wait until it has completely dried before assembling the house.
The caramel acts as the glue that holds your house together. When you are ready to assemble the house, start making the caramel. Because this cools quickly and hardens you can’t make this ahead of time.
- 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar - a small squeeze of lemon juice
Put the sugar in a saucepan and cook over high heat, stir the mixture until it starts caramelize and turn a deep amber about 10 minutes. Remove off the heat and begin to use immediately.
Assembling the Gingerbread House
Dip each adjoining side of the walls of the house in caramel and hold together for a few seconds. The caramel will harden holding the pieces together. Once all 4 walls are held together. you can attach the roof by using a spoon or small brush to trace the V-shape and attach the roof pieces.
Assemble the chimney together and brush the bottom with caramel and attach to one side of the roof.
Now that your house is assembled you can put on the finishing touches that truly transforms this gingerbread house into a winter wonderland. On a nice serving tray that you will be using to display the house, sift a thin layer of powdered sugar to cover so it looks like a pristine layer of fresh snow. Place the house on top of this layer. Add a few pine cones for trees and a couple of cinnamon sticks for wood logs. Dust another fine layer of powdered sugar over everything.
To make the icicles, carefully and lightly squeeze a small drip of icing holding the tip close to the roof. As you get it to your desired length, brush the tip onto the edge of the roof and the icing will stick to and hang from the roof.
Use a q-tip or your pinky finger to make little footprint imprints in the “snow.” Add whatever other touches you’d like and you have a beautiful and charming masterpiece!
Here's a great cookie to pair with your next peppermint mocha! This is from Cookie Craft Christmas, which we reviewed earlier today. We really like this easy recipe for gingerbread houses; it's a lot more accessible (and eat-able) than all those more constructed and fancy gingerbread houses.
Peppermint Gingerbread HouseFrom Cookie Craft Christmas by Valerie Peterson and Janice Fryer, published by Storey Publishing
Gingerbread has been a European holiday staple for centuries. Gingerbread houses became popular there and in America after the Brothers Grimm published their story “Hansel and Gretel.”
Cookies and Icinggingerbread cookie doughpiping icing: white (Use this Royale Icing
Equipment and Embellishmentshouse cutter (or use this template or this template from Martha Stewart. Or use ours!)small rectangle cutter or paring knifeyellow hard candies, crushedpeppermint candies, crushed and wholeoblong silver dragées
Techniquesmaking windowpanes (page 13/see below)piping (page 22/see below)attaching candy add-ons (page 25/see below)
1. Prepare, roll, and chill cookie dough according to recipe and rolling instructions.
2. Cut out house shapes. Cut out windows with a cookie cutter. Fill the windows with crushed yellow candies. Bake and cool according to windowpane instructions.
3. Pipe the roofline and chimney, filling in the chimney completely. While wet, sprinkle with crushed peppermint candy; allow to set. Gently shake off excess candy.
4. With piping icing, affix whole peppermint candies and pipe dot detail around candies. Pipe detail around windowpanes and on the gable peak. Affix dragées.
Making windowpanes:Add crushed candies to your cutouts and you’ll have windowpanes, which give your Christmas cookies a beautiful, see-through stained-glass effect. To crush hard candies, place them in a double-layer ziplock bag and smash them with a hammer until they’re powdery or in tiny shards. Completely fill the holes in the cookie dough with candy. Bake the cookies according to recipe instructions; the candy will melt to create windowpanes. Cool the cookies completely on the cookie sheet before removing to allow the melted candy to harden.
Piping:Piping is the technique you will use most often, either to outline cookies to be flooded or to add embellishments. When piping, hold your pastry bag at a 45-degree angle above the surface of the cookie; you do not want to drag the tip. Use the heel of your palm to apply pressure to squeeze out the icing and the other hand to steady and guide the tip. If you’re making dots, hold the bag straight up and down. Varying the pressure on the pastry bag will vary the thickness of the piping.
Attaching candy add-ons:Small candies or dragées stick readily to wet flood. Use tweezers if you want precise control over the placement. To attach add-ons to dry flood, use a dab of piping icing to affix.
Sift the flour, ground ginger, bicarbonate of soda, and cinnamon into a large bowl. Add the melted butter-sugar mixture and mix together. Knead the mixture for a few seconds until it comes together, adding a teaspoon or so of water if necessary, but without allowing it to get too wet. Flatten the dough slightly into a round, about 3/4-inch/2cm thick, wrap with cling film/plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
To make the gingerbread boys and girls: Remove the dough from the refrigerator, dust the work surface with flour and roll all of the dough out to about 1/4-inch/5 mm thick. Cut out the girl and boy shapes using boy/girl cutters, transfer onto the baking trays and cook in the oven for 12 minutes, until they are slightly firm, a little darker at the edges and slightly drier on top. Allow the shapes to firm up for a few minutes, then place them on a wire rack to cool. When they have cooled, they can be iced, if you wish.
To make the icing: Sift the icing sugar (confectioners') into a bowl and add the water. Beat until the icing comes together, adding a little more water, if necessary. Cook's Note: Be careful not to add too much water or the icing will be too runny.
Using a small palette knife or the back of a spoon dipped into boiling water (to make the icing easier to spread), spread the icing over the cooled gingerbread boys and girls. If you wish to pipe on the details, such as faces and hair, spoon the icing into a small piping bag with just the smallest corner cut off. While the icing is still slightly 'unset' on the biscuits, arrange the silver balls or whatever decorations you are using, then set aside for the icing to set.
To make the gingerbread house: First make templates in paper to the measurements/dimensions given below. These are handy not just for now, but for when the dough is cooked and you need to trim the walls and roof, to ensure all the edges are straight.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on the work surface, dust with flour and roll out about 1/4 of the dough to 1/4-inch/5 mm thick. Place one of the paper templates on the dough and cut round with a sharp knife, then slide the dough, still on its parchment paper, onto a baking tray. Repeat with the remaining dough, re-rolling the trimmings, until you have a front and back wall, 2 side walls and 2 roof panels. Re-roll any leftover dough to make into Christmas trees or boys and girls - there should be enough for 6 to 8. Carefully trim the excess paper from around each piece on the baking trays.
Bake all the sections in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until slightly firmed and just a little darker at the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for a few minutes on the baking trays to firm up. One by one, lift the pieces, still on the paper, and trim around the template to give clean, sharp edges. To make an open door for the house, cut one out of the front wall and cut out windows, if you wish. Place on a wire rack for a few minutes, then turn over and peel off the trimmed paper. Leave all the pieces to cool completely.
Meanwhile, prepare a board for the house to sit on. I like to use a large wooden chopping board, which can be covered with tin foil, if you choose.
To make the icing 'glue' for the house: Place the egg whites in a large bowl, sift in the icing sugar, then stir to make a thick, smooth icing. Spoon into a piping bag with a small, star-shaped nozzle.To assemble the house: Pipe generous lengths of icing along the vertical wall edges, one by one, to join the walls together. Using a bowl or some other object or objects to support the walls from the inside, hold the walls gently in place with your hands until the icing is dry. Leave the roofless house to dry for at least 30 minutes until the icing is firmly set.
Once dry, remove the supports and pipe a thick line of icing along 1 long side of a roof piece and along the top edge of all the walls. Stick the 2 roof sections together at an angle and set the 2 pieces on top of the house. You can arrange the roof so that there is a slight overhang on either side of the house. Hold the roof gently in place for a few minutes until it dries, then leave it to dry for a further 30 minutes.
While the roof is drying, attach the door to the doorway - so that it looks slightly ajar - by running a line of icing glue down 1 side and along the base. Stick a small piece of a Flake bar onto the roof as a chimney.
Using the icing as glue, pipe around the windows, and stick sweets around the door and on the front of the house. To make snow on the roof and icicles hanging from it, start with the nozzle at a 90-degree angle to the roof and squeeze out a pea-size blob of icing. Keeping the pressure on, pull the nozzle down and then pull away, leaving a pointy trail of icing. Repeat all around the edge of the roof.
Using the icing as glue, stick milk chocolate and sugared buttons onto the roof for the tiles. Glue the gingerbread trees or boys and girls around the house, then scatter the board with sugar strands.
Cook's Note: Rachel's Baking TipThe gingerbread house will stay fresh for a week, although, after all the work putting it together and icing it, the temptation is to keep it for the few weeks over Christmas, by which time it will be quite stale and not so good to eat!
Dimensions:Front and back: 2 (5 by 7-inches/12.7 by 17.7 cm)Roof: 2 (3 by 7-inches/7.6 by 17.7 cm)Sides: 2 (5 by 6-inches/12.7 by 15.2 cm)
Note: don’t try to make a double batch – it is a very stiff dough, hard to work in larger volume.
Note: Use icing immediately – it hardens with exposure to air. Other kinds of icing can be used for cookies – this icing works to hold a house together as it hardens over time.