Gingerbread houses, I’ve seen them on tv and in magazines, but they’re not really a Dutch tradition, nor a French one, so I never made one. Until recently, when all of the sudden, I felt the urgent need to bake one. A real one, set in a cute winter landscape, with miniature people and snow.
So, what do you do when you feel like you can’t wait any longer? That’s right, you take the next day off, buy all the necessities and bake your ass off. Cause boy, what a work! Making the dough is easy, but cutting out all parts, baking them (no less than 6 baking trays were necessary for the job) and letting them cool took me the whole day. Which was exactly the point, a relaxing day of baking and fiddling around at home, so it was all just perfect.
Assembling the house is another thing, let’s say it’s better for the world that I never became an architect or construction worker… Luckily, in gingerbread land, there’s always more icing to fill in the gaps and cracks. My poor miniature people must be so cold in their house with so many window-frames, but no actual windows! Fortunately for them, the snow isn’t real and this winter wonder land was standing next to the radiator.
To make things extra real for my mini people, I even made a daytime and night time set for them. Not that they have a bed to sleep in, but they shouldn’t get to greedy, I’ve already built them a house with my own two hands!
I took my mini house to friends (and let me tell you that transporting this villa on a bike is not the easiest thing I’ve ever done….). Their two-year old daughter was intrigued and immediately placed her toy gnomes inside, like a bunch of squatters, but with red pointy hats.
Since this was my very first time, and I had no idea where to begin, I used a recipe by BBC’s GoodFood. I adjusted it slightly.
Good luck and bon appétit!
- Unsalted butter, 250g (1 + ⅛ cup)
- Brown packed sugar, 200g (1 cup)
- Maple syrup, 4 tbsp
- Agave syrup, 3 tbsp
- Flour, 600g (6 cups)
- Baking powder, 2 tsp
- Ground ginger, 4 tsp
- Egg whites, 2
- Icing sugar, 500g (4 cups), plus extra to dust
- Heat the oven to 200 C / 390 F
- Melt the butter, sugar and syrups in a pan
- Mix the flour with the baking powder and ginger, then stir in the butter mixture to make a dough (I needed to add a bit of water too, in order for it to come together)
- Put a sheet of baking paper on your kitchen countertop and roll out about one quarter of the dough.
- Use a gingerbread template (I downloaded one from BBC GoodFood) to cut out one of sides, then slide it, still on its baking paper, onto a baking sheet
- Repeat with remaining dough, re-rolling the trimmings, until you have cut out all the parts of the template
- Bake all the sections for 12-14 mins or until firm and just a little darker at the edges
- Leave to cool completely
- Put the egg whites in a large bowl, and stir in the icing sugar to make a thick, smooth icing
- Spoon into a piping bag and pipe generously along the wall edges, one by one, to join the walls together
- Use a small bowl to support the walls from the inside, then allow to dry, ideally for a few hours
- Once dry, remove the supports and fix the roof panels on, the angle is steep so you may need to hold these on firmly for a few mins until the icing starts to dry
- Decorate your gingerbread house and leave to dry completely, ideally overnight