The closest I’ve come to ‘making’ a gingerbread house was using the IKEA gingerbread house kit. It was not much of a success with us. Some of the parts were already broken in the box and the house didn’t seem sturdy when it was completed. I also wasn’t keen on my kids eating it with all that sugar and preservatives. I didn’t grow up making these houses as a family tradition, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure what the fuss was all about! 🙂
However, it’s Lockdown Part 2 in our part of the world and added to that, it’s almost Winter. I am desperately looking for indoor activities that I can do with my kids, and making a gingerbread house from scratch seemed like an interesting and seasonally-appropriate challenge to undertake.
I found a recipe that looked reasonably easy:
There were two attempts:
For the first attempt, I replaced half of the golden syrup with molasses, and that gave the dough a lovely, dark brown colour. I also reduced the white sugar by half. I made the dough on one night and then refrigerated it overnight. The resulting dough was hard as a brick and needed a couple of hours to soften a bit. I have to say rolling out the dough to the correct thickness (2 – 3mm) was not so easy because of just how hard the dough was (not sure if reducing the white sugar had anything to do with it). The recipe comes with a template that I printed out and placed over my rolled dough.
Making the individual parts was a lot of work: I divided the dough into quarters and rolled out each quarter to trace out all the big house pieces (the two side walls, front and back wall and the two roof panels). Re-rolling the trimmings was cumbersome because the dough did not stick together properly and kept breaking apart. Any cracks in the dough had to be fixed by ‘pinching’ the cracks together with my fingers before baking. I had read in another recipe that it was better to keep the cut-out doors and windows in the dough during baking as it helped to retain the shape of the house. So I did this with the first attempt, and the baked pieces looked beautiful when I took them out of the oven.
Unfortunately though, when we tried to remove the baked doors and windows, the pieces cracked!
So on to attempt 2: I made the dough using half of the white sugar, but this time I used the entire amount of golden syrup. I also added half a teaspoon of mixed spice because I thought the dough needed more flavour. I cut out the doors and windows and actually removed them from the pieces before baking. They were fine when baked, not perfect but shabby chic perfect! I liked the idea of using boiled sweets for the windows as the recipe suggests, but unfortunately, I could not find any in the shops near where I live.
Once the pieces were cooled, my husband set to work sticking the pieces together with icing. He added a bit of water to the icing mixture because it was too thick and he lightly grated the sides of the house to get it even before putting them together.
Overall, it was a lot of work, but the result was beautiful and worth it! The kids had a fun evening sticking sweets onto the house and were asking whether they could eat the house at the end. We decided not to ….there is so much sugar!!..and instead placed it as a showpiece on our bookshelf and gave the kids a couple of candies to enjoy.
I think we might have started a new yearly family tradition!