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Gingerbread house party

This past Sunday was the 3rd Advent and it rained and rained and rained. Quite unusual to have so much rain in Sydney at this time of the year but on the other hand the best weather for staying indoors and bake and make gingerbread houses. It's a beloved Christmas tradition in Germany to bake (well, if you're pressed for time you can buy them already made as a gingerbread house kit. I saw them at IKEA the other day.) and decorate the house with smaller Lebkuchen (gingerbread) and anything that you can think of. Years ago I bought a gingerbread house mould from Chefs Tool Box. The mould guarantees that all sides are even and makes assembling the house an easy task but you'll need a lot of royal icing to stick it all together. Don't make the icing too runny or it will take too long to set. I always stick sugar cubes inside the corners to make sure the walls are standing upright and prevent them from going lopsided. My daughter and her friends were adamant to decorate the houses themselves and the three of them got quickly very busy and sticky ;-). It was so much fun to watch them but I was also very much looking forward to a nice glass of wine in the evening. However, when the evening came the rain stopped, at least for a little while, and we got invited to join in to a pre-Christmas street fete. It was beautiful to share a merry moment with some lovely neighbours and everyone enjoyed themselves including the kids scooting up and down the pathway.

In Germany gingerbread (Lebkuchen) is made in two forms: a soft form used for cookies, slices and cake and a harder form, particularly associated with carnivals and street markets such as the Christmas markets (I really miss those markets) that occur in many German towns. The hard gingerbread is used for shapes, which are then further decorated with sweets and icing. The German-style Gingerbread is often used to build Lebkuchen Haeuser similar to the "witch's house" in the German fairy tale Hansel and Gretel. These houses are popular Christmas decorations everywhere in Germany and often built by children with the help of their parents.

This recipe makes one house and gives you a bit extra.

125 g brown sugar
a pinch salt
300 g treacle
1 tablespoon ground ginger
180 g butter, softened
500 g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
2. Beat sugar, salt and treacle, ginger and butter in a large mixer until combined and lighter in colour.
3. Add flour and bicarb soda and whisk until mixture forms a thick dough.
4. Place on lightly floured workbench and flatten with you hands. Press dough into mould.
5. Place mould on baking tray and bake for 20-30 minutes or until firm to touch (dough will crisp up once cooled).
6. Cool before removing from mould.

Use royal icing to assemble the house. I am sure your kids will love to help decorating the house with candies and Christmas cookies.


Anonymous said...

Hi Kristin

I have the same Chefs Toolbox Gingerbread House mould as you. Could you please explain further what you mean by using sugar cubes to keep the walls upright? It sounds like a handy tip to know!

Thank you,


Kristin said...

Hi Terri,

sorry for my late reply, just got back from my holidays. I use sugar cubes to secure the corners while building the house. Stack the cubes inside the corner of the house and stick together with icing sugar. Let set and then place walls against it, that way they don't fall. You can also use a tin. Hope that helps.
Cheers, Kristin