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how to make a gingerbread christmas cottage

How To Make A Christmas Gingerbread Cottage

Aimee Field
Just in time for the countdown to Christmas, I break down how to make a Christmas gingerbread cottage! It's delicious, beautiful and so FUN!
Prep Time 3 mins
Cook Time 59 mins
Setting Time 2 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 2 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine British
Servings 1 Cottage

Ingredients
  

Gingerbread

  • 700 g plain flour
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 4 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 200 g unsalted butter chilled & cubed
  • 350 g soft light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 105 ml golden syrup

Royal Icing

  • 525 g icing sugar (or royal icing sugar)
  • 2 large egg whites (or if using royal icing sugar, approx. 75ml water)

Decorations

  • 180 g mini shredded wheat cereals
  • 4 gelatine leaves/sheets
  • 16 pretzel sticks
  • assorted sprinkles holly, berries, snowflakes
  • icing sugar for dusting

Instructions
 

  • For the gingerbread: Place the flour, bicarb, ginger, cinnamon into a very large bowl. Then rub in the cold cubed butter using your hands until it resembles breadcrumbs. Then whisk in the sugar until combined. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs and golden syrup together and then pour into the dry mixture. Using a silicone spatula mix the wet ingredients in with the breadcrumb mixture until it clumps together. Tip out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead into two balls, flatten into discs, wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 15 minutes to firm up.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas Mark 4 and line three baking trays with baking paper.
  • Dust your work surface lightly with flour, and then roll out one disc at a time using a rolling pin. Using the template (linked in the notes section) cut out all the pieces needed, and place onto your prepared baking trays with space between - keep the front pieces together on one tray, the roof & side pieces together on another tray and the porch & chimney pieces together on a final tray. Then chill for at least 15 minutes. Bake the front pieces for 20 minutes, the roof & side pieces for 22 minutes and the porch & chimney pieces for 17 minutes - or until all are a deep golden brown. Place all the pieces onto cooling racks and leave to cool completely - can be done overnight, but place them into air-tight containers first.
  • To make the royal icing: In a large bowl, pour in the icing sugar (or royal icing sugar if using) and add the two egg whites (or water, if using royal icing sugar). Whisk together using a manual whisk until it is a smooth, and very stiff paste. Place 3/4 of the icing into one piping bag, and cut off the end to make a medium size hole. Then place the remaining 1/4 into another piping bag, and cut off the end to make a small hole.
  • To decorate the gingerbread pieces: For the thatched roof, take one of the roof pieces and starting at the bottom (the longest side), begin piping royal icing (from the bigger bag) onto a mini shredded wheat cereal and sticking onto the gingerbread roof piece. Continue along the row until the end, and then begin a new row on top, placing the cereals so they're slightly overlapping the row below. Try to alternate the placing of the cereals too, so the joins aren't all in a straight line down (like how bricks/tiles are laid). Continue this till the entire roof is covered, and then repeat the process on the remaining roof piece. Then set aside to dry and set.
  • Next take the front porch piece, and using the royal icing from the smaller bag, pipe a small circle for your wreath. Then add holly & berry sprinkles on top, using the royal icing as glue. Repeat the same process for the back door, this time using the snowflake sprinkles instead. Set both aside to set.
  • For the windows, take the front and back pieces and lay them down, so the 'inside' of the cottage is facing up. Pipe royal icing (from the bigger bag) around the edges of the window holes and then place the gelatine leaves/sheets down using the royal icing to help glue them into place - these are your 'glass' windows. Then turn the front and back pieces over so the 'outside' of the cottage is now facing up, and press down slightly to help the gelatine leaves/sheets stick. Then, using the royal icing from the smaller bag, pipe two thin lines on either side of each window, and press in two pretzel sticks on either side to act as 'window shutters'. Then set aside to set.
  • Finally, using the royal icing from the smaller bag and your remaining sprinkles, decorate the sides of the cottage. Then set aside to set.
  • To assemble: The first step is to 'glue' together one of the sides of the cottage and the front piece of the cottage. Do this by piping a thick line of royal icing (from the bigger bag) down one of the pieces, and holding them together for about a minute until it feels more stable. You can then place a tin or a jar 'inside' the cottage, to give it some support while you then pipe another line on the inside and outside at the join.
    Then add the back of the cottage. Again, pipe a thick line down the side of the back piece and then secure against the exposed side piece. You can add another can or jar inside if you want to give this corner some more support as well. And then pipe another line on the inside and outside at the join. (Remember to make sure you are glueing the pieces the right side around - so you don't end up with your beautifully decorated pieces 'inside' the cottage.)
    Then add in the final side piece, piping a thick line down both exposed edges of the back and front of the cottage. Again, pipe another line on the inside and outside of both joins and then leave to set for at least one hour.
  • Meanwhile, assemble the chimney by piping a thin line of royal icing down the sides of each piece and sticking together - starting with the two sides first, as above. Then set aside to dry and set. For the porch, stick together one of the sides and the front first (like above). Then attach the remaining side and leave to set for 20 minutes. Then attach the roof, by piping royal icing on the top of the exposed sides and front - then leave to set until needed.
  • Then add the roof, by piping a thick line (from the bigger bag) on all the exposed edges at the top of the side, front and back pieces. Then attach one of the roof pieces (choose your best one, as this will be the front!), resting it on top of the front piece and pressing it into the royal icing so it sticks. Hold it there for a few minutes, before moving onto the final roof piece. Pipe some more royal icing at the top of the roof piece already attached to the cottage, then place it on carefully, pressing it into the royal icing so it sticks. Again, hold it there for a few minutes. At this point, if you can see any gaps between any of the joins, pipe royal icing into them to fill. Finally, using more royal icing attach the chimney onto the roof, and the porch onto the front piece of the cottage. Then leave to dry and set for at least an hour.
  • Finally, dust with icing sugar to create snow, and add any further decorations you like!

Notes

Download the Christmas gingerbread cottage template here
Gingerbread pieces can be made a day in advance, and kept in an air-tight container until ready to use.
 
Keyword christmas, gingerbread, royal icing