Makes an 8 ” x 4 ” (20cm x 10cm) house.
Icing cooling time: at least 2 hours (it is better to prepare it a day in advance – see Note).
Cake cooling time: 1 hour. Cooling time for the gingerbread dough: at least 2 hours.
- For the spice blend, mix all the spices together. Leftover spice blend can be stored in an airtight container.
- For the icing, bring the cream to a boil (watch it when it heats up, as the cream can boil quickly) and pour it over the chocolate in a bowl. Let sit for a minute, then use a spatula to gently stir the mixture until it becomes smooth and shiny. Whisk in and stir in sour cream. Add the vanilla and salt and mix. Let the frosting cool and put it on the counter (see Note) – this may take a few hours, which is why you can prepare it before baking the cake. It can be refrigerated, but it will then need to be heated in a bowl over a double boiler to soften it to a spreadable consistency.
- For the cake, preheat the oven to 180 Â° C (350 Â° F). Butter two 8-inch (20-cm) square pans and one 8Â½-inch x 4Â½-inch or 2 L (22 cm x 12 cm) loaf pan and line bottom and sides with parchment paper.
- Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, spice blend, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large mixing bowl (if using electric beaters) or the mixing bowl. a stand mixer fitted with the paddle. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the dry mixture, stirring on medium-low speed until the butter breaks down into pieces that are no longer clearly visible.
- In another bowl, whisk together sour cream, eggs and vanilla. Add it all at once to the dough and mix first on low speed, then for a minute on medium high speed, until smooth. Divide the dough evenly between the molds and roll out level. Bake the cakes for about 35 minutes; the bread will take an additional 10 minutes. Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then turn them over to cool completely (You can start making the gingerbread, see below, while the cakes are cooling).
- To assemble gingerbread house shaped cakes, place one layer of square cake on a tray or cake tower, spread an even layer of frosting on top, and top with the second layer of square cake. Cut the cake in half to have two 10 x 20 cm (4 x 8 in) sections. Spread a layer of frosting on one of them and stack the second on top – the cake will be about 10cm high now. Spread a layer of frosting on top of the cake.
- For the roof, place the sandwich bread on the base and cut the sides at a 45 Â° angle, to give the shape of the roof. (You can also cut the bread cake before placing it on top). Cover the entire cake with frosting. Refrigerate for at least an hour before finishing with gingerbread for garnishing, or after cooling for an hour, loosely wrap in plastic to assemble or decorate as desired later.
- For the gingerbread, beat the butter and brown sugar using an electric mixer or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle until smooth on medium speed, then stir in the molasses and ginger, followed by the egg.
- Sift the flour, spice blend, baking powder and salt over the butter base, then mix on low speed until the dough comes together. Shape dough into 2 discs, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before rolling (dough will not become completely firm when cooled).
- Preheat the oven to 160 Â° C (325 Â° F) and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Meanwhile, check the measurements of the side walls, end walls, and roof of the cake and use them to cut out templates from cardboard.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to just under 6 mm (Â¼ inch) thick. Use templates to cut out 2 wall pieces, 2 end pieces and 2 roof pieces, plus any additional decorative trim, if desired (shutters, fireplace, doors, etc.) and place the pieces on the hobs . Large pieces will take 15 to 18 minutes to cook, until the edges start to brown. Small pieces, like shutters, will only take 10 minutes to cook. Cool the gingerbread on the trays. Any excess dough can be rolled up and cut into festive shapes and baked for 10 to 12 minutes.
- Decorate, it is best to freeze a large part of the house while the rooms are separate and flat. For the royal icing, beat the meringue powder, icing sugar and lukewarm water with electric beaters or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment at medium-high speed until peaks form (about 10- 12 minutes). You can adjust the consistency by adding a few drops of water to loosen it, or additional icing sugar, to tighten it. Use the frosting immediately, or to store, cover the surface directly with plastic wrap.
- Put the royal icing in a pastry bag. Details of the pipes as desired on the walls and roof of the house: To create a “tiled” roof, use small amounts of royal icing to “glue” white chocolate buttons in rows to each of the roof pieces and let harden. Decorate other rooms as you like, piping doors, windows and decorations. Let stand for at least 2 hours before assembling on the chocolate cake, then just press the walls down the sides of the cake and press the pieces of the roof on top. Use remaining royal icing to adhere or fill in joints.
- The house can sit for a day before serving.
â¢ If you would like to use this recipe for a more traditional layer cake, reduce the cake and frosting proportions by one-third and bake and assemble into a 20 cm (8 inch) round or square 2-layer cake.
â¢ Meringue powder is mainly made from dried egg whites. If you can’t find it, try this royal icing recipe, made with icing sugar and fresh egg whites.
â¢ This rich ganache frosting is best made a day ahead and left on the counter for a beautifully spreadable consistency. I recommend not refrigerating it ahead of time, as that would then require reheating it and then putting it back in place.