This has become something of a yearly tradition at Hunters Rose. It was born out of my son’s favourite treat, biscuits (his favourite being gingerbread men of course) and his love to have a biscuit in each hand (this is essential!) with a cup of baby tea while watching his favourite TV program. This favourite past time was a love definitely fostered by his granny.
We decided to take things to the next level, and thus our yearly family gingerbread house making project/competition was born. Since Christmas is the time for giving, here is the recipe we use to create our masterpieces:
350g x Cake flour
2 tsp x Ground ginger
1 tsp x Ground cinnamon
1 tsp x Bicarbonate of soda
125g x Butter (room temperature)
175g x Light soft brown sugar (unrefined brown sugar recommended)
1 x Extra large or jumbo egg
4 tbsp x Golden syrup
2 x Egg whites
2 x Cups of icing sugar
The trick with the icing is; 1 egg white to 1 cup of icing sugar.
Sift the dry ingredients together into a bowl (flour, ginger, cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda).
Rub in the butter until you get to a bread crumb consistency. You can also do this in the food processor, on pulse.
Now add the brown sugar.
Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together and add to the mixture.
Knead the dough until smooth, then wrap in cling film and leave it in the fridge for 15 minutes to rest.
While the dough is resting preheat the oven to 180°C and line two backing trays with baking paper.
After the dough has rested, roll it out (just over 0.5cm in thickness) on a lightly floured, and preferably cool, surface using a template (we highly recommend this).
You can download a template from the internet or make your own! Once you have your template ready, cut out the parts required for your house.
Bake these in the oven for approximately 12-15 minutes or until the biscuits are lightly golden.
While your biscuits are still fresh out of the oven, you can trim them back into shape if they happen to spread during baking. This way they will still fit together nicely. (Don't try to do this once they have cooled down though).
Leave the biscuits to completely cool on the backing tray before taking them off (moving warm biscuits may make them crack or break).
Combine the egg whites and icing sugar into a large bowl and stir well to make a thick, smooth icing. If too stiff, thin icing with a few drops of water. Use immediately; keep it tightly covered in plastic to prevent icing from drying in the bowl. Royal icing can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 12 hours.
To dye royal icing we recommend a gel paste. Divide the icing into as many bowls as you wish to have colours, and cover each one tightly with plastic. Working with 1 bowl at a time, add 1 drop gel paste to a batch of icing, then stir until fully incorporated before adjusting colour with more gel. Kepp your bowls covered tightly when not in use.
When you ready to use the royal icing, spoon it into a piping bag.
This is a bit of an art form...but let your inner builder free! Start by securing your four walls to the base on which the house will sit. You can do this by piping a thick line of icing on the base and placing the wall upright in it. (Tip: you can use a tin can to help keep your walls propped up until the icing has set). Run a line of icing on the inside of the house where the walls join. Wait for the icing to dry. Once dry, you can begin adding the roof pieces.
Once assembled you can start decorating your house with all your favourite sweets!
Don’t roll your dough out too thin – slightly thicker biscuits give your gingerbread house better structural integrity.
Put the smaller biscuit pieces on one tray and the larger pieces on another. The smaller pieces will bake quicker than the larger pieces and you will need to take them out of the oven before you take out the larger pieces (this stops the smaller pieces from burning as they need less time in the oven).
Wait for the biscuits to be completely cold prior to icing.
We hope you enjoy :) We wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!
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