7th December 2022
by Emma Lough
I asked my most accomplished friend, Emma Lough, to give me a few tips on how to make a ginger bread house. She, as ever, did an excellent job and came back with the below!
One of the most flexible Christmas edibles. First, pick a design. There are all sorts of options online that you can copy or print out, or you can create your own. (Pics 1, 2, 3)
The BBC Good Food recipe for gingerbread seems to do the trick. It seems fairly forgiving if (like me) you have a tendency not to measure proportions accurately and need to trim the edges once it's cooked (similarly easy fresh out of the oven and once cooled).
250g unsalted butter
200g dark muscovado sugar
7 tbsp golden syrup
600g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 tsp ground ginger
Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Melt the butter, sugar, and syrup in a pan. Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger into a large bowl, then stir in the butter mixture to make a stiff dough. If it doesn’t come completely together, add a splash of water.
Lay out a sheet of baking paper on a work surface and roll the dough to the thickness of two £1 coins. Cut out your template and bake. If you want to make windows, cut these into the pre-cooked design but don't remove the biscuit dough until after cooking. It helps to keep the shape when the biscuit dough expands in the oven.
Bake all the sections for 12 mins or until firm and just a little darker at the edges.
Once cooked, remove the windows, and replace with boiled sweets, which melt down in the oven to give a glass effect. These can go in the same temperature as the gingerbread and should take about 5 minutes. By the looks of things, there are lots of ways to experiment, crushing the sweets to create your own patterns or cutting out different shape windows to fill. (Pics 4, 5, 6)
The two main 'glue' options seem to be royal icing (again BBC Good Food has it covered) or melting down sugar for more of a super-glue. The royal icing doubles up as decoration with a piping bag (water it down a bit to get the right consistency) or as glue for anything you want to stick on the outside of the house. (Pics 7, 8, 9)
Royal Icing Recipe
3 egg whites
600g icing sugar
1 tsp liquid glucose (though it seems to survive just fine without)
1 tsp lemon juice
Whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk until starting to firm. Add the icing sugar a few tablespoons at a time and continue to whisk until incorporated. Add the glucose and lemon juice and continue to whisk until it forms stiff peaks.
I recommend using melted sugar if (like me) you drop and smash it on the floor at any point. Otherwise, best to take the melted sugar route if the gingerbread pieces are small enough to dip directly into the pan or use a brush to apply. I didn't do either of those, heaps of fun. (Pics 10, 11, 12)
If you're using royal icing, it's worth setting up some sort of wedges for it to rest while the icing dries. Once it's dried, it's fairly sturdy. (Pics 14, 15)
I used the rest of the royal icing to make snowy Christmas trees with ice cream cones, but the internet is your oyster for decorating ideas.