Kitchen Capers

Build Your Own Gingerbread House

by Farah Photography FriedChillies on Tue, December 18, 2012

This Christmas, get into the festive mood by making your own gingerbread house but instead of using just cookies, why not make life easier and contstruct it using cake instead? It's so much simpler and a lot more yummier.

Make a gingerbread house that actually tastes good!

Constructing a gingerbread house from scratch can be a daunting task. Especially when you have to bake and cut out the cookie shapes individually. At FC, we love to simplify things so we decided to build the house using mostly cake. This not only lessen your baking time but it also resulted in a sturdier structure. Now you can rest easy whenever a chubby finger gets curious and start to poke it for fun because the house will actually stay intact even after the merciless prodding.

But of course, the best part about making this house is you get to eat it afterwards. Not only does it look good but the cake actually tastes great. Packed with mixed spices and sandwiched together with chocolate butter cream frosting, The cake has a moist and dense texture and the cookies have a gorgeous hint of ginger and plenty of crunch. Their sweet aromatic flavours are perfect for invoking festive cheer at your Yuletide party.

You do have to bake your cake and cookies a day in advance to give them enough time to cool. This will make them easier to work with. It does take a little effort so to make things more interesting, get your kids involved. They will enjoy cutting out the cookies and maybe you can even turn it into a fun family tradition you do every Christmas.

We've split the recipe into 2 parts to help you arrange your time better. The first part is baking the components while the second part is the actual assembly process.

Part 1 : Baking


Have fun cutting out the gingerbread cookies with your kids.

To make the shutters, windows, trimmings and door, we used gingerbread cookies. You need to prepare this first because you will have to chill the batter for a few hours before using it. Chilling the batter will make it easier for you to cut out the shapes later.

Gingerbread Cookies

Prep Time : 20 mins
Cook Time : 15 mins
Makes enough for embellishments ( door, shutters, windows and trimmings )
Dough needs to refrigerated for easy handling

Ingredients

¾ Cups Packed Dark Brown Sugar
¼ Cup Unsalted Butter
½ Cup Molasses
½ Tbs Ground Cinnamon
½ Tbs Ground Ginger
¼ Tsp Coarse Salt
¾ Cups Milk
½ Tbs Baking Powder
3 ½ Cups All Purpose Flour

Method
1.Combine brown sugar, molasses, butter, spices and salt in a medium saucepan over a low heat, stirring using a wooden spoon until sugar is dissolved, about 10 mins. Stir in milk. Remove from heat and leave to cool.

2.Mix milk mixture with flour and baking powder. Beat using a mixer until well combined.

3.Divide dough in half, shape into disks and refrigerate overnight.

4.Thaw for about 10 minutes before cutting out the shapes.

5.For the shingles, use 1-inch cookies cutters, cut out about 50 pieces, for the borders on the bottom of the houses, cut 3 long bars 9-inch in length, then cut out a door and windows big enough for the front part of the house. For the roof trimmings, cut 4 long bars 4.5 -inch in length.

6.Bake at 170°C for 15 mins.

The main structure of the house is made up of cake. It's better to bake it a day in advance so it cools completely before you frost and assemble it.

Gingerbread Cake


Make sure cake is completely cooled before you start frosting it.

Prep : 20 mins
Bake : 40 mins
Makes two 9-inch cakes

Ingredients

10 Tbs Unsalted Butter
3 ¾ Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 ½ Tsp Baking Soda
1 ½ Cups Boiling Water
4 Tsp Ground Ginger
2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
¾ Tsp Mixed Spice
¾ Tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tbs Baking Powder
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 ½ Cup Molasses
4 Large Eggs, at room temperature

Method:

1.Preheat oven to 170°C. Butter two 9-inch square pans and line with parchment paper.

2.Stir together baking soda with boiling water. In a bowl, whisk together flour, spices, salt and baking powder.

3.Cream butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Add molasses and eggs, continue beating until creamy.

4.Add flour mixture a little at a time, alternating with the baking soda mixture. Beat until all the ingredients are incorporated. Mix on high speed till everything is well combined.

5.Divide batter into 2 and place them in the baking pans. Bake for 35 mins then insert cake tester in the middle to check if it’s cooked. Bake for further 5 mins if it isn’t.

6.Once baked, leave to cool completely before you start frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream


Beat all the ingredients until buttercream is smooth and creamy.

Prep Time : 15 Mins
Cook Time : 15 Mins
Makes 5 ½ Cups

Ingredients

6 oz Semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 ½ Cup Sugar
6 Large Egg Whites
1 ½ Cup Butter
½ Cup Vegetable Shortening
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Method

1.Melt chocolate using a microwave or the double boiler method.

2.Combine sugar and egg whites in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, whisk until sugar is dissolved, about 5 mins.

3.Transfer to a mixing bowl and beat using whisk attachment for 10 minutes until stiff peaks are formed.

4.Switch to paddle attachment. Add butter, a little at a time. Add in vegetable shortening. Beat until ingredients are well combined. Reduce speed to low, add vanilla and melted chocolate. Beat a further 5 minutes until mixture is smooth.


Part 2: Assembling the House


Cut one of the cake in half. Sandwich them together and slather with frosting.

Cut one of the cake in half, then sandwiched the halves together with buttercream frosting. Slather frosting all over cake. Chill for 30 mins to let the frosting set.


Your house is starting to take shape now.

Cut the other cake diagonally across on both sides to get 4 equal sized triangles. Place 3 of the triangles on top of the previously frosted cakes. Sandwich them together using frosting. Cover entire cake with frosting. Chill in fridge for a further 30 mins to set the frosting.


Start embellishing your house with the cookies.

Use a cake comb to make lines on the side of the house, place cookie shingles on top of the roof. Use extra frosting to help the shingles to stick to the roof.


Add details to windows and door with sprinkles and royal icing.

With your extra cake piece, cut a doorway shape, then paste the door on it using frosting. To create details for the windows, door and roof of the house, use royal icing to create a snowy effect. You have to move quickly with royal icing because it will start to set as soon as it is exposed to air.

Royal Icing

Prep : 10 mins
Makes about 2 Cups

Ingredients

1 Pound of Confectioner’s Sugar
¼ Cup plus 1 tbs meringue powder
½ Cup water

Method

1.Beat ingredients on a low speed with a mixer until fluffy. This will take about 8 minutes. Use immediately. Royal icing will harden when exposed to air. Stir well with a spatula before using.



Pipe on more snowy details using royal icing, add in a couple of miniature trees and your gingerbread house is ready for display!

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