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Gingerbread House

Extract from Cookies • By Peggy Porschen • Published by Quadrille


$ $ $ $ $
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Posted by Quadrille Published See Quadrille's 56 projects »

© 2023 Peggy Porschen / Quadrille · Reproduced with permission. · Cookies by Peggy Porschen (Quadrille, £6.99) Photography: Georgia Glynn Smith
  • Step 1

    Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas mark 6.
    Place the water, brown sugar, treacle, golden syrup, ground ginger, cinnamon and cloves in a deep saucepan. Bring the mixture to the boil over a medium heat, stirring continuously.

  • Step 2

    Remove from the heat and gradually add the diced butter. Stir until combined. Add the bicarbonate of soda – take care as the mixture will swell up. Leave to cool to room temperature.

  • Step 3

    Once cool, transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Sift in the flour and slowly mix together to form a slightly wet and sticky dough. Wrap in cling film and chill for 2 hours, or until cool and firm.

  • Step 4

    Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and briefly knead. Roll out the dough until it is about 5mm thick and cut it into the 6 pieces that make up the townhouse – 2 for the front and back (8 x 10cm), 2 for the sides (8 x 6cm) and 2 for the roof (10 x 7cm).
    Chill again for at least 30 minutes. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until they spring back to the touch and the edges are slightly darkened. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

  • Step 5

    Prepare your paper piping bags and then make your royal icing. Place the icing sugar, lemon juice (if using) and three-quarters of the egg white or Meri-White in the clean and grease-free bowl of an electric mixer.

  • Step 6

    Mix on the lowest speed until well combined. You may want to cover the mixing bowl with a cloth to prevent the icing sugar from going everywhere. If the mixture looks too dry, add more egg white or Meri-White. The icing should look smooth, but not wet.

  • Step 7

    Scrape down the sides of the bowl after about 2 minutes to make sure the icing is well combined. If it still looks too dry and grainy along the edges, add a little more liquid. If it looks slightly runny and glossy, add a little icing sugar to adjust the consistency.

  • Step 8

    Continue mixing on the lowest speed for 4–5 minutes, taking care to not overwork or over-aerate the mixture. The royal icing is ready when stiff peaks appear around the sides of the bowl and has a smooth and satin-like texture.
    Transfer the royal icing to a clean bowl and cover with a damp cloth. The icing can be stored for up to 1 week at room temperature if covered with lid or cling film; or in the refrigerator if using fresh egg whites.

  • Step 9

    Adjust the consistency of half of the white royal icing to soft-peak. Dip the palette knife in water and mix it until the icing looks a little glossy. It should form peaks that fall over. Keep the icing in a bowl covered with a damp cloth
    to prevent it from drying out.

  • Step 10

    Next, stencil your cookies. Place the stencil on the surface of the cookie, holding it down at one end to prevent it from moving. Use a palette knife to scoop up a small amount of soft-peak icing and spread a thin layer over the stencil, ensuring that all gaps are covered. Carefully lift off the stencil and leave the iced cookie to dry. Repeat for the remaining cookies, cleaning the stencil between each use. Should the design look untidy you can clean it up with the tip of a small knife. Repeat for the remaining house shapes.

  • Step 11

    Assemble the house once the cookies have dried. Prepare a paper piping bag and fill it with the white stiff-peak icing. Lay the house pieces out with the designs facing down as if you were to unfold the 4 house walls. Cut a small section
    from the tip of the bag and pipe a thick line of royal icing along the vertical edges of the house front and back, then stick them together with the side wall pieces supporting them with your hands until they stand securely on their own. Let the walls set for at least 15 minutes. Pipe another thick line along the top edges
    of the side walls and stick the 2 roof pieces on top. Where they meet pipe some more icing and hold them in place until they stop sliding down. Let the house dry for at least 30 minutes.

  • Step 12

    Cut a larger hole at the tip of the piping bag and pipe a snailtrail line over the edges of the house – in addition to adding a decorative element, this helps to hide the joints and any royal icing that may have run out when sticking the pieces together.

    TIP – If you don’t have stencils, you can pipe on the details of your house with soft-peak royal icing.

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