Have I mentioned that I love ginger? I’m so excited to share this post, because it was one of the hardest yet most fun bakes I’ve done in a while. And totally naughty – not one little thing about it is healthy, and I love that.
I’ve always wanted to make a gingerbread house, but from scratch. None of this shop bought kit nonsense (although looking back, definitely the more sensible option)! And I thought this Christmas would be the perfect time.
I’m not at home for Christmas Day, so had an early ‘pretend’ Christmas weekend with all the family, and knew that this would be warmly welcomed by their bellies. My niece has also just turned 3, and I thought that she would absolutely love the ‘fun’ element to this rather than a standard bake.
So, I got designing.
I wanted to construct 3 mini gingerbread houses, each different styles, into a little grotto village, perched upon a large chocolate cake. (I was going to do a sticky ginger caramel cake, but one of my brothers isn’t a fan of ginger)
It turned out slightly different than I had planned – I didn’t have a tin as big as I wanted for the cake which meant my templates for the gingerbread were slightly too big for the tin I did have.
Nevertheless, I trooped on; spending 4/5 hours baking and decorating one extremely light and fluffy chocolate sponge and 15 individual pieces of gingerbread.
I was super impressed with my sponge – I used the same recipe I would use to make a Victoria Sandwich style cake, but baked it in one 20 x 20 tin at 160 fan for around 35-40minutes. It came out super light and springy, and had a delicate chocolatey taste which balanced perfectly with the gingerbread and the white chocolate snow topping.
Recipe for 1 large Chocolate Sponge Cake
Preheat the oven to 160 Fan and grease a 20 x 20 tin
In a food processor, add 200g self raising flour, 15g cocoa powder, 15g corn flour, 225g caster sugar, 225g unsalted butter, 4 large eggs and 1 tbsp baking powder
Process this for around 1 minute, or until all the ingredients are combined and the mixture is starting to look soft
Now pulse the mixture (quickly turn the processor on and off) whilst adding milk. The amount varies, but it is usually around 2-3 tbsp. You’re looking for an airy, thick liquid mixture
Pour the mixture into the tin and place in the centre of the oven for around 20-25 minutes. At this point, the cake should have risen well and be starting to turn golden,but will still be wobbly / soft to touch in the centre. Cover with a sheet of tin foil and allow to cook for the rest of the time, or until it has come away from the sides and springs back when pressed
Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack
Whilst the cake is cooking, you should start preparing your gingerbread dough – I didn’t do this and it just added unnecessary time to the process. *no, I wasn’t up until 2 am baking…*
The gingerbread dough is really easy to make, and even easier to nibble on. Gingerbread gives you abs, right?
I’ve adapted the recipe I used because I had over half of it left over, which is now sitting in the freezer waiting to be turned into gingerbread dough ice-cream. Tastes as good as it sounds *dribble*
Recipe for 2 Gingerbread Houses + 3 men
Preheat the oven to 180 Fan and prepare a 3 pieces of baking parchment / grease proof paper to sit over a baking tray
In the food processor, blend together 250g plain flour and 150g cold unsalted butter until it resembles fine crumbs and there are no more lumps of butter
In a large mixing bowl, mix together 250g plain flour, 1/2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda 2 tbsp ground ginger and 1 tbsp mixed spice
Pour the butter and flour mixture into flour and spice mixture and combine thoroughly, before stirring in 225g dark muscovado sugar. Make sure there are no lumps.
In a separate bowl, whisk together 2 medium eggs and 120g golden syrup, until golden and frothy – this should take around 3 minutes on a medium-high whisk speed
Stir into the flour mixture to create a dough, kneading with your hands to ensure everything is properly combined.
Take a third of the dough and roll it out on the baking parchment until it is between 1cm and 2cm thickness
Slide the baking parchment onto the tray and cook in the oven for around 10 minutes or until golden brown and firm. They will have expanded in the oven because of the egg, this is fine! Simply place the template over them when out the oven and tidy up the edges
Repeat until all of your gingerbread is cooked
*Anddddd, a big sigh of relief*
Whilst your gingerbread is cooling, melt 360g white chocolate in a pan over a low heat – stirring continuously. Once melted and glossy, pour over your chocolate cake. This can be rough and doesn’t have to cover every inch of the cake – it’s meant to create a snow kissed looked! I had intended on sprinkling with desiccated coconut too, but we didn’t have any, so I opted for marshmallows instead – leaving space for the houses’ construction.
I also made a cute little path out of Galaxy Salted Caramel pieces.
By this point, your first set of gingerbread should be completely cooled so it’s time to decorate. You can be as creative as you want; pipe icing around the windows and doors, stick sweets and chocolate on for decoration, anything!
I used Matchsticks to create a house made of sticks (because my niece loves The Three Little Pigs at the moment) and white chocolate buttons to give the other roof a tiled effect. I also piped icing on the front and back of the houses, sticking marshmallows on too.
The white icing used to glue everything down adds to the winter snow look, so go wild with it!
If you’re thinking about making this or something similar, I would recommend doing it over two days. This way, all your decoration can set and won’t be damaged when constructing, and it’s just less stress for you!
When it comes to construction, give yourself plenty of time and find props and extra hands to hold everything up whilst the icing sets.
First, mark on the cake the edges of the sides, front and back of the houses, so that you know where everything needs to go. Then, starting with the sides, ice the bottom and ‘glue’ them to the cake. Once dry, pipe icing onto their ends and to the front and back of the houses where they are going to meet and ‘glue’ these together. Leave these to set whilst you compose your other house.
The roof will need to be held in place for around 10 minutes, because gravity will take over and you’ll end up with a pile of bricks. The icing needs to be piped along the sides where it touches the supporting walls, and along the top where it meets the other roof.
Stick with it. I was screaming, grunting, huffing, puffing, scowling, and being very passive aggressive to anyone who tried to help, but it’s worth it… right?
Dust with a little icing sugar, serve it to your family, and cry as they break it all down.