125g caster sugar
125g soft brown sugar
225g treacle, or golden syrup
725g plain flour
2 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
For the icing for the gingerbread boys and girls
175g icing sugar
1-2 tbsp boiling water
For the 'glue' icing for the house
2 egg whites
500g icing sugar
For decorating the house
hundreds and thousands
good quality chocolate buttons
silver balls, etc
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas 4. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
Melt the butter, caster sugar, brown sugar and treacle in a large saucepan.
Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon together, add the melted butter and sugar mixture and stir well until it comes together like sticky dough.
On a floured surface flatten the dough into a 2cm thick round, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
To make the gingerbread boys and girls: Roll the dough on a floured surface to 5mm thick. Cut out 6 or 8 shapes using boy/girl cookie cutters, transfer to the prepared baking trays and bake in the oven for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
To make the icing: Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add the water a little at a time, beat until you have a spreading consistency.Using a palette knife dipped in hot water, spread the icing over the gingerbread shapes. Spoon the icing into a small piping back to add details such as faces or hair. Leave to set.
To make the gingerbread house: To make the gingerbread house, first make templates with paper to the following dimensions - front and back panels 12.7 x 17.7cm (5x7inches). Two side panels 12.7 x 15.2cm (5x6 inches), the gable ends rise up to a point 7.6cm (3 inches) above the centre of the side panels. Two roof panels 11.4 x 17.7cm (4.5x7 inches).
Place a piece of parchment on a work surface dust with flour and roll out a quarter of the remaining dough to 5mm thick. Place one of the paper templates on top and with a sharp knife cut around. Repeat the process with the other templates using the remaining dough and rolling up the trimmings – until you have a front and back wall, two side walls and two roof panels.
Carefully move the pieces on their baking parchment to baking trays and bake for 12 – 15 minutes. Remove the trays from the oven and allow stand for a few minutes to firm up. Cut out a door on the front wall and windows on the side walls and reserve the cut-out pieces for later. Place on a wire rack for a few minutes, then turn over and peel off the paper and allow to cool completely.
To make the icing ‘glue’: Place the egg whites and sift in the sugar, stir to make a thick, smooth icing. Spoon into a piping bag with a small star-shaped nozzle.
To assemble the house Pipe generous lengths of icing along the vertical edges of the gingerbread walls. Using a bowl to support the walls from the inside – prop up the walls and hold the sides gently in place with your hands until the icing is dry. Leave the roofless house to dry for at lease 30 minutes until the icing is set.
Once dry remove the supporting bowl and pipe a line of icing along one long side of the roof piece and along the top edge of all the walls. Stick the two roof sections at an angle and set the two pieces on top of the house. Leave to dry for 30 minutes.
While the roof is drying attach the door to the doorway with icing so it looks slightly ajar. Stick a small piece of ‘flake’ chocolate into the roof as a chimney.
Pipe icing around the windows and stick sweets around the door and on the front of the house. To make icicles start with the nozzle at a 90-degree angle to the roof and squeeze out a pea-sized blob of icing, pull the nozzle down and then pull away leaving a pointy trail of icing.
Using the icing stick the chocolate and sugared buttons on the roof to make tiles and the gingerbread boys and girls around the house, scatter the board with sugar strands.
And here's my effort!
The window at this end of the house was a little wonky, I must have been sitting funny for this one!
I also chose to dust the house with icing sugar to give a snowy effect. I made some star shaped gingerbread biscuits with the leftover dough and stuck those to the board too.
When I made the glue icing I found that the egg whites quoted in the recipe weren't enough and ended up using about 2 1/2, after my first attempt with the piping bag went horribly wrong and I couldn't squeeze any icing out at all. I'd say don't put it all in the bag, put a bit in and check the consistency, because scraping it all out is a hell of a palaver!