My kids have been absolutely dying to make a gingerbread house. I can’t say that this activity has been top of my list because it always looked like such a difficult and fiddly thing too do combined with way too much sugar. However it’s Christmas, and what is Christmas without a bit of sugar and home-baking? So this week I caved and the girls and I made some adorable gingerbread houses together.
All of the recipes I could find had huge houses, but miss R requested to make small houses so we could create one each which I thought was a fabulous idea so I’ve put together a template and instructions for some kid-sized gingerbread houses. These houses are as fiddly as I feared they would be, but they are actually very easy to make – so easy that my 7 and 8 year olds could make them mostly on their own. Here is how we made them.
You will need:
• Basic gingerbread dough (recipe below). One batch will make 2 small houses – we made two batches which was enough for 5 houses and a few cookies with the leftover dough.
• Royal Icing (recipe below). We needed two batches of icing for our 5 houses.
• This template
• Heavy recycled card stock and foil for base
• Non-stick baking paper
• piping bag with 5mm round nozzle (one per child makes it easy)
• Assorted lollies (candy) to decorate
• Dessicated coconut for snow
- 125g butter at room temp
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup treacle
- 1 tsp bicarb soda
- 1 egg yolk at room temp
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1/2 cup self raising flour
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Beat butter until soft with an electric mixer. Add sugar and egg yolk and continue mixing until pale and creamy. Switch to a dough mixing attachment if you have one and mix in the flour (if not stir it in). Add the bicarb soda, ground ginger, mixed spice and cinnamon. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
- 2 egg whites (or use powdered egg whites if you prefer for a safer option)
- 3 cups pure icing sugar
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Beat egg whites in an electric mixer until frothy but not peaky. Add the icing sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until combined. Add lemon juice. Place into piping bags ready to use.
Bake the gingerbread
1) Pre-heat oven to 180ºc/160ºc fan-forced
2) Roll the dough out directly over a piece of non-stick baking paper until it is approximately 5mm thick. If your dough starts sticking to the rolling pin place a sheet of non-stick baking paper over the top of the dough and roll it that way.
2) Cut the house template shapes out of non-stick baking paper and trace around them over the dough with a butter knife.
3) Peel the dough away from the edges of your gingerbread house shapes and transfer the sheet of baking paper they are on directly to a biscuit tray without trying to move the shapes (they will get warped if you try to move them with your fingers which we discovered the hard way)
4) Bake for 10 minutes
5) Working quickly, trim the edges of your dough with a sharp knife so that the edges are all completely straight (an adult needs to do this part). The gingerbread will harden quickly, leave it on the tray until it is firm before transferring to a cooling rack or plate.
Icing and decorating
1) Use the base template to cut a square shape from heavy recycled card stock and cover it with foil to use as a base.
2) Apply icing directly to the base and sides of the house shapes and stick them together to form a house. It is a good idea to get your kids to watch you sticking one together before they try it themselves. It’s also a good idea to pipe on a door before you prop the front wall up because it’s easier that way.
3) Once your house is fully formed leave it to set (approx 30 minutes) before adding the rest of the decorations
4) Set out lollies and coconut and decorate however you like – this is such a fun project for young and old alike!
I’m so proud of our gingerbread house-making efforts! What a special experience to share and the girls will no doubt have lots of fun eating this over the next couple of days, although I myself am completely all sugared out after just the taste-testing while making them.
We plan on consuming our houses fairly quickly (we will be giving some away as gifts too) because we have used raw egg whites in the icing and I am worried that it’s not safe to store for a long time before eating, plus gingerbread is always better fresh anyway. If you want to keep your house as a decoration and eat it later I’d suggest using egg white powder instead to give yourself piece of mind (we didn’t have any on hand) and wrap in clear cello wrap or cling wrap to keep it fresh.
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