Mini Gingerbread Houses
These little houses are just beautiful. Use to decorate your Christmas cake, give as gifts or use as table place settings. I just love them. No fancy cutters, templates or kits all you need is a square cutter. I used a 2 inch cutter (5 cm) but the size is up to you.
In a roomy saucepan place the sugar, syrup and butter and melt over a low heat, stirring regularly. In a mixing bowl sift together the flour, salt, soda and spices then stir in the orange zest. Make a well in the centre and when the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved pour the liquid into the bowl of dry ingredients.
Using a wooden spoon or spatula stir well and when cool enough to handle knead the dough into a ball.
The dough is very dry and may seem crumbly but this is important because you don’t want the gingerbread to spread during baking.
Take two large pieces of plastic (I use the same pieces over and over again) and roll the dough between. This ensures no extra flour is used and the dough doesn’t stick to the worktop. Roll as thinly as you can – you want delicate little houses !
Cut out as many squares as you can then remove the rough edges – to be re-rolled. Chill the squares for 15-20 minutes and then they will be easier to handle.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c (190 fan) and take a baking sheet lined with non stick baking parchment. You need 6 squares per house. Take the first square and roll lightly to make it slightly bigger than the rest (this will be the base). Place onto the baking sheet. Take the second square and cut it from corner to corner (these will be the gable ends of the house), take the third and fourth squares and cut these in half horizontally (these will be the walls). The final two squares will form the roof.
Bake for 5 minutes then remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet as the shapes are very fragile when soft.
To make the royal icing – whisk the egg white until frothy then add the icing sugar little by little until you have a smooth, shiny, thick icing. Lemon juice or water can be added if the icing it too thick. You may want to divide your icing and colour half of it brown so that the icing for joining together your house pieces doesn’t show.
Use the smallest nozzle (a hole about the size of a pin head) and enjoy decorating your house sections before attempting to assemble.
Take the base piece and fix first one end piece then the two walls then the fourth end piece. Allow to set before then mounting the gable ends. Fill with sweets if desired then finish off with the roof pieces. Decorate the roof then dust with an icing sugar snow storm !
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