How to Make a Festive Hansel and Gretel Gingerbread House
Gingerbread has a long history, dating back to the times of the ancient Greeks and Egyptians. With the term originally referring to preserved ginger and then later coming to mean a confection made with honey and spices; it has undergone many changes to become the delicious food stuff of today.
It’s not just the rich, gingery goodness of gingerbread that makes it popular, but it is so versatile and nothing can give festive spirit on limited funds quite like gingerbread goodies. You could simply make gingerbread shapes and ice them, but this Hansel and Gretel style cottage is pure edible goodness and looks rather magical.
Hansel and Gretel Gingerbread Cottage
For the gingerbread
250g unsalted butter
200g dark muscovado sugar
7 tbsp golden syrup
600g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 tsp ground ginger
1 quantity of Royal Icing for decorating
1 quantity of Royal Icing for bonding the walls
A generous selection of sweets of your choice
Chocolate buttons (white and milk)
A dipped chocolate flake
Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.
In a heavy Pan melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup. Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger into a large bowl, then stir in the melted butter mixture to form a stiff dough. Chill the dough.
Cut out the template (see picture). On a floured work surface roll out half of the dough to the thickness of two £1 coins. Cut out one of the sections, then slide the gingerbread carefully onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, re-rolling the trimmings, until you have two side walls, a front and back wall and two roof panels.
Bake all the sections for 12 mins or until firm and just a little coloured at the edges. Leave to cool for a few minutes until firm and then trim around the templates again to give clean, sharp edges. Leave to cool completely.
Fill a piping bag with Royal Icing and pipe generous seams of icing onto the edges and construct the cottage walls using a small bowl to support the walls from the inside, and then allow to set for a few hours.
Once dry, remove the bowl and fix the roof panels on. Allow the cottage to set completely, ideally overnight.
Now comes the fun part: the decorating. Using the icing, stick sweets around the door and on the front of the house and pipe windows.
Pipe a wavy line of icing along the bottom edge of the roof and stick a row of white chocolate buttons. Pipe a row of buttons above the white buttons and stick on a row of milk chocolate buttons. Repeat the layering until the roof is covered.
To make the icicles, start with the nozzle at a 90-degree angle to the roof and squeeze out a pea-sized blob of icing. Keeping the pressure on, pull the nozzle down and then off – the icing will pull away, leaving a pointy icicle trail.
Cut the dipped Flake on an angle, and then fix with icing to make a chimney. Pipe a little icing around the top.
Dust the roof with icing sugar for a snowy effect and above all have fun decorating.
Your gingerbread house will be edible for about a week but will last a lot longer but will not be of optimum eating quality after a week, but let’s be honest it will be hard not to start nibbling at the cottage on the day it is made.
This is pleasurable to make, especially when it comes to the decoration part, so have fun, but remember to watch out for witches that offer you a good food and comfortable beds!