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    Gingerbread house by Fiona Cairns

    A winter woodland gingerbread house by Fiona Cairns

    • Preparation time: 80 minutes
    • Cooking time: 40 minutes + 30 minutes chilling
    • Total time: 2 hours 30 minutes 60 minutes 60 minutes 30 minutes

    Serves: 30


    600g plain flour, plus extra to dust
    4 tsp ground ginger
    2½ tsp ground cinnamon
    2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    250g salted butter, slightly softened and diced
    3 medium Waitrose British Blacktail Free Range Egg yolks
    200g light muscovado sugar
    6 tbsp golden syrup
    Finely grated zest of 1 orange

    530g plain flour
    70g cocoa powder
    4 tsp ground ginger
    2 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
    2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    250g salted butter, slightly softened and diced
    3 medium Waitrose British Blacktail Free Range Egg yolks
    200g light muscovado sugar
    4 tbsp golden syrup
    2 tbsp black treacle
    Finely grated zest of 1 orange

    White royal icing made from a 500g bag Tate & Lyle Royal Icing Sugar, plus red food dye to colour a portion of the icing,and a small piping bag with the end snipped off
    Waitrose Cooks’ Homebaking Dreamy Clouds Of Meringue Melting Moments
    Nestlé Milkybar Giant Buttons
    Woodland Friends Sugar Decorations
    Waitrose Clear Fruits (red only)
    Waitrose Cooks’ Homebaking Silver Balls
    Dr Oetker Giant Chocolate stars

    100g Fox’s Glacier Mints
    150g desiccated coconut
    Waitrose White Chocolate Stars
    Waitrose Christmas Sparkly Sprinkling Snow
    Thorntons Crispy Chocolate Snowballs
    Dr Oetker Hundreds & Thousands
    Sugar snowman decoration*

    Nestlé Milkybar Buttons
    Nestlé Smarties (red only)
    1 Cadbury’s Flake
    Waitrose White Writing Icing and
    Dr Oetker Writing Icing Bright Red

    35cm square board or a chopping board covered in foil
    Selection of cookie cutters: tree (12cm and 8cm long), reindeer, rabbit, and heart cutter (3cm approx)*
    Battery-operated night lights*



    1. Line 2 or 3 baking sheets with baking parchment. Into the bowl of an electric mixer, or a large bowl (using a hand-held whisk) sift together the flour, spices and bicarbonate of soda. Add the diced butter and process briefly until it resembles breadcrumbs. Tip in all the remaining ingredients and process until the dough comes together. If it’s too sticky, sift over a little more flour. Then wrap in clingfilm and chill for a good 30 minutes in the fridge to make it easier to roll.

    2. For the chocolate gingerbread, repeat using the method in step 1, this time sift the cocoa powder in with the flour and add treacle with the golden syrup. Chill in the same way.

    3. Divide the spiced orange dough in half. Roll half on a well-floured work surface into a large rectangle about 5mm thick. Using a large knife cut 2 rectangles for the roof, 15.5cm x 21cm.

    4. Re-roll the off-cuts of the remaining dough into a large circle and cut 2 triangles measuring 22 x 22 x 18.5cm (the short side being the base) for the front and back walls of the house.

    5. Using the heart cutter, cut out a window, and make a rectangular front door, 6cm x 3cm wide, and a back door hole 6cm x 5cm (large enough to insert battery night lights). Remembering to bake the front door piece, but the back is simply a hole. Cut a base 18.5cm x18.5cm square and a chimney, about 5cm x 2cm.

    6. Place all the cut out gingerbread shapes in a cool place for 30 minutes.

    7. Preheat the oven to 170°C, gas mark 3. Bake the gingerbread in batches for about 15-20 minutes. To make the heart window, remove the front triangle from the oven after 10 minutes, sprinkle 1-2 crushed red boiled sweets into the heart shaped space and return to the oven until baked.

    8. The dough will have spread a little while baking so re-measure and trim all the pieces straight away while the pieces are warm as you need straight edges.



    1. Using the white royal icing secure the square gingerbread base to the board and stick the 2 walls and 2 sides of the roof together. Do this in stages, pressing firmly until each piece has bonded.

    2. For the front door, score a few lines using a knife, and pipe a tiny door handle with the red-dyed royal icing. Finally, cut the base of the chimney at an angle and stick onto the roof.

    3. To make the snow, crush the glacier mints in a pestle and mortar. Sprinkle coconut in front of the house and top with the crushed mints, then add tiny white stars and sparkly snow. Make the path with the hundreds & thousands.

    4. Use the royal icing to glue the giant buttons and cloud meringues to the roof of the house and pipe tiles, icicles and other details. Be creative. Stick a giant white chocolate star at each end where the 2 roof pieces meet.

    5. To make the plinth above the door, take a small offcut of gingerbread, trim to 6.5cm x 1cm and stick above the door. The crushed, boiled sweets will soften the biscuit and not last after a few days. If you wish to make the house a week in advance, use sweets to decorate instead



    1. Roll out the chocolate gingerbread in exactly the same way as the house, and cut out shapes: reindeer, trees and rabbits (the dough should be about 5mm thick). Remember larger shapes will take longer to bake than smaller so place on separate trays accordingly. Larger shapes will take 15-20 minutes and the smaller (trees & rabbits) 10-15 minutes

    2. To make Christmas trees with ‘glass’ red baubles, cut out trees and, using the end of a piping nozzle, cut out small circles of dough.

    3. Bake the tree gingerbreads for 5-10 minutes, remove from the oven and sprinkle pieces of crushed red sweets into the holes. Return to the oven and bake for a further 10 minutes or so. As with the heart-shaped window, if you choose to make tree baubles in this way they will soften after 2 or 3 days. Alternatively use sweets, e.g. Smarties, to decorate, attaching with royal icing or melted chocolate

    4. Pipe simple white icing outlines and dots onto the trees, rabbits and reindeer (and a red nose) and sprinkle with some sparkly snow. If you wish to make a flying reindeer, insert some fine thread using a needle into the top of the baked reindeer – along his back – and suspend as required (remember to remove the thread before serving, or you can always recyle it to hang on your Christmas tree).



    1. Cut short lengths of chocolate flake to make the mushroom stems, ensuring the ends are flat. Using the royal icing, stick onto a Smartie or giant chocolate button. Leave to dry for half an hour or so, with the stalks in the air. Pipe writing icing dots – white onto the red Smarties, and red onto the white chocolate buttons.

    2. Finally stick down the trees, reindeer, rabbits, toadstools, Woodland Friends, snowballs and 2 snowmen around the house to create a magical Christmas scene. Scatter a flurry of sparkly sprinkling snow over the whole scene, and place the lights in the house to light up your winter woodland creation!

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