Thursday, 5 January 2012

Gingerbread House

Last Christmas I made my first ever Gingerbread House- a cousin of the above image. I used quite a simple template- four walls (two pentagonal fronts and two rectangular sides) and two rectangular roof panels; for a first attempt, I was rather pleased. I then decided to make one for the following Easter and one each for two of my friends' birthdays in Summer- all using the same templates.
This year I wanted to make a Gingerbread House again, but wished to try something a little different. Unfortunately, I could only find one free template on line which was a little more interesting than my 2010 one. I decided I would use the same template, but have the house facing a different direction (the door was on a rectangular rather than pentagonal wall). I also added an extension to the right side of the house- a simple, four walled section with a perpendicular roof.

For the gingerbread, I used a recipe from the BBC Good Food website, which I have posted below. It tastes great, and the smell during baking is so inviting, but last year- despite it having sat out without a container (or any other coverage) for over a week-, everyone seemed to enjoy the taste all the same. I wouldn't recommend the gingerbread house as a gastronomic delight if you are planning (as I did) for it to act as a visual pleasure for as long as possible, but you needn't worry if you will eat the house within 2 or 3 days after making it. Bear in mind that most of the decorations will also probably become a little stale- chocolate begins to taste almost dusty after a few days, so if you want it to taste really good or use fancy ingredients, the best-before would be only a couple of days. 

To stick the gingerbread together, I used royal icing- the recipe is also from BBC Good Food. This icing is quite stiff and sets quickly, so is ideal for a cement. For the icicles, I thinned-down the icing with a bit of water so it would flow from the piping bag more easily. 

I used various food colourings for the detailing on the walls; as I wanted dark shades (dark green for the holly, red for the berries, black for the door knob), I had to use a lot of colouring, as I only had liquid colouring. I would definitely use a gel or paste in the future, because in order to achieve a dark enough colour with liquid, you would have to make the icing very runny (too runny to pipe) from so much thin colouring.
The log pile is made of some chopped flakes.

Bite-size Shredded Wheat make up the thatch roof tiles.

The snowman is three marshmallows skewered on a cocktail stick, the hat is a fruit pastille and the scarf is Orange zest.
To make the trees, I piped rings of green royal icing stars around ice cream cones- I have seen this on quite a few websites, so you could find tutorials from a Google search.

Doubling the below recipe made enough dough for the house and at least one batch of gingerbread men- you could probably use 1 1/2 of the ingredients for a house of the same size. If you do decide to make more than the quantities below provide, it may be necessary to roll the dough into a ball (or two), wrap in cling film and refrigerate for about 20 minutes before rolling out, as it can be a little difficult to roll out with large quantities.

Gingerbread House


250g unsalted butter

200g dark muscovado sugar

7tbsp golden syrup

600g plain flour

2tsp bicarbonate of soda

4tsp ground ginger
2tsp cinnamon (I usually add this if I am making gingerbread at Christmas)

Royal Icing:

2 egg whites

500g icing sugar


1. Pre heat the oven to 200°C/ 400F/Gas 6.

2. Melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan. Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger in a large bowl, then stir in the melted mixture to make a stiff dough. If it won’t quite come together, add a tiny splash of water.

3. Cut out the templates onto greaseproof paper and roll out the dough to the thickness of about two £1 coins. Cut the dough into the shapes of the templates.

4. Bake all the sections for 12 minutes or until firm and a little darker around the edges. Leave to cool a little, cut around the templates again, then leave to cool completely.

5. For the icing, put the egg whites in a bowl, and then sift in the icing sugar. Stir to make a smooth, thick icing. 

6. To stick the walls together, align the four walls and once they are straight, pipe or spread thick lines of the icing along the edges and press the walls together and hold until the icing begins to set. After a few hours (give it at least 3, depending on the stability), add some more icing to the tops of the walls where the roof panels will rest. Push down the roof panels and leave for a few hours before decorating. I usually do this the day before decorating; I assemble the walls in the morning and the roof in the afternoon.

The dimensions for the main part of the house are as follows (you will want two of each shape):
For the pentagonal sides: A 15.2 cm by 10.4 cm square with a triangle on top of the 15.2 cm side with height of 7.6 cm
For the rectangular sides (front and back): A 17.7 cm base by 10.7 cm rectangle
For the roof panels: A 17.7 cm by11.4 cm rectangle

The dimensions for the extension are as follows:
For the trapezium shaped walls (front and back)- you will need two of these: A trapezium with a 10.7cm height on one side, 8cm height on its parallel side and an 8cm base
For the rectangular side: An 8cm by 9.2cm base rectangle
For the rectangular roof panel: An 8.5cm by 8cm base rectangle


  1. I NEED TO MAKE THIS :D It looks amazing!! I love the inventiveness of it all! :D

  2. really love how you pay attenton to detail!
    tried to make one of these for the neighbors little kids (benjamin and pam) on Saturday to celebrate little pam's prayer-making competiton (st.bernadette is her rolemodel). did my very best but my sausage-y thumb just couldn't prop up the walls like yours so i just did a piramid and put a snow man on top. i like egg so i put some egg on it!! didn't have shreddies so i relied on dried banana.
    pam said it tasted good but benji was only interested in the snomen!! oh why!
    i had the rest and i liked it. i am becoming obsessde with these ercipes, sorry!

    1. Gingerbread houses are always a little fiddly to assemble, I guess practise makes perfect! I'm rather intrigued about how you managed to incorporate that egg! And again, I'm glad you liked the recipe!

    2. You stated that the log pile is made of some chopped flakes. Can you explain how you do that?
      That's pretty good for two times to make gingerbread houses. I've been doing this for years and I make it harder every year too. Lots of planning. :)

    3. Hi PeggySue

      I just used some Cadbury flakes ( and broke them into about thirds and then stacked them up like a pyramid. If you want the logs to be a little slimmer, you can also carefully use a sharp knife to pry-away the flakes or slice them lengthwise
      Thanks, it really does require a lot of planning, I need to start thinking about this year's house! :)
      (good luck for your house this year :) )


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