* Make sure to cool the dough for half an hour before cutting. This will make the pieces easier to cut.
* Make sure to cut out each piece on baking parchment. This means you won’t have to lift each piece once cut, distorting the shape. Dust your dough surface with flour so that when you lay your template on it doesn’t stick.
* Cut your pieces with a pizza cutter. Better than a knife as it won’t drag your dough and distort the shape
* When your pieces come out of the oven they will be warm. Lay your template over the top and re-cut using the pizza cutter. Gingerbread always spreads. This way your pieces will line up and be easier to assemble. It’s at this point that I cut out the holes in my roof sections ready to thread through later with ribbon.
* Stick your sweets on before you assemble your house. This way they won’t slide off.
* You can use royal Icing (this is icing sugar with egg white. It dries really hard and is great for construction) to stick your house together. If so, use tins and boxes to keep them propped up until your house dries. I like to use caramel as it sticks instantly. However it can be hot to handle. And once you place you piece together there’s no changing it
Caramel (for sticking your house together)
200g white caster sugar
1/8 teaspoons cream of tartar or 2 teaspoons lemon juice
I like to use a wide saucepan to make my caramel. This way I can dip each side into the pan and assemble immediately
Place sugar, water and cream of tartar/lemon juice into the saucepan. Don’t touch. Don’t stir. Or the mixture will crystallise. Place over a medium high heat. Once the sugar stars to brown turn onto a low heat. At this point swirl the pan rather than using a spoon to stir.
When the mixture comes to the boil, reduce the heat and watch the caramel brown. Watch for dark streaks. If so remove from the heat. The syrup will continue to cook even when taken off the heat. Aim for a medium amber colour.
Take your decorated pieces, make sure you know which side your are dipping and place on your board or plate. I often like to mark out the position on the board with a dab of icing sugar. So that when it comes to placing the piece down I know exactly where it should be. I like to start with one of the sides and build out from there. Assemble the sides and then the roof. I assemble one side of the roof. Then thread through the ribbon on one side. Then I bring over the second roof section, thread through the ribbon first. (but not tying in bows) and then stick down the second roof section. By this time you won't be able to dip the roof in your pan, so using a spoon I drizzle the caramel over the sides and then hold in place, being careful not to stick the ribbons down too
When it comes to giving the finishing touches, nothing beats a good swirl of icing sugar to conceal all your joins, I tend to use one star nozzle, it works brilliantly for creating star edges as well as swirls
I tie the ribbons at the very end, once the icing has had time to dry a little. If there's room, we love to add sprinkled pathways and iced Christmas trees to set the scene.
Enjoy making your houses