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    Gingerbread House

    Create a little magic with our step-by-step guide to a traditional gingerbread house. You will need a printer to print off the template below, plus a piping bag with 0.5cm, 1cm and 1.5cm nozzles. This dough works wonderfully for biscuits, too.

    Print your Gingerbread House template >

    • Vegetarian
    • Preparation time: 2 hours 30 minutes + cooling, chilling and setting
    • Cooking time: 1 hours
    • Total time: 3 hours 30 minutes + cooling, chilling and setting

    Serves: 12

    Ingredients

    200g dark brown muscovado sugar
    90g golden syrup
    3 tbsp ground ginger
    1 tbsp ground cinnamon
    1 tsp ground cloves
    250g salted butter
    1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    550g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

    TO DECORATE
    8 yellow or green Fox’s Glacier Fruits
    Dr Oetker Rainbow Decorating Icing Tubes
    2 x 105g packs Elizabeth Shaw Dark Chocolate Cappuccino Flutes
    120g pack No.1 Pâtes de Fruits, quartered

    ICING
    500g icing sugar
    85g egg whites (about 3)
    ¼ tsp cream of tartar

    Method

    1. Print out the template for the gingerbread house and cut out. In a medium pan, combine the sugar, syrup, spices, butter and 2 tbsp water. Cook over a low-medium heat, stirring every now and then, until combined. Take off the heat, then stir in the bicarbonate of soda until foamy. Pour into a large bowl and set aside to cool (for about
    30 minutes). Sift over the flour and stir in to make a dough. Flatten into a disk and wrap with baking parchment. Chill for at least 1 hour.

    2. Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Use a pestle and mortar to lightly crush the glacier fruits; set aside. Tear a sheet of baking parchment and, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out some (roughly ¼) gingerbread dough on it until 0.6cm thick. Use the template and a sharp knife to cut out one of the roof pieces. It’s best to bake them one piece at a time, as they expand as they cook. Slide the roof on the parchment onto a baking tray, then bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for 10-11 minutes, until golden. Lift the parchment onto a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the parchment and allow the biscuit to cool completely. Repeat for the rest of the roof.

    3. Repeat with the remaining dough, still baking one piece at a time. For the sides and back of the house, cut out a 3cm square window, using the template. And for the front and back cut out a circular ‘upstairs’ window using a 2.5cm cookie cutter. You will need to re-roll any scraps to roll out all the pieces. Sprinkle some crushed glacier fruits into any cut-out windows before baking; they will melt in the oven to create ‘glass’.

    4. While the biscuits cool, make the icing. Put all the ingredients in the bowl of a freestanding mixer with a paddle attachment; mix on the lowest speed for 6-7 minutes. (Alternatively, beat with a hand mixer for 7-8 minutes.) It’s ready when small, stiff peaks appear around the edges and the icing has the texture of satin. Be careful not to overwork it as it can get too aerated.Transfer to a sealable container, cover the surface directly with baking parchment and seal until ready to use. (Keep at room temperature and use that day.)

    5. When all the pieces are completely cool, put some of the icing into a piping bag with a 0.5cm nozzle or hole. (It’s easier to pipe if you don’t overfill it.) Decorate the front, back and side biscuits with windows, shutters and a front door by piping the outer lines with the white icing. Draw a cross over the windows to create panes. To pipe, hold the tip at a 90o angle to the biscuit, pull the bag up slightly after the initial contact, then squeeze with an even pressure until you reach the end of the line you’re piping. Stop squeezing, then touch the nozzle down towards the biscuit before pulling away. Practice on a board first, if liked.

    6. Use the decorating tubes to fill the shutters and door (we used pink for the door and orange for the shutters). Use the green icing to make a wreath around the front circular window and add dots in other colours for baubles. You can add any other decorations you like to the sides at this stage, then leave the icing to set for at least 20 minutes.

    7. When you’re ready to build the house, change the piping bag to a 1cm nozzle or fill a new bag with a 1cm hole. Pipe a line of icing along the bottom edge of the biscuit with the front door, then stick it to a flat board or plate (roughly 16cm x 12cm), ensuring the door is facing outwards. Use a glass to keep the biscuit upright. Pipe a line up one of the sides of the front biscuit then pipe a line along the bottom edge of a side biscuit and stick them together. Repeat with the other side, then finally add the back of the house. Pipe extra icing into the gaps between the biscuits to make a solid connection between each one and the base board. Patience is key here: for a sturdy house, leave to set for at least 30 minutes.

    8. Pipe a generous line of icing along the top edges on one side of the house; attach one roof biscuit. Hold this piece in place while you pipe the remaining exposed edges for the other roof biscuit. (A second pair of hands helps!) Carefully attach the other roof piece and hold in place for a few minutes. Once it’s starting to feel stable, carefully remove your hands. Pipe in extra icing to close the gap where the roof joins or under the edges, being careful not to touch the biscuits. Leave to set for at least 1 hour.

    9. Put the remaining icing into a piping bag with a 1.5cm piping nozzle or hole. Pipe horizontal lines of icing across the roof to stick on the chocolate flutes, vertically. Pipe swirls of snow at the top, edges and base of the roof, then decorate with the pâtes de fruits. Leave to set for at least 30 minutes before carefully moving it, to display or devour!

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