A special treat for the family during the Christmas holiday period is to make your own gingerbread house. It is simple to make, however, assembly will need to be done in stages to allow the icing to set properly.
“All the little ones love the gingerbread, especially with lots of colours and patterns.” – Vincent Gadan and Michelle Guberina.
WHAT YOU NEED
Gingerbread dough (makes 1.3kg)
200g unsalted butter, softened
160g brown sugar
600g all-purpose/plain flour
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
8g baking soda/bicarbonate of soda
8g all spice
30g ground ginger
2 quantities gingerbread dough
500g mixed lollies, jellies and chocolate to
10g gelatine leaves
90g egg whites (about 3 eggs)
500g pure confectioners’/icing sugar
WHAT TO DO
Make the gingerbread dough
1. Place the softened butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until the mixture starts to lighten in colour;
2. Add the flour, egg, egg yolk, molasses, honey, baking soda, all spice and ground ginger and mix until a dough has formed (for about two minutes);
3. Remove dough from the bowl, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and make it flat so it cools quicker; and
4. Let it rest and set in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
Prepare the gingerbread dough
1. Using a rolling pin, roll the gingerbread dough in to a 5mm thickness then cut into pieces as per the gingerbread chart;
2. Place the dough pieces onto a baking tray lined with baking paper; and
3. Preheat the oven to 300°C and bake for 20 minutes to allow the dough to dry out. The drier the biscuit, the longer the house will stay standing. The baked dough should last for two weeks at room temperature.
Prepare the royal icing
1. Only make the royal icing when the house is ready to be assembled;
2. Place the gelatine leaves in cold water to soften, making sure the leaves are completely submerged. When softened, slightly squeeze out the water and place the gelatine in a small saucepan over a low heat; gently stir until the leaves dissolve into a liquid;
3. Place the egg white and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer with whisk attachment and slowly beat for one minute. Then add the melted gelatine on a slow speed for one minute and then on full speed for three minutes. The mixture will become soft enough to pipe and will eventually air dry to cement the house together;
4. Put the royal icing into a piping bag with nozzle number 801 and use the icing as you would use glue; and
5. Use the royal icing straightaway or it will become too hard.
Assemble the gingerbread house
For the walls: Using the royal icing, stick the edge of one wall of the house to the edge of another wall – place against a stable prop as it will take some time to set. Repeat with the remaining walls. Leave the walls to set for at least two hours before placing on the roof.
To attach the roof, pipe the royal icing onto the top of the apex and along the top of the rim of the two sides. Attach one roof slat at a time, making sure the top edges line up with the tip of each apex. Repeat to attach the second roof slat in the same manner. If the royal icing is made correctly, the slats will not fall off. If they do, you will need to prop the roof up to hold it, or alternatively hold it in place with your hands, for a few minutes until it begins to set. Ideally, leave the assembled house to set for two hours before decorating.
To finish and decorate: Attach the front door and chimney. Be creative with decorating, using the mixed lollies, jellies and chocolate. Use the royal icing to ensure they will stick properly.