Walking in a gingerbread wonderland…
You know it’s Christmas when everything starts taking gingerbread form – houses, people, lattes… and there’s no wonder when it’s so delicious. A true taste of Christmas, we can’t get enough of the stuff, and we know you can’t either, so we’ve filled our range with lots of fab gingerbread cutters for easy DIY gingerbread houses, as well as pre-baked kits so you can have fun decorating without the baking.
Time for some DIY
Fancy taking on a project? Why not have a go at making your own gingerbread house from scratch? We’ve got everything you need, from inspiration to kit, right here. Of course, the foundation to any gingerbread house (pun intended) is a great recipe, so we asked our good friend and baking expert Sue Ashworth to let us in on her secret to making the best gingerbread, ready for you to cut, assemble and decorate into an edible masterpiece.
Gingerbread House Masterclass with Sue Ashworth
Recipes and food styling: Sue Ashworth
Photography: Jonathan Short
- Makes approximately 1 house
- 200g dark muscovado sugar
- 250g butter
- 7 tbsp (150g) golden syrup
- 650g plain flour, plus extra for sprinkling
- 5 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- Several sheets of baking paper
- Put the sugar into a large saucepan. Cut the butter into pieces and add to the pan. Pour in the syrup. If you prefer, put the pan onto digital scales, zero them, and weigh in the syrup to exactly the correct amount. Heat gently to melt slowly, stirring occasionally. Do not allow the mixture to boil.
- Sift the plain flour, ground ginger and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl, stirring to mix thoroughly. Pour in the melted mixture and stir together with a wooden spoon to make a stiff dough, using your hands to bring the mixture together. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C/Gas Mark 6.
- Put a sheet of baking paper onto a work surface and sprinkle it with a little flour. Take about a quarter of the dough and press it out with your fingertips until it’s quite flat (this is easier than rolling, as it helps prevent it from cracking). Now take a lightly floured rolling pin and carefully roll out until about 0.5cm thick.
- Cut out the first shape for your gingerbread house using a cutter. Remove the cutter, then slide the section, still on the baking paper, onto a baking sheet. Continue to roll out more of the dough, re-using the trimmings, until you have cut all the parts you need to assemble your house.
- Bake for 11-12 minutes (in batches if needed), until firm and a little darker around the edges. Leave to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Construct the house: pipe icing thickly onto a cake board where each panel will stand. Put the first panel in place. Pipe icing thickly along the wall edge, fix on the gable end, using a butter dish or bowl to support the pieces until 3 pieces are fixed. Remove the support and fix on the front gable end. Leave for 20 minutes, then fix on the roof panels. Leave overnight to dry. Decorate with sweets, fixing in place with icing.
Q What’s the best way to decorate the house?
A It’s best if the some of the decoration is completed before you put the panels together. Fix on the window frames and roof tiles first – then fix on smaller decorations, like the sweets, when the house is constructed.
Q How do I stop myself from getting in a muddle?
A Allow plenty of time to make the house, or make in several stages. Keep tidy! Put small sweets into bun cases to keep them sorted while decorating.
Q How long can I keep the house?
A I suggest making it 5-7 days before Christmas, though it will remain edible for about 2 weeks.
5 golden rules for gingerbread house success
- Be patient and allow plenty of time. This is not to be rushed. Create over 2-3 days if that suits you.
- Measure the ingredients accurately for failsafe results. This ensures that the gingerbread bakes without expanding.
- Roll out and cut out each piece on baking paper – then slide onto baking trays. If necessary, trim the baked pieces with a sharp knife to give straight edges.
- Get a helping hand when constructing the house. Make sure the icing ‘cement’ is thick enough, and hold the walls together for 2-3 minutes to set, before adding the roof.
- Decorate as you wish – that’s the fun part
The right tools for the job
Right, you have your gingerbread dough, you’ve read our tips and now you’re ready to go into construction for yourself – but how do you find the right kit to make your gingerbread house? Luckily for you, we have lots of cutters that make gingerbread house building a doddle, whether you want to make a simple 2D biscuit or a 3D extravaganza.
If you fancy making something a little bit different this year, a gingerbread house cake is sure to impress. Simply make your favourite sponge cake and ice, cut out your gingerbread houses – any of our gingerbread house cutters will do, but we used the house cutter from the Gingerbread Man & House Cutter Set for this stunning cake – decorate the houses with a little piped icing, and dot around your cake. It’s so simple but looks spectacular! We also added a drip icing effect to ours, and popped some festive tree toppers on top too. You’ll find all the piping bags and other cake decorating essentials you’ll need on our website.
Build, decorate… demolish!
Like the thought of putting together a gingerbread masterpiece, but not the baking part? No worries, we’ve got lots of easy-to-use kits that’ll have you decorating everything from sweet-festooned gingerbread houses to simple Christmas tree biscuits.
Making a gingerbread house is a wonderful Christmas tradition, and our Traditional Gingerbread House Kit with its pre-baked gingerbread, icing and delicious sweets to decorate will certainly keep the kids entertained on Christmas Eve. And as we feel no one should be deprived of the joys of gingerbread – or house building – we made a Gluten-Free Gingerbread House Kit too.
Fancy something a bit different? Our Gingerbread Camper Van Kit offers a fun alternative, and makes a great gift for friends and family who love to travel.
If you’re looking for a really quick and easy afternoon activity with the kids, and don’t fancy taking on a building project, there’s Grandma Wild’s Gingerbread Tree Decorating Kit or the Decorate-Your-Own Gingerbread Man Kit, where you get everything you need to decorate the scrumptious gingerbread inside.
Whether you decide to make, build or simply decorate your gingerbread, we wish you a very merry (and delicious) Christmas!