175g soft dark brown sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup
700g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Zest and juice (about 50ml) of 1 orange
2 medium free-range eggs
For the decoration
500g box royal icing sugar, made up according to packet instructions.
Your choice of sweets for the presents and rock piles.
- For the gingerbread, put the butter, brown sugar and golden syrup into a pan over a very low heat, stirring until the butter and sugar have melted. Set aside to cool.
- Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and orange zest in a big bowl. Crack the eggs into another bowl.
- Add the butter mixture to the flour along with the eggs and orange juice. Mix well, then use your hands to bring together into a ball. Sprinkle a little flour over a clean work surface and knead the dough for a few minutes until smooth.
- Preheat the oven to 200°c/fan180°c/gas 6. Divide the dough into 3 pieces (about 400g each) and roll out on 3 sheets of baking paper until it’s about the same thickness as a £1 coin.
- Cut out the different pieces (you may need to re-roll your trimmings) to construct the house, then transfer the gingerbread shapes, still on their baking paper, to 3 baking sheets.
- Transfer the gingerbread sheets to the oven and bake for 9 minutes. Check to see if it is cooked. You may need to bake for 1 more minute. Take the tray out of the oven and carefully slide the gingerbread (still on the baking paper) onto a cooling rack. If the gingerbread has spread, you may need to trim the pieces while still warm to give straight edges. Cool.
- Once cold, put the gingerbread in an airtight tin and leave overnight until really crisp – if you decorate the house with icing too soon, the dough may go soft and the house will not be very stable.