Begin by mixing the flour with the rest of the dry ingredients (except the brown sugar) in a large mixing bowl.
In a stand mixer, beat the softened butter with the sugar.
Gradually add the eggs (one at a time), while continuing to mix.
Pour in the golden syrup slowly, while mixing. *
Once the wet ingredients are thoroughly combined, gradually add the dry ingredients while continuing to mix the batter.
Once you've obtained a smooth dough, separate it into a few manageable pieces then cover and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.
While the dough is resting in the fridge, I prepared my royal icing by beating the egg whites till light and foamy and then gradually adding in the lemon juice and sifted icing sugar until soft and creamy. **
Once the dough is rested, it's time to roll out all the pieces. Begin by laying a piece of flour-dusted parchment paper down and roll the dough out to around 1/2cm thickness. Any thinner and it may break when assembling the house.
Place your templates over the rolled out dough. Using either a scalpel blade or sharp knife, start to cut the different gingerbread house pieces. ***
Once I cut out the main front and back wall pieces and textured them, I then cut out the windows and door. This can be done the other way around if you're worried about messing up the pattern. I laid out my template pieces over the wall and cut the windows out according to them. ****
Finally, I prepare any 'extra' bits that I want like windowsills and any trimmings and then it's time to bake.
Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes and leave to cool down completely - this is better on the slightly overcooked side than undercooked since it will make it sturdier. *****
Once all the pieces are cooked and completely cooled down, it’s time to assemble your Christmas gingerbread house. This is the most fun part, although it does also require a lot of patience! Start by assembling the walls. ******
I started by piping the icing along the base and pressing my first wall into it. You'll need to hold this for a while as the icing hardens. However, once it's a bit more stable, you can then use some tricks to help hold it up. One trick is to use glasses to hold the wall in place. Make sure you don't let go of it until you're sure the wall is secured.
The same process goes for the rest of the house. Run a thick line of icing down the side of the wall and along the base. Press the next piece into it and wait for it to dry. Continue like this till all four walls are assembled and sturdy.
If you want to add 'glass effect' windows, you can use sheets of gelatin for a similar effect and stick it down with some icing. *******
Before adding the final wall, make sure to add the extra elements you would like inside the house. I added a mini Christmas tree with fairy lights. This won't be an issue if you're not glueing your entire house to a base. If there are any imperfections don't worry, that is what the royal icing 'snow' is going to help us cover. My roof wasn't perfectly aligned, for example, but you can barely tell after decorating.
Now it's time for decorating! If you're doing this as a family project, then this is where people can let their creative side loose. I wanted a relatively simple design and just addes a wreath, icicng snow and some powdered sugar snow. However, feel free to go crazy sticking on candy and other elements that you want.
Finally, add any 'outdoor; elements that you want to your display, like trees, reindeer, snow (confectioners sugar works well) etc. And voila you have the best Christmas gingerbread house!
* You can do this with a manual whisk too, but it will take a lot of muscle power and time.** You can leave yours plain; however, if you want something more exciting, feel free to add in some mint or lemon extract.*** Although it's not necessary-, if you want to texture the building, then you can use textured sheets or recreate the look with a knife.**** There are two ways you can do this. Either have a baking paper template of the entire wall with the windows cut out. You can then trace the inside lines of the window. Alternatively, cut out single 'window' sections of the paper template and trace around them.I also decided to texture the door differently. However, once baking, I wasn't happy with the results, so this isn't necessary. Instead, you can bake an extra 'door' cookie (pictures below) that is textured, to stick over the wall.Note * I made two of all my trimmings and the door - just in case one broke. ***** The roof pieces, which were simply rectangles, may slightly expand or warp in the oven. Don't panic though as this can be fixed with the decorating and you won't be able to see any unevenness.****** I decided to build my house onto a large cardboard piece so that I could stick the pieces directly to the base. If you want to be able to move your gingerbread house around then, you can skip this and start by glueing two walls together.******* For a slightly more complicated 'stained glass' method, you can use butterscotch candy or various coloured crushed hard candy. Once the walls are baked, place it over a new clean layer of parchment paper or tinfoil. Take your crushed candy and pour some into the window hole, in the design you'd like. Put the wall back into the oven for 3-5 minutes till the candy is completely melted. Remove this from the oven and leave the candy to completely harden again, before removing it from the parchment paper/tinfoil.