This year, I am afraid the Christmas season came too early. My cake decorating equipment is still on a ship, being sent from Cape Town to Europe. I would have loved to teach you how to bake, cut, shape and assemble this little house by giving you a template or two. Definitely next year!
In the meantime, here is my Ouma’s ginger cookie recipe. I’ve adjusted it a bit, so that it will be able to bake a bit harder and don’t crumble easily.
Probably the most important tip that I can give you is to bake the dough as one big flat sheet in the oven. As soon as you remove it from the oven, cut the cake into house panels immediately. Allow then to cool off completely.
I know there will be some offcuts not being able to use on the house, but this way, the house has straight edges with no cookie dough that misshaped due to spread.
* I used my heart cookie cutter, and plunged out a few hearts or stars from the excess dough.
This recipe would make one house with measurements 15L x 20H x 10W.
To make the royal icing, get my recipe at the bottom of the page.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 20 - 25 minutes
Makes: 50 - 70 small cookies or 1 x Gingerbread House
225g unsalted butter, cubed
150g firmly packed brown sugar
250g molasses (unsulphured) / golden syrup
625g cake / AP flour, sifted
1½ tsp. baking soda
3 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
125ml / 1 1/2 cup ice cold water
In an electrical mixer bowl. Cream butter and brown sugar with the beater until well incorporated. Add molasses or syrup and blend at low speed until it forms a soft mixture.
Sift in the dry ingredients such as the flour, baking soda, spices and salt . Mix again well until dry and crumbly.
Add the ice water a small amount at a time to the mixture ensuring that the mixture becomes easier to handle.
Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Shape into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap. Chill for 2 hours in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Roll out the cookie dough onto a baking-paper -lined sheet pan. I rolled out mine to around 0.5 cm thick.
Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until it starts to get brown on the edges and feel firm to the touch.
Remove the pan from the oven and with a sharp knife, start to cut the house panels. Allow the cake to cool down completely before removing it from the pan.
From my original recipe, I removed the eggs as it makes the cookie too soft and construction therefore difficult.
By replacing eggs with a water part, will ensure evaporation of moisture by the end of the bake, making the cookie hard enough to dry out sufficiently.
Cookies will bake and be soft on the inside, but after removed from the oven firm up as the sugar cools and moisture espaces from the cookie crumb.
How to make Royal Icing:
1 Large Egg White (33g)
375ml Icing Sugar (1 1/2 cup)
2ml Lemon Juice (1/4 tsp)
In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg white to a soft foam.
Sift icing sugar over the egg, small amounts at a time.
By using an electrical beater, mix all the ingredients well. By adding more icing sugar than suggested, will make the icing too stiff, and breaking the icing when piped.
I always start with a 1 cup icing sugar to 1 egg ratio. This will form a spreadable consistency for cookies.
To get the icing to piping consistency, use 1 egg to 1 1/4 or 1 1/2 cup icing sugar.
For stiff peak or to shape figurines, use 1 egg to 2 cup icing sugar ratio.