The greatest achievement of your Christmas baking career will be this Gingerbread House. Trust me. If I never make another baked good again, I will still feel like a hero because I created this.
I want you all to feel this clever. I can help you feel this clever. PROMISE. If you can bake a cookie, you can make this house.
Come with me, and you’ll be
In a world of pure imagination….
Yes, I am the Willy Wonka of Gingerbread.
I’m not a huge fan of cooking. It feels like a chore most days. Just thinking about what to cook every day does my head in. Amiright? Coming up with new ideas all the time? Blergh.
But I LOVE baking. Mostly because the baked goods are always far tastier than the main meal, but also because I get to decorate. It’s like art with food.
I made this Gingerbread mansion for a friend’s dinner party a few years ago. Can you see how bloody impressed I am with myself? I am LOVING MYSELF SICK. I mean, it has LIGHTS for Santa’s sake. LIGHTS!!
But then my friends ate it.
It took me a while to recover. But now I’m ready to try again. Let’s make this one together, ok?
First up, here’s the template for the house. You can print it on plain old A4 paper.
Now, let’s get baking:
Bake for 12-14 minutes at 180 degrees celsius.
- 2 cups Sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 250g Copha or shortening at room temp
- 3 tablespoons Golden Syrup
- 4 eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 tablespoons ginger (this is for a mild ginger taste. You can add more for a stronger flavour)
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon nutmeg
- 6 cups plain flour
This makes quite a lot of gingerbread but you’ll need all of it. Grab yourself a large mixing bowl.
Cream the shortening with the sugar and brown sugar.
Add in the Golden Syrup and eggs and beat until fluffy.
Mix in the spices, salt and baking soda.
Add in the flour one cup at a time and mix slowly until just combined. It’s quite a firm dough, so when the it starts coming off the sides of the bowl cleanly, tip it out onto a floured surface and start kneading.
Grab a handful and roll it out to a thickness of about 4mm. This is always a tricky process to make sure it’s all even. You can use a couple of pieces of dowel and put them underneath the ends of rolling pin to help you roll evenly. Or, you can just get one of these awesome Joseph Joseph rolling pins with removable discs that raise the rolling surface to different heights, helping keep your dough an even thickness. I’m in love with it.
I roll my dough in between two pieces of baking paper. Makes life so much easier.
Print out your template and cut out the shapes. Lay it on top of your dough and use a sharp knife to cut out the pieces.
Don’t attempt to lift the dough up off the baking paper because shit will go down and the tears will flow. Just remove the excess dough and slide the whole sheet of paper onto your tray. Carefully remove the paper template because it might stick a bit to the dough.
Bake the gingerbread for 12-14 minutes at 180 degrees celsius. You want your gingerbread to be really firm, so make sure it’s very well cooked. Not necessarily burnt… but close.
AS SOON as you get the gingerbread out of the oven, you’ll want to trim the edges to make them nice and neat. The cookie will spread and expand as it cooks so the edges will be all warped. If you cut while it’s still very hot, the cookie won’t crack. If you let it cool down a bit, you risk it cracking or chipping. Pop the paper template back on top and cut it to size.
Let the gingerbread cool down completely and then lay it all out flat, ready for decorating. You may want to leave it overnight. Try not to eat it.
The gingerbread will last for WEEKS so you can bake this right today and it’ll still be fine on Christmas Day. Seriously, don’t wait to do this until the week of Christmas or you’ll end up stabbing someone. This needs to be done when you don’t have eleventy billion other things to do because, I’ll be honest, this is a lengthy process. Especially if you don’t have a large oven and can only cook a couple of pieces at a time. I think the baking process alone took me almost 3 hours. If you’re really organised and have all your ingredients ready to go and have a big oven, it’ll probably be faster. But I’m not particularly organised. I took a step back from the bench at one point and thought “holy shit, this is probably why it takes me so long”
But, it’ll be worth it. Trust me.
So leave your gingerbread to cool and put your feet up.
When you have recovered from the baking, you’re ready to decorate and construct your gingerbread mansion! I’ve got all the instructions here.
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