Gingerbread House

  • 175g (6oz) butter

  • 175g(6oz) soft dark brown sugar

  • 3 tablespoons golden syrup

  • 700g (1½lb) plain flour

  • 1½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

  • 3½ teaspoons ground ginger

  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice

  • 150ml (¼pt) milk

  • 3 egg yolks, beaten

      For the decoration:

  • A very large cake board or tray lined with kitchen foil

  • Royal icing

  • Coloured sweets

  • 2 tea lights and imagination

      Also needed:

  • Stiff card

  • Ruler

  • Baking parchment

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Line three large baking trays with parchment paper. In a saucepan, melt the golden syrup, butter and sugar over a gentle heat. Remove from the heat and cool. Sift the flour, soda and spices into a large bowl and make a well. Pour in the melted mixture, milk and beaten egg yolks. Knead to a soft, smooth dough. Divide the warm mixture into three.

Roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper on each baking tray until you have a thickness of just under 1cm. Lift away the top sheet of paper. Leave the rolled-out dough on the bottom sheet of paper and cut round the templates until you have rolled and cut out all the pieces that are required. Lift away excess dough and re-roll if required.

Bake for about 10 minutes until golden. While still hot, place templates on the hot biscuit and check the shape. Cut around the template to remove any dough that has spread, if necessary. Once the biscuit has cooled it will become hard and brittle, so work while it is still warm. Leave the shapes to cool and become completely firm (overnight) on the baking trays, then peel away the paper.

To assemble, take the four walls and pipe royal icing along the base and side edges. Stand them together on a tray and leave to dry for at least two hours or overnight, if possible. Stick on roof pieces with royal icing, and leave to dry and firm. Stick on the doors and shutters, and make the chimney from the four pieces. Decorate the roof and shutters with piped royal icing and let the children finish off the house with icing and sweets.

Use as a glowing festive centre-piece with the tea lights placed inside.

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