A girl, a whisk & an oven
Confession time: I’ve never really made a gingerbread house before. It just isn’t a thing around these parts, I guess. But this year I decided to follow Yolanda’s lead and try my hand in it – the hard way, as usual, as silicone molds aren’t readily available since no one really bakes gingerbread houses here.
This is what you’ll need for a moderately sized house (measurements for the size of the cut-out biscuits below):
Preheat your oven at 190 C (mine runs a bit hot, so I stuck with 180).
Making the dough is as straight forward as it gets: in the bowl of your mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar and molasses, along with the spices. It’s usually a good idea to mix the spices in with the butter, as fat carries flavor.
By the way, I tried oiling my measuring cup before adding the molasses and it still clung to it like crazy. If I thought glucose syrup was sticky stuff, molasses is in a league of its own! Anyone have any idea how to make the process less sticky, please let me know!
Next, just add your flour and water and mix until incorporated and you’ll get a stiff dough. (the amount of dough in the pictures is half the actual amount, as I prepared it in two batches).
Ideally you need to rest the dough for about 30′ (in the fridge if your kitchen is particularly warm), but it’s such a stiff dough you really won’t have trouble rolling it out if you’re in a hurry, even without resting it.
I rolled mine out pretty thin and cut it to size using my DIY stencils, but this would go a lot faster (and easier) if you’re using molds. If you’re doing this the hard way, just roll the dough out on a piece of parchment, cut the shape out and remove the excess dough around it, then slide it onto a rimless cookie sheet and bake for about 10-12 minutes, until the dough hardens and the edges are slightly darker.
Leave the pieces to cool and start building!
Dimensions for the stencils:
You’ll need to cut out two of each of the front, side and roof panels, 4 shutters and the chimney panels (you only need one of each rectangular piece and two of the trapezoid, one of which will be flipped).
I actually used the gingerbread biscuits to decorate my chocolate ginger cake, which required very little royal icing, as they stuck pretty easily to the iced sides of the cake, but as long as you got the measurements right, you should be able to put it together fairly effortlessly.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the egg whites and vanilla and beat until frothy. Add the powdered sugar gradually and mix on low speed until the sugar is well incorporated and the mixture is shiny.
Turn the speed up to high and beat until the mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks. This should take approximately 5-7 minutes.
Place the mixture in a pastry or ziploc bag and seal to keep it from drying out if you’re not planning on using it immediately.
For the actually building of the house, I started layering the chocolate cake and sticking the sides of the house on with some buttercream:
On to the decorations – and this will get a bit messy, even if you’re as OCD as I am about order and tidiness and cleaning up as you go:
I used rectangular waffles as ’tiles’ for the roof, m&ms to decorate the door and windows, and royal icing for snow and to fill any gaps in the panels.
Finally, I spread a thin layer of royal icing on the cake board and sprinkled some ‘fresh snow’ on top (i.e. dessicated coconut).
The royal icing is a bit tricky if it’s not thick enough, as it will invariably drip down the sides of whatever you’re applying it on – luckily, I actually wanted the effect of snow sliding down the roof. Melted chocolate can also be quite messy as a glue, and it needs to be the right consistency – not drippy enough for the decorations to slide around but not entirely solid either.
It’s detailed work so it takes quite some time to finish, but the result doesn’t disappoint, if I may say so myself 🙂
I almost didn’t want to cut into the house to serve the cake inside, but in the end, my love of chocolate won:
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.