Christmas Gingerbread Houses

gingerbread houses for christmas star front door smartie roof

What could be more Christmassy than the warm spice of gingerbread, sugared with crunchy royal icing and adorned with yummy sweets?

I’d not made a gingerbread house before and decided that was my challenge for this festive season! Using the recipe from BBC good food and tips from Kirstie Allsopp’s version over on C4.

For the construction itself I actually varied the BBC template slightly – their house was quite tall and church-like, I wanted mine to be more of a snow-covered family home. I printed off their templates and trimmed accordingly, making sure the sides that needed to match up and join were the same size as each other.

gingerbread house templates roof side wall front back

After refrigerating the dough for a good half an hour, I rolled it out directly onto the greaseproof baking sheet and cut around the templates. Doing it straight on the sheet means not picking up or moving the pieces, which can easily break them.

gingerbread house rolling out pin paper templates greaseproof baking sheet christmas

gingerbread house pieces dough ready to bake roof side walls end

It took the pieces about 15 minutes to bake in our fan oven, I wanted them quite firm as construction was going to be tricky enough as it was! The recipes recommended using the paper templates to re-trim the pieces into shape after cooking incase they’d spread slightly. Perhaps not so wisely I chose to skip this step as I wanted a ‘rustic’ look to my house… it did make things a little tricky when it came to piecing them together!

I took a great tip from Kirstie Allsopp – to decorate the pieces and let them set over night before assembly. This means piping onto a flat surface and makes it much easier to get the shapes and patterns you want – without trying to do them on sides when it is assembled. The icing is a simple mix of 2 egg whites and 500g of icing sugar, and sets really hard so perfect for the decorations and assembly. It keeps really well in an air-tight container in the fridge so you don’t have to do everything in one go.

For the roof pieces I used a cocktail stick to mark out the pattern for the smarties on a roof top, before gluing them on with generous blobs of royal icing.

marking holes on gingerbread house roof for icing with sweets smarties

gingerbread house roofs ideas decorated with chocolate beans smarties sweets royal icing

Next step – a great time freehand decorating the walls and windows, and plenty of snowy decor!

royal icing piping design close up detail gingerbread house window christmas

gingerbread house vines and plants piping front door christmas baking royal icing

I put the finished pieces aside and left them to dry overnight.

christmas gingerbread house pieces ready to assemble decorate with white royal icing

Next day, when it came to assembly, I’m not going to lie – it was tricky! Pieces sliding all over the place (perhaps something to do with my impatience to get it together). The great thing is the icing doesn’t need to be neat – it all adds to the snowy effect – and nobody is going to know what the joins look like from the inside! I actually employed a spare pair of hands to keep the pieces together while it started to set:

gingerbread house assembly with white royal icing holding up with hands

Rather a lot more icing later and the house was together!

christmas gingerbread house with smarties roof and white royal icing piping

I used the spare royal icing to try to pretty up the joins a little, with snow mounds, and a little added sparkle from some edible glitter.

christmas gingerbread house royal icing piping detail edible glitter chocolate bean roof smarties

You might have noticed some extra pieces in a few of the photos – I had some spare dough after making the big house that I used to make a super-cute teeny tiny version as well.

christmas gingerbread houses back view windows roof beams trailing plants smarties white royal icing

Did you know cats like gingerbread too?And a lot!

grey tabby cat eating christmas gingerbread house festive baking

I was lucky enough to be over in Hamburg, Germany last week, and was determined to find a gingerbread house to see how mine compared. We went to the biggest Christmas market in the city – Rathausmarkt, at the town hall.

hamburg weihnachtsmarkt christmas market rathaus markt2012 germany decorations

With a mulled wine or two to stave off the sub-zero temperatures, I was disappointed to find absolutely no gingerbread houses. What is Christmas coming too! The closest things came were these (very pretty but expensive) china decorations:

gingerbread house christmas decorations hamburg weihnachts markt

And some hand-decorated gingerbread hearts (reading ‘Happy Christmas’ for the non-German speakers reading!)

gingerbread iced hearts hanging decorations frohe weihnacht hamburg rathausmarkt christmas markets

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13 thoughts on “Christmas Gingerbread Houses

    • Thankyou, I will go and take a look at yours 🙂
      It was much harder than I thought it would be… surprisingly there are no photos of the stages where icing was sliding everywhere, and the inside… well, lets just say it was well cemented by the time I’d finished!

      • Haha, I was surprised that they missed out a photo of the part where, after hours of holding the pieces together with books, you try to move the finished article and it all falls apart…

      • I think there was just one step in my instructions “stick the pieces together”!
        My biggest problem was impatience – I put the roof on before the sides were dry and the whole thing just kind of caved in… at least it still tasted good!

      • To be honest I was just marvelling at how much more patient you must have been than me! Having seen the results of your perseverance though, I will be having another go next year (I can’t afford the stress again this year), and I will use your post as a guide 🙂

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