Making a gingerbread house is just pure fun and best of all, you get to eat it afterwards
Honestly, I haven’t had so much fun in ages and I live a pretty good life!
The combo of sweets, a bit of creativity and some quality time with number one daughter required to make and decorate a gingerbread house is hard to beat.
I mail ordered this year’s gingerbread house kit from Gingerbread Folk because I have used their kit before and it worked well. The main things to look for in a kit are strong walls that won’t buckle during construction and gingerbread that tastes great – although you won’t know that until you eat it at the end.
How long will your gingerbread house last?
Well, that depends on how quickly you eat it!
The kit made it all very easy and I suspect making and baking the gingerbread must be harder than decorating it. The pieces fitted together really well and the kit also included royal icing and a piping bag to make it all happen.
You can make your house well ahead of eating it as a good one with stand up and hold its shape no matter the climatic conditions. This is because Royal Icing is primarily sugar (no fats) requires a temperature of about 150 degrees Celsius to melt. Not much chance of that happening.
While gingerbread is hygroscopic (it absorbs moisture or loses it depending upon the air around it), the shape of the house does not change or deform even in humid temperatures of Queensland due to the strong icing cementing it together.
Packaged gingerbread has nine months shelf life. It’s an all natural product but honey and ginger act as a natural preservative. Gingerbread does not suddenly ‘go off’. It will just become less spicy and dull tasting over time. It is best to wrap the house well in cellophane to protect from humidity and insects.
Decorating the gingerbread house with lollies
We really just let our imaginations go riot. Using jubes, bullets, liquorice allsorts, confectionery flowers and some piping gels from the cupboard, it all came together in a snip. I found some cute Christmas figures and a Santa in the cake decorating section at Woolworths and they just added the finishing touches.
Here’s a gingerbread recipe you could use for your own gingerbread house or for the gingerbread cookies.
Gingerbread for a gingerbread house
· 75 g soft brown sugar, sieved
· 2 tablespoons golden syrup
· 1 tablespoon black treacle
· 1 level teaspoon cinnamon
· 1 level teaspoon ginger
· 1 pinch ground cloves
· 95 g butter, cubed (and a small amount to grease the baking trays)
· ½ level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
· 225 g plain flour
Ingredients for decorating:
· 50 g Smarties (optional)
· 1 egg white
· 1 cup of sifted icing
· Selected food colourings (red and green are a great choice for Christmas!)
1. Pre heat the oven to 180 °C and grease two baking trays with butter.
2. Put the sugar, syrup, treacle, 1 tablespoon of water and spices in a large saucepan. Bring them to boiling point, stirring all the time.
3. Remove pan from the heat and stir in the butter and bicarbonate of soda.
4. Stir in the flour gradually until dough is smooth and manageable. Add a little more flour if you think it needs it.
5. Cover dough and leave in a cool place to become firm (approx. 30 minutes).
6. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to 3 mm thick.
7. Dip the Gingerbread cookie cutters into flour (to help prevent the dough sticking to the cutters) and press into the dough to produce your gingerbread family.
8. Place gingerbread cookies on trays (with a little space between each) and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the biscuits feel firm when lightly pressed. Be aware the smaller cookies may cook quicker.
9. Remove from oven, leaving biscuits on trays to cool for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.
Instructions for the decoration:
1. Place the egg white in a clean, dry bowl and beat until soft peaks form.
2. Gradually add icing sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
3. Divide icing into bowls for each colour you are using. Add a few drops of food colouring and mix, adding more if required for desired depth of colour.
4. Spoon the icing into the icing bags that come with the Wiltshire Gingerbread Family Cookie cutters (use a separate bag for each colour).
5. Snip the tip of the bag and pipe the icing onto the cooled biscuits.
6. A dab of icing under a Smartie will secure the family’s ‘buttons’!