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For the royal icing:
You can use these measurements for your cardboard templates:
- Two 13cm x 19cm rectangles (roof)
- Two 11.5cm x 16cm rectangles (side walls)
- Two 16cm x 19cm rectangles (front and back) – each trimmed at one short end form two 10cm high gables.
To make the gingerbread dough:
- Gather your ingredients and cut out cardboard templates for the roof and walls.
- Sift together the flour, cinnamon, ginger and salt. In a stand mixer, whisk together the melted shortening, sugar and molasses. Add the egg and mix until combined. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the dry ingredients. Mix on medium speed until a smooth ball starts to form; do not over mix.
- Transfer the dough onto parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Roll the dough out to ½cm thick. Try to make the thickness of the dough as even as possible so it will cook evenly. Freeze the dough for 20 minutes; this will make it easier to cut out the shapes needed.
- Preheat the oven to 150˚C/130˚C fan/gas mark 2.
- Cut shapes out using your templates. Any excess dough can be used to re-roll out and make more shapes. Bake for 50-60 minutes until very firm. Remove from the oven and allow to cool fully. Your gingerbread pieces are now ready to be assembled.
For the royal icing:In the bowl of the stand mixer with the whisk attached, combine the egg whites, icing sugar and cream of tartar. Mix on low to get the ingredients combined, then turn to high for 1-2 minutes. There’s no need to mix for longer than five minutes in total. Place the royal icing into a bowl or container with a lid. This is supposed to be quite thick, and can be thinned down to the consistency you desire.
- Place some of the royal icing into a piping bag and cut off the end to make a small hole. Pipe a line on the sides of the front and back pieces, right along the edges. Don’t be skimpy with your icing – it's meant to be fun and a bit messy!
- Attach the side wall, placing the joined walls on a flat surface. Attach the other side wall, then the back. Wipe off any excess royal on the outside if desired, but the inside should have lots. Allow the four walls to dry for one hour before adding the roof.
- To attach the roof, pipe some royal icing along the top edge of one side of the house then add the first part of the roof. Pipe more icing along the opposite side of the house and along the edge of the first piece of roof, and add the final piece of the roof. We recommend allowing this to dry overnight before you start adding sweets and decorations so that it’s rock solid.
To decorate:To decorate our gingerbread house, we used a combination of a bunch of sweets such as M&Ms, smarties, jellies and chocolate buttons. You can use whatever sweets you like, just mix and match and have fun! Use the royal icing to attach the candy to the gingerbread house, then allow to dry overnight. If you like, you could also add food colouring to your royal icing. Candy canes are a great addition to gingerbread houses, and edible glitter is always fun. You can also place a battery-operated tea light inside the house and turn it on in the evenings!
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