Thursday, 22 December 2011

Snowy Christmas Gingerbread Houses

‘Only 3 more sleeps’ I was reminded this morning….gulp! I think I’m nearly ready. I’ve been rushing around like a crazy lady over the last few days so I should be ready, although I have spent rather a long time on these gingerbread houses, when I should probably have been packing and wrapping.  Prioritising has never been one of my strong points!

Not only is gingerbread very Christmassy and delicious, it can keep kids occupied for ages, mixing the dough and cutting out shapes, what more could you ask for. 

If you are short of time then just go for simple shapes like stars, but if you really want to go to town then make these houses with boiled sweet windows and lots of icing for snow. Oscar and I had so much fun with this recipe, if you love Christmas and enjoy cooking then these are for you. 

This should make about 10 houses and a few other, smaller shapes.

125g butter, at room temperature
110g soft brown sugar
1 egg yolk
375g plain flour
175g golden syrup
3tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
10 barley sugars or boiled sweets
150g icing sugar

Heat the oven to 180°C.  Grease a baking sheet.

1. Mix together the butter, sugar and egg yolk until smooth.  If you use an electric hand mixer take care not to cover yourself in butter and sugar as I did! Yes…hair and all! 

2. Sift in about half of the flour and add about half of the golden syrup.  Mix well to combine then add the rest of the flour and golden syrup along with the bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon.  Knead it together to form a smooth dough.

3. Roll out the dough between 2 large sheets of baking parchment until it is about ½ cm thick.  Do this in a couple of batches. 

4. Remove the top sheet of baking parchment, cut out your shapes and remove the unwanted dough from in between (if your dough is a little sticky then use a sharp knife to scrape it away.  The gingerbread will expand a little as it cooks so leave room between each shape.

5. Put the whole sheet of baking parchment onto the baking tray (if you can’t fit the whole sheet on just cut around the biscuits and put them on individually). If you have cut out windows, smash up the barley sugars using a rolling pin and put a chunk into each window – it will melt in the oven to make a lovely window.  Put the tray into the oven for 10 - 15 minutes or until the gingerbread shapes are light, golden brown.  Remove from the oven and cool.

6. To make the icing, mix a little water with the icing sugar to make a smooth paste, test a little by dribbling it off a spoon to make sure it is the right consistency to pipe with (add more water or more icing sugar until you are happy with it).  If you don’t have a piping bag with a very small nozzle, put the icing in a plastic freezer bag and cut off a tiny corner to pipe through, it works perfectly.

Oscar LOVES these, he keeps asking for ‘Mummy’s biscuits’ - 5/5. 

Now I must go and wrap!  Have a very Merry Christmas. x

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