My new Christmas tradition is to make increasing complicated gingerbread houses each year (I may have reached my peak this year (which is only year number two)). My retired engineer dad gets to put his degree to use once a year by making my house templates from my very crude drawing. About 3 days of baking and decorating later, and my gingerbread MASTERPIECE is finished.
For the gingerbread I used two batches of the BBC Good Food gingerbread house recipe, rolled it to the width of a pound and then cut out the templates using a sharp knife. I found it super difficult to get a complete sheet of dough the size of the front and back panel because the dough tends to crack at the edges. So I patched up the dough and extended it to fit the template by rolling out extra bits of dough and sticking it down with water. I cooked all the big pieces (front, walls and roof) for 12 minutes (as it says in the recipe) and all the smaller details for 8-10 minutes (I learnt this after burning a load of porch pieces…).
Before building the house I filed the edges of all the pieces VERY CAREFULLY with a microplane grater. I literally broke about 5 of the same piece…
I glued the house together and to the cake board using royal icing. I used cans to ensure the walls were upright while the icing dries. I let the walls dry completely overnight before adding the roof. The wreaths on the door are made with royal icing that I thickened a lot with icing sugar, I dyed most of it green with Sugarflair gel food colouring in gooseberry and the rest a deep red with Sugarflair gel in claret. I piped with the green on with a little leaf piping tip and spotted the red on with a toothpick. I did this the night before I attached the door.
Now for the decoration! I ’tiled’ the porch roof with chocolate buttons and while chocolate buttons and the roofs with the giant versions of the buttons on the porch roof. I attached these with royal icing in an overlapping, roof-tiley (definitely not a word) pattern. I made icing icicles (icingcles?) by piping royal icing onto the roof and then pulling the bag away to make long strands.
Anywhere the roof looked a bit dodgy, i.e. around the chimney, at the point and where the two grooves joined, I piped royal icing ‘snow’. Snow covers ALL sins.
I used Red Vines to cover the joins at the side of the house and to divide the houses into two, and above the windows. I decorate the chimneys with sparkly snowflake sprinkles and all the little figures (the robin, snowman, christmas tree and creepy creepy child thing) were pre-made decorations bought from Waitrose. My Christmas trees are made from Wilton candy melts in green and vibrant green piped into moulds. I used the left over melted candy melts (that I hadn’t already eaten) and the little lead nozzle to give my robin a branch to sit on. I topped all the trees with white chocolate sprinkles.
My little pathways were made from the gingerbread crumbs I grated off mixed with the Waitrose Christmas sparkly sprinkling snow to make it extra festive.
To make my house even more christmassy I covered it all in the sparkly snow and edible glitter, because there isn’t a single thing that isn’t made better by glitter.
So that is roughly how I made this giant piece of biscuit architecture. Personally, I’m pretty chuffed with the outcome! It will now sit on the side table in my dining room probably until new year, by which time it will be very stale but my family will still eat it for fear of wasting food. A lot of people look at this like this and say ‘its all well and good looking nice but it must taste horrible’, which is just WRONG. This gingerbread recipe is super super yummy, 10/10 would bake again. If anybody wants the measurements just leave me a comment and I’ll get them all worked out for you.
Honestly decorating the house is the most therapeutic thing, tiling the roof was so tedious in the best way possible, if that makes sense? It also really gets you in the festive spirit and lets you procrastinate from work without feeling too guilty because you’re sort of serving a purpose! All round very fun would recommend!