An easy Christmas gingerbread house recipe from Life Resort Da Nang, Vietnam
The essentials A cut-out ‘pattern’ for shaping your dough (use cardboard) One recipe of gingerbread dough About 4-5 consecutive batches of icing Baking tray (non stick OR with non stick paper) Aluminium foil Butter for greasing the tray(NOT melted, NOT hard. Room temperature) Plain flour Rolling pin (or a wine bottle with the label removed) Knife and spatula Wire racks for cooling A base to build your house on. (can be wood, plywood or gingerbread) Wood, or softdrink cans, or beer cans etc to prop up the house while the icing ‘dries’ • Piping bags and nozzles, or grease-proof paper • Lollies/candy/sweet treats to decorate your house with. • Cellophane for wrapping it up in. Clear cellophane looks pretty good • You need 2 days minimum to make the house – so the icing can dry as you build it. Bake the gingerbread house parts first up to a week or two ahead. Allow a day or two to assemble. Doing it in 2 or 3 attempts is great.
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The gingerbread dough A mixer (like Kitchenaid, Kenwood etc with bowl & paddle) will make life easier, but it’s not essential Beat together: 225g Soft butter (about 1 cup) 280g white sugar (about 1.25 cups) 350g cups brown sugar (about 1.75 cups) Then add: 60g molasses (30ml or about 2tbsp) 6 eggs (60g each) The dry stuff. Sift it together a few times first, then mix into the wet stuff above 11g bicarbonate soda (about 2 tsp) 10g ground ginger powder (about 1.5 tbsp) 9g ground cinnamon (about 1 tbsp) 10g allspice (about 1 tbsp)
750g plain or all-purpose flour (about 6 cups)
Directions for making the dough Cover your baking tray with foil. Grease the foil with butter then shake some flour over it. Shake off excess flour that doesn’t stick. (you can also use a non stick tray, or a ‘silpat’ silicone mat, or silicone paper)
1. Cream both sugars and the butter. (ie – beat them well with the paddle until
smooth and creamy, OR mix hard and fast with a wooden spoon in a bowl.)
2. Beat in the molasses and the eggs. (add the eggs one by one) 3. Sift the dry ingredients a few times to mix well together and remove the lumps.
Add into the sugar-butter-molasses and egg mix, and beat (or knead) at low to medium speed into a smooth ball.
4. Cover and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour. 5. Pre-heat the (normal) oven to around 160 °C (320°F).
If using a fan forced or commercial combi oven, reduce temperature by 10°C or 25°F 6. Split the dough into 4 pieces
7. Roll the dough to about ½ cm or ¼ inch thick. (Keep it cold. Don’t do when it’s
warm, or on a hot surface. Keep it firm and hard – it’s easier to handle)
8. Put the pattern pieces on top, and cut the dough out with a knife or palette
9. Lift with palette knives, spatula or cake slices, keeping it flat as possible. Place
onto the greased, floured baking tray
10. Bake for 15 minutes to 20 minutes
11. Use the leftover dough to make small Xmas trees, or gingerbread men, or cookies, or fences, or whatever your creativity and confidence dictates Windows, doors and other features: Use a square cutter or a knife to cut out windows and doors. Bake these pieces also. Bake the door whole. Cut the windows in half, and you can ‘glue’ them on with icing as window shutters. You can fill the empty cut out window holes with smashed up life-savers and it makes sexy little stained glass windows.
This icing dries to be rock hard, and it’s also edible. You will use it to glue the house together & to patch up, cover or hide mistakes or breakages. It looks like snow, so you can make icicles, a snowy roof, ‘ground cover snow’ or little snow men.
• 4 egg whites • 7g cream of tartar (about 2 tsp) • 450g icing sugar (about 4.5 cups)
It’s better to use a mixing machine with a whisk attachment – but you CAN use a whisk if you have a strong arm and some determination Whisk the egg whites at high speed until they get foamy. Add cream of tartar and continue to beat until the eggwhites are stiff and can form peaks. Whisk in the icing sugar bit by bit until it is all used up. Keep beating for a few minutes until it looks thick and smooth enough to spread. Keep this icing in a bowl, and cover with cling wrap pressed onto the icing itself (do not allow any contact with air, or it will dry out and get lumpy) It’s best to make the icing as you need it, and you’ll need a few batches, so have enough ingredients on hand to make extra.
Building your dream home
Get your base ready.
This can be a flat piece of gingerbread, if you want it to be totally edible. (make more dough) Or you can also use a piece of wood, plywood or anything flat and disposable. If using something non edible like wood, wrap it in foil before ‘building’ Ice the 14cm sides of the front and back with the snow icing. (use a piping bag or a knife) Ice the 14cm side of the two walls. Join them together in the shape of a house. They WILL fall down until they start to dry – so you need to prop them into place using things from around the house. Canned food, bits of wood, beer cans, books – any of these will be fine. You’ll need several hours to dry them together. Overnight is better.
Join the bottom of the house on to your base with the icing.
Ice the bottom of your house generously, or ice the base 14 x 22cm rectangle and put the house onto the base. (This will be a rectangle matching the dimensions of the 2 walls, and the base of the front and back panels)
Add a roof
Ice the tops of the walls, and the angled sides of the front and back. Be very generous with the icing. You’ll need some props and a little patience. Position the two roof panels so they meet at the top. They should be sitting on top of all the icing along the tops of the walls and front/back panels. Hold in place, and support them with your props (cans, wood, books etc) so they don’t fall or move until fully dried. You’ll need to dry them solid, so allow 4-5 hours for this in a dry area. While this is happening you can attach the doors and windows. The door will be supported by the base, so just ice the side and hold it for a few minutes against the opening, so the door is open. The windows should be cut in half before you baked them, so they will be light and easy to attaché like open ‘shutters’. Again, ice along the sides like ‘hinges’ and hold in place for 4-5 minutes until they can stay there by themselves Decoration: Go wild. Splatter or paint icing on the top. Make a pattern, write a greeting, or splotch onto the roof and top with your favourite lollies or candy. The lollies will stick on without any fuss. Make it as elaborate as you like. The whole house is edible. When dry, wrap it in cellophane to protect from flies, insects, mice etc. Nothing will spoil – lollies, gingerbread will last for a while – but keep in a non-humid environment. Making a week or two before Christmas is ideal and give as gifts or for the kids to pull apart. No need to do a house either. You can do a famous building or landmark building, your house, whatever. The pattern takes all the time – once that is done, and all the sides, roof and bases fit, the rest is easy. We’ll be giving them away as table centre-pieces for our Christmas Eve dinner. Always a hit. We’d love your comments, feedback and questions. Show us photos of your creation too. We love to inspire and we’d be thrilled to see your houses too. How?
Join us on twitter @LifeDanang (and look at our gingerbread pagoda) or join us on facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Life-Resort-Da-Nang/352206701640
Best regards & Christmas greetings from Chef Shane, Chef Coi, Chef Lam and the whole kitchen team at Life resort Da Nang