Christmas would not be complete in our house without a gingerbread house, I’ve been decorating them every year since the children were tots. I have to confess I have never made the gingerbread, I’ve always bought it flat-packed from Ikea!! I did once make a gingerbread Noah’s Ark for Helens birthday, but I’m not sure it would have held together for as long as I expect the Christmas houses to.
This is the first year I’ve not been making them to order, my busiest year I made about 18, covered in smarties and cake decorations, hard work but it helped pay for Christmas! A few years ago I started doing a ‘grown-up’ gingerbread house, just decorated with white icing, I think they’re prettier than the sweetie ones.
This year I nearly didn’t have one as I couldn’t get over to Ikea, then my friend spotted one at Morrisons for £5. It’s chunkier, softer gingerbread, feels like it might taste nicer than the Ikea one which is very biscuity.
I learnt a long time ago to decorate the walls first, before assembling it, it is so much easier to make a neat job when its flat on a board, when the children wanted to help they could do a side each. I used a thin layer of icing over the board which also helps to anchor it.
I always decorate with royal icing made from fresh egg white, I add a little lemon juice to give a bit of strength for the suspended icing. They are surprisingly easy to do, it’s a matter of working fast and ensuring there’s some icing for it to anchor to.
I find that the icing doesn’t have to be perfect as it’s the overall effect that is seen, I’ve got wobbley lines, patched up lines, I can never do two curves symmetrically, but it doesn’t matter, there’s that much going on that no one notices…
Ikea also do gingerbread hearts and stars, they cost about £1 for 10, they are great decorated and hung on the tree, they smell wonderful, children like them with their names on. Next year I shall get myself organised and get over there…
Hope you have a great Christmas x