Gingerbread is my thing. It's a tradition I started when my baby was one and no Christmas would be Christmas without a gingerbread house!
It's a labour of love that is smashed like a pinata on Christmas afternoon. The recipe below is construction grade which means there is no levening in it (no eggs, baking powder or soda). It's perfectly edible but it is rock hard. I also load mine with heaps of ginger and spice to boost the aroma. Use a bit less if you actually want to eat it.
There are a lot of great templates at this site:
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 TBSP ground cinnamon
3 TBSP ground ginger
2 TBSP mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup glucose syrup
1/2 cup molasses
1/4C warm water
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Sift together dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, ginger, and salt) in a large bowl, set aside. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add glucose syrup and molasses to sugar mixture, slowly, until thoroughly mixed.
Add warm water – add slowly to get the right consistency. You may need more or less—the mixture should come together but still be a bit crumbly. You can add dry ingredients to mixer and knead with a dough hook, or transfer wet ingredients to large bowl of dry ingredients and knead for 10 minutes. Leave dough in the bowl and cover with a bees wax wrap for 1 hour to rest. This dough will keep for a week at room temperature or a month in the refrigerator, although it is best when used same day.
4 egg whites
3 (ish) cups of icing sugar
Pinch of cream of tartar
Beat egg whites until stiff then add icing sugar half a cup at a time. Do not add a single drop of water or any liquid!!!!!! Mixture should be stiff but do not overbeat otherwise it will be grainy. This mix is used as the concrete for construction*. You cannot use it for piping yet.
For piping, follow the 15-second rule. Add water drop by drop until the consistency allows you to dollop a blob of icing back into the bowl and it will totally disappear in 15 seconds. For flooding, add more water, drop by drop until the consistency allows to you drop a blob of icing back into the bowl and it disappears in 10 seconds.
Most gingerbread construction failures are from not getting this consistency right and also doing to too fast. Each wall needs to set in place (use glasses and jars as props) before placing the roof and chimney on.
Use cookie cutters to cut out decorative windows. Smash isomalt or sugar-free candies and place into the windows before baking. Isomalt is better than sugar which weeps and melts in a Kiwi summer. You can buy isomalt from: