This Christmas try some festive bakes. This delicious gingerbread creation will go down a treat with friends and family and you could even win a hamper if you enter a picture into the Cotley Christmas Bake Off!
For the gingerbread house:
375g/13oz unsalted butter
300g/10½oz dark muscovado sugar
150g/5½oz golden syrup
900g/2lb plain flour
1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp ground ginger
For the icing
3 free-range egg whites
675g/1½lb icing sugar, sifted
3 tsp lemon juice
15 yellow or orange boiled sweets
1 x 30cm/12in square cake board
200g/7oz giant milk chocolate buttons
6 cocktail sticks
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6 (fan 180C).
2. Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a large pan and gently heat until melted.
3. Next, sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger together in a large bowl and make a well in the centre in which pour the melted butter, sugar and golden syrup. Stir well, and when cool enough, knead with your hands to a stiff dough.
4. Split the dough into the five pieces, in which cut one of these pieces in half. With each of the six piece, roll each on a greaseproof sheet to 3/4cm thickness. Using the templates, cut out the roof, sides, front and back of the house. Place onto baking trays lined with baking parchments (probably three baking trays)
5. Use a ruler and a circular object, cut out the arched windows on the front and sides of the house. Using a star cutter, cut a star in the front and back of the house. Cut out the door on the front and back of the house, using a knife, and the place the doors separately on the baking trays.
6. Using the left over dough, roll it out and cut out the chimney pieces, three Christmas trees and three little triangles which will be used to stand the trees upright. Bake the gingerbread for 7-8 minutes.
7. Whilst the gingerbread is cooking, crush the boiled sweets in a pestle and mortar (or in a strong bowl with a rolling pin)
8. Take the gingerbread out of the over. Cut the windows to size if the biscuit has spread, and sprinkle the boiled sweets into the holes. Return to the oven and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the sweets have melted. Leave to cool completely.
9. Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until frothy. Using a hand-held electric mixer on a slow speed or by hand using a wooden spoon, add the icing sugar a little at a time. Stir in the lemon juice and beat until very stiff and stand in peaks.
10. Spoon the icing into a piping bag with a medium plain nozzle. Pipe a little icing on the back of the chocolate button and stick, to create a tile roof, by overlapping the buttons. Once this is completed, use the icing to pipe around the windows and doors and be as creative as you want! Spoon six tbsps of the icing onto the cake board and spread using a knife or palette knife.
11. Pipe icing along the wall edges to join the house together and stick onto the iced cake board. Leak the icing to dry (preferably overnight)
12. Cut the pointed ends of the cocktail sticks to 1cm pieces (12 spikey ends in total). Push the blunt end into the sloping edges of the front and back of the house, leaving the pointed ends sticking out. Pipe icing along the top of the house between the cocktail sticks and fix the two roof panels on the house. Pipe icing along the chimney edges and attach to the roof.
13. Decorate your Christmas trees and ice one length of your triangle and stick to the back of the tree to give it support. Decorate the rest of your house however you want it to be decorated and sprinkle with icing sugar to give a very Christmassy and festive look!