Extracted from GINGERBREAD by Heather Whinney (£15, Lorenz Books).
Winter Chalet Gingerbread House
This is quite an enterprise to put together but the result is a stunning snowy Swedish-style mountain cottage
Two quantities of gingerbread dough of your choice
A little plain flour for dusting, if needed
500g royal icing
A handful of desiccated/shredded dried coconut
Piping bag fitted with a small nozzle (No 1 or No 2)
An empty 400g can or jar, washed
Display board or plate
Decorative mini pine trees (optional)
1. Make the gingerbread dough of your choice. Roll out the chilled dough on sheets of baking parchment to about 5mm thickness, lightly dusting the rolling pin with flour if needed.
2. Lay the winter chalet templates out on to the dough and neatly cut out as many pieces as you can. Gather and re-roll the excess dough and continue to cut out more shapes as needed.
3. Transfer the baking parchment with the gingerbread cut-outs to baking sheet(s) and chill for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan/350ºF/ Gas 4.
4. Bake for 10–15 minutes, or longer for larger pieces, until golden (it needs to be fairly crisp so it is strong). Remove from the oven, leave for five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack(s) to cool.
5. Put the icing in the piping bag and pipe a scalloped pattern on to the roof panels, and decorate the sides, front and back pieces. Leave to set.
6. Assemble the chimney pieces, piping with icing to glue the sides together, then leave to set in a cool place. When it’s firm enough to handle, pipe on a fallen snow effect around the top, and leave to set.
7. To assemble, pipe generous amounts of icing along the edges of the front piece and a side piece and apply gentle pressure to stick them together at right angles. Next, ice and stick the other side piece to the front, holding it together until firm. Finally, attach the back piece to the two sides. It should all stay up by itself now, but you can prop the sides up with a can or jar while it sets. You now have a roofless house. Leave it to set in a cool place for a couple of hours until it feels secure, then remove the can or jar.
8. To attach the roof, pipe generous lines of icing along the edges of one of the roof panels and the edges of the side panel and front, and attach, holding it until it feels secure. Pipe with icing and attach the remaining panel and squeeze the top of the roof together so it fits snugly. Pipe more icing along the top of the roof piece and edges if needed. This is the cement that will hold it in place, so be fairly liberal with it.
9. Leave to set in a cool place until it is solid, then pipe plenty of icing on the base of the chimney and fix it firmly to the side of the roof, and leave to set completely. Sprinkle with desiccated coconut ‘snow’, and arrange decorative mini pine trees to set the scene.
Tip: It is a good idea to assemble and decorate the house directly on the display board or plate, to avoid moving it around.