This will make enough dough for a small house like the one pictured, with some left over to either make spare walls, some gingerbread men or biscuits.  How much will depend on how thin you roll it.


Timings – allow at least 3 hours before you use the dough, once you’ve mixed it (it will keep for a few days in the fridge), bake in a moderate oven (gas 6, 180 C).  Equipment needed: flat baking sheets, a rolling pin,  knife, some baking parchment.


Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Then slowly combine with the golden syrup/molasses.  Add all the other ingredients and mix – either with a dough hook (if you’re using a mixer) or by hand, adding a little water as you go, until the desired consitency – stiff dough - is reached.  Cover and chill for at least 3 hours before turning out onto a floured board.  Roll out the dough to an even thickness – or some parts will cook differently to others and their shapes won’t match up.  Carefully transfer to flat baking sheets and bake for around 15 – 20 minutes, depending on your oven.  This isn’t like baking a cake, so you can safely peek without any fear of things going wrong.  Don’t undercook, as this may result in the gingerbread not being stiff enough – you’re baking for buildability, so a little overdone’s ok.  Leave to cool for at least half an hour (preferably more) before assembling.


Royal Icing

This is the glue for your house and its adornments and is the best thing to use.  (young children and the  elderly shouldn’t eat raw egg, so buy off the shelf royal icing if necessary). Make it fairly stiff, but spreadable.


Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and combine slowly with all the other ingredients, then beat with a whisk/mixer on a high setting for a couple of minutes until the mixture’s light and fluffy.


Popular decorations for gingerbread houses are candy canes, jelly tots/dolly mixture, smarties and chocolate buttons – but this is where much of the creativity comes in, so anything goes.  Have fun.


 

Recipe for Gingerbread

Ingredients

200g butter

100g brown sugar

250g golden syrup (or molasses, whichever you prefer)

600g plain flour, plus more for rolling out etc

1tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp ground cinnamon

A pinch of salt and if you like your gingerbread spicy, a tsp  or so of ground cloves or allspice.

A little water – depending on the dough’s consistency


Ingredients for royal icing

500g icing sugar

2 egg whites

1 tblsp cream of tartar

A tiny bit of water, just in case the mixture’s too thick – but literally just a drop.