Show off by making your own Gingerbread house

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Prove your baking worth by assembling your own gingerbread house...

Christmas ginger bread house
Mince pies? Pah! You could make them in your sleep. Chocolate log? Forget it - piece of, well, cake!

If you're looking or a challenge - have a go at making your own gingerbread house. Don't worry, the clever folks at Cakeadoodledo have made it easy for you with their simple recipe...

Gingerbread house

Ingredients

For the house:
675 g/1 lb 7 oz plain flour (plus extra for dusting)
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
175 g/6 oz unsalted butter
225 g/8 oz soft light brown sugar
6 tbsp golden syrup
1 large free-range egg
Sweets, to decorate

For the royal icing:
250 g/9 oz icing sugar, sifted
1 large free-range egg white
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Method

First, get cracking on your gingerbread. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it in until you have a texture resembling fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and mix well.

Warm a bowl (put it in the microwave or run it under hot water for a bit), put the syrup and egg into the warmed bowl and mix together (it's much easier in a warmer bowl!)

Put the wet mixture onto the dry mixture and mix to form a soft, smooth dough by hand.

Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for at least 1 hour (2 hours would be better and overnight better still).

Meanwhile, make the royal icing. Tip the sifted icing sugar into a very large bowl (freestanding mixer with a paddle attachment even better).

Add the egg white and lemon juice and beat for at least 5 minutes. You may need to add a little cold water, if the mix is too dry and crumbly, but add the water very slowly.

Conversely if the mixture is too loose, add more icing sugar. After about 5 minutes of beating you should have a thick, very white meringue type mixture that holds its peak. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until needed.

Line baking sheets with silicone paper. Cut out templates for your house. Make two sides walls, which are 16 x 13 cm/4 x 5 in, two gable end walls, which are 16 x 13cm/4 x 5 in rising to a point in the centre of 23 cm/9 in, and finally, two roof pieces, which are 20.5 x 15.5 cm/8 x 6 in.

Roll the chilled dough out on a floured work surface to a thickness of about 5 mm/¼ in and cut round the templates.

Lay the pieces onto the prepared baking sheets and chill for another hour. This stops the pieces from spreading during cooking.

Cut out any cookie shapes with the spare dough at this stage too (or freeze the rest of the dough for another day).

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

Bake the gingerbread for 8-­10 minutes, or until golden brown.

As soon as they are out of the oven, put those templates on top of the hot pieces pronto and cut round the outline to make sure you have really sharp edges. You need to do this before the gingerbread cools down and crisps up. Get moving!

When they have firmed up, leave to cool completely on wire racks.

If you are piping decorations onto the house - you can do this before the house is assembled. However if you are going for the mass of sweets look - wait until after you have built the house.

Put some of the royal icing into a piping bag and pipe the windows, roof tiles, doors or whatever your heart desires all over the outside of the house. Then leave them to dry overnight.

The next day, you can handle your flat pack house without smudging all your piping. Pipe a good thick line of royal icing down the edges of the back of the house and stick on the 2 sides. You may need an extra pair of hands here, or prop the walls against kitchen utensils, jars, cans, etc.

Then add the front wall and finally the roof panels. Royal icing is your cement and may be used liberally. It is snow, after all.

Add sweets, edible baubles and any other intricacies that appeal.

Makes a great gift or demolish at will.

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