Mini gingerbread houses

Everyone can decorate their own gingerbread house this Christmas, with Sarah Cook’s cute mini versions.

Method

  • Put about half the flour in a food processor with the butter and whizz until you can’t see any lumps of butter remaining. Mix the remaining flour, spices and bicarb together with a pinch of salt. Tip both the floury mixtures into your largest mixing bowl and stir in the sugar. (If you don’t have a food processor, rub the butter into all of the flour until it resembles fine crumbs. Then stir in the spices, bicarb and sugar.) Whisk the eggs with the golden syrup and stir into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon. Using your hands, knead together into a smooth dough.
  • Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Roll a quarter of the dough out at a time on a sheet of baking parchment, to the thickness of 2 x £1 coins. Use a small, sharp knife to cut around the house templates – remember that each time you’ll need 2 x A, 2 x B and 2 x C for one house. Remove trimmings and lift the gingerbread, on its parchment, onto baking trays. Re-roll trimmings to cut out all the shapes you need.
  • Bake the gingerbread one tray at a time on a high shelf in the oven for 8-10 mins, until a lovely, rich brown and firm to the touch. As soon as each tray is baked, carefully sit the templates back onto the relevant shapes and trim any edges to neaten (see step 1). Use a cutter to stamp out any windows or cut away any doors with a small, sharp knife. Let all the biscuits cool completely.
  • Sieve the royal icing sugar into a bowl and stir in dribbles of water until you have a stiff icing. Spoon some into a food bag (cover the rest), snip the tiniest bit off the corner and pipe any icing decorations you want onto the gingerbread. Leave to dry.
  • Arrange the wall biscuits as you are going to assemble them, then pipe icing along the side edges (see step 2) and stick the walls together. Pipe extra icing where the walls join each other on the inside of the house, and support the sides using your icing balls (see step 3). Leave for a few hrs until set.
  • Once dry, stick on the roofs, as above – you may need to hold the biscuits on firmly for a few mins until the icing starts to set – or shape your icing balls to support the edges of the roof. Set overnight, then use any remaining royal icing to help you decorate your houses with sweets and sprinkles.

Ingredients

  • 1kg plain flour , plus a little extra for dusting
  • 300g cold butter , diced
  • 2 tbsp mixed spice
  • 2 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 450g light soft brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 225g golden syrup
  • 300g royal icing sugar
  • few ping-pong-size balls of regal icing , wrapped in cling film