This house has become a Christmas tradition in our house. Yesterday I made it for the 3rd time, unfortunately I had to make most of it by myself (it took all day!). I have altered the recipe pretty much every year. You can decorate it anyway you want so long as the roof is not too heavy. Mum and I found that out the hard way the first year we made it.
Here is Mary Berry’s original recipe:
375g unsalted butter
300g dark muscovado sugar
150g golden syrup
900g plain flour
1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp ground ginger
For the icing
3 egg whites
675g icing sugar, sifted
3 tsp lemon juice
1 x 30cm square cake board
6 cocktail sticks
200g giant milk chocolate buttons
15 yellow or orange boiled sweets
2 night-light candles
1 Heat the oven to 200C / fan 180C / gas 6. Melt the butter, sugar and syrup together in a large pan. Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger together in a large bowl and make a well. Pour in the melted butter mixture, stir it in and when cool enough to handle, knead to a stiff dough.
2 Divide the mixture into 5 pieces, cut one of these pieces in half (so you have 6 pieces in total) and roll each piece out on a sheet of greaseproof paper to ¾cm thick. Using the templates, cut out each section and slide onto 3 baking sheets. Using the template as a guide, a ruler and the rim of a cup, cut out the arched windows on the front and sides of the house. Using a star cutter cut out a star in the front and back of the house. Using a knife, cut out the door on the front and back of the house and place the doors separately on the baking sheets.
3 Re-roll the trimmings and use to cut out the chimney and three Christmas trees. Bake the gingerbread for 7-8 mins. Meanwhile place the boiled sweets in a pestle and mortar and crush to a rough sand texture. Remove the gingerbread from the oven. Trim the windows if the mixture has spread and sprinkle the crushed sweets into the windows. Return to the oven and continue to cook for 3-4mins until the sweets have melted and the gingerbread is firm. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes then trim around the templates again to give clean, sharp edges. Leave to cool completely.
4 For the icing, whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until frothy. Using a wooden spoon or a hand held electric mixer on slow speed, add the icing sugar a tablespoonful at a time. Stir in the lemon juice and beat the icing until it is very stiff and white and stands up in peaks. Cover the surface with a damp cloth if not using immediately.
5 Spoon a little of the icing into a piping bag fitted with a medium plain nozzle, pipe blobs of icing on the back of each chocolate button and stick, overlapping onto the two roof sections, to create a tile effect. Transfer some icing to another piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle and pipe frames around the windows, doors and stars to decorate. Spoon 6 tbsp of the icing over the cake board and using a palette knife, spread the icing to cover the board with a snow effect and to create a base to stick the house on to. Pipe some icing along the wall edges and join the house together on the iced cake board. Leave the icing to dry and harden for a minimum of 4 hours, but preferably overnight. Place two night-lights inside the house before attaching the roof.
6 Once dry, cut the pointed ends of the cocktail sticks into 1cm pieces. (You should have 12 small pointed pieces). Push the blunt end of the cocktail stick pieces into the sloping edges of the front and back of the house, leaving the pointed ends sticking out to act as peg supports to attach the roof. (Remember to remove the sharp cocktail sticks from your gingerbread house before eating it, to avoid a choking hazard). Pipe icing between the cocktail sticks and fix the 2 roof panels onto the house. Pipe icing around the base and edges of the chimney and attach to the roof.
7 To decorate, pipe icing along the apex and edges of the roof to look like snow & icicles. Stick the front door in place with icing. Cut the back door into 3 pieces to use as props to keep the trees upright. Decorate the Christmas trees with piped icing and fix them onto the cake board with icing and gingerbread props. Dust the roof with icing sugar and light the night lights using a candle lighter through the open back door. Do not leave the candles lit unattended, and it is best not to burn the candles inside the house for longer than 15 minutes or they may singe the inside of the roof and start to melt the chocolate buttons.
For templates go to:
When I make it I always try and make the walls thicker than the roof so that the house is more sturdy and can hold more weight on top. Also if you use Mary Berry’s decoration, put the skewers in the gingerbread while it is cool and soft. This year I had a little difficulty with the piping, as opposed to the structure, but that is purely to do with the thickness of the icing and minimal practice. I used the following to decorate the house:
-candy cane sprinkles
-holly mix sprinkles