There is a whole range of different recipes for gingerbread houses and it is best to choose a recipe from your own country to ensure you will be able to get hold of all the ingredients. This recipe is Norwegian, but adapted to British users. Have a look at the links page for other recipes or do a search for a suitable one on the Internet.

The following recipe is for one basic house with some extra dough for making figures like trees and people. If you are aiming to make my big gingerbread mansion you will need at least 2 batches of this dough, possibly 3 depending on how thick you roll the dough. If you are making a big house do not attempt to make all the dough in one go unless you freeze some of it; you will not be able to roll and bake all the dough in one day. Alternatively, find an extra pair of hands for this job. If you are making a big house at home with one oven using 3-4 baking sheets, doing the job alone will take you many, many hours. Don’t let this put you off though, just realise that you will need to start well in time for Christmas and do it over several days whilst looking forward to the more creative part of the work: decorating the house!

The dough:

400 g golden syrup
200 g sugar
100 g butter (not margarine)
4 eggs
4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground pepper
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoon baking powder
1000g (1 kg) white strong flour

How to make the dough:

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat, take away from the heat and add sugar and syrup. Stir to melt the sugar, reheat if necessary but be careful not to boil.
Cool to lukewarm. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl, add to the saucepan. Stir well.
Have 2/3 of the flour in a container and add all the spices and the baking powder. Stir well. Pour the content of the saucepan into a large bowl and add the flour mix in portions while stirring well between each adding. Use your hands to mix when the dough gets thicker.

The dough should not be sticky when finished, add some of the remaining flour if necessary. Set the rest of the flour aside, you will need it when rolling out the dough. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and put each piece in a plastic bag and seal well. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 12 hours. The dough can be kept in the fridge for up till 2 days before baking. You can also freeze the dough for up to 3 months. Thaw in fridge for at least 12 hours before use.

How to roll the dough:

Keep the dough refrigerated until you are ready to use it, and take out one piece at the time. Work on a lightly floured surface and with lightly floured hands, knead dough until it’s smooth but not sticky. Add more flour if necessary. Start with rolling out the dough on your work surface, making sure it gets evenly rolled. The dough should be about 3-4 mm thick for the larger pieces and 2-3 mm for small pieces. Transfer the piece of dough to a baking sheet with greaseproof paper. If necessary, use the rolling pin to even out the dough or make it a bit thinner.

Lay the pieces of pattern on the dough. Make sure the dough is large enough for the pieces and that the dough is in the right position. You cannot move the dough after you have cut out the pieces. Use a sharp knife to cut out the pieces following the pattern carefully. Remove scraps and reserve for re-rolling. Make as many pieces as there is room for on the sheet allowing at least 1 cm between all pieces. It would be useful to have several extra baking sheets when doing this work, so you have some in the oven, some cooling and some you work on – saving time.

How to bake the dough:

Fill a baking sheet with pieces of same thickness, the largest pieces might need a separate tray each. Bake in the middle of the oven on 200 degrees Celsius, gas mark 6 for 10-15 min depending on thickness. Have a quick look several times when baking the first batch, bake until golden brown and firm to touch. Remove baking sheet from oven and set aside to cool for 5 min, while you check that the pieces has held their shape when baking. If you need to do any trimming do it while the dough is warm, straight out of the oven. Do not move the pieces until they have cooled. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. The pieces need to dry for several days or up to a week before decorating, and after a few hours of cooling you can carefully stack all the pieces on a tray, for easy storage. Make sure to make layers of same thickness. The pieces must be stored on a dry, safe place unwrapped or just covered by a clean tea-towel.