How to create a National Trust gingerbread house

Create a generic gingerbread house and then transform it with a National Trust feel

Cakes and bakes
Gingerbread house
  • Preparation time Several hours (prep. time)
  • Cooking time 12 - 15 minutes (cooking time)
  • Serves Varies


Gingerbread ingredients

  • 600g strong plain flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 175ml golden syrup
  • 115g dark brown sugar
  • 115g butter
  • 4 tsp of bicarbonate of soda, dissolved in 4 teaspoons of water
  • 4 tsp of ground ginger
  • 2 tsp of mixed spice

Decorating Ingredients

For our prototype gingerbread house we’re going to suggest some basic, Christmassy colours for decoration. You’ll want to adjust these as you see fit depending on how you want your final house to look:
  • 500g white ready to roll icing
  • 250g pink ready to roll icing
  • 250g red ready to roll icing
  • 250g green ready to roll icing
  • 250g purple ready to roll icing
  • 300g chocolate ready to roll icing
  • 300g light brown ready to roll icing
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • White royal icing


Making a gingerbread house is definitely one of the more challenging Christmas baking recipes, but like any other project if you carefully follow the instructions you’ll have a masterpiece. First let’s take care of the baking.

Baking instructions

  1. Take your flour, ginger and mixed spice and sieve it together. Transfer to a large heat-proof bowl.
  2. Combine the sugar, golden syrup and butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Don’t allow the mixture to boil and stir until you have a smooth, sticky liquid.
  3. Whisk your egg yolks.
  4. Make a well in the middle of your flour mix and add the melted syrup mix, egg yolks and the bicarbonate of soda.
  5. Stir well to combine then, ensuring the mix is cool enough to touch, use your hands to knead the mixture into dough.
  6. Wrap the dough in cling film and set to one side for 30 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 180oC/350oF.
  8. Take some sheets of baking paper and sketch two side walls, two end walls and two roof panels onto your baking paper and cut them out.
  9. Break off a third of your gingerbread dough and roll it out to a depth of 5mm. 
  10. TOP TIP: Gingerbread can get sticky when rolling so to help you avoid tears and splits dust two sheets of baking paper with a little icing sugar, place the dough between them and then roll the dough out. Remove the top sheet when you are ready to cut the dough.
  11. If your baking sheet is large enough, use the baking paper templates to cut out the sections of the gingerbread house. If not do a few at a time.
  12. Lay your gingerbread sections on your baking tray. Gingerbread expands during baking so be sure to leave ample space between pieces to avoid them fusing together.
  13. Bake for 12-15 minutes until a golden brown colour.
  14. If needed repeat for the other sections then leave to cool on a wire rack.

Decorating instructions

One of the best features of Christmas baking recipes is the huge scope for decorating and making your cakes and bakes lively and exciting. The gingerbread house is no exception, and you’ll find some truly artistic examples if you search the internet.
We’re going to keep things simple and bold to start with, but feel free to get creative. Be sure to keep your work surface dusted with icing sugar to avoid tearing the icing. 
  1. A few days before you begin decorating roll out your white ready to roll icing and cover a cake board to serve as the foundation for the house and its garden area. Set this aside and allow it to harden.
  2. Pipe a pattern which runs around the house onto the gingerbread walls using royal icing and a number 1.5 piping tube. You can make this as simple or complex as you like. Use it to partition the eaves and attic area of the panels from the main walls.
  3. To make windows knead your pink ready to roll icing until it’s nice and pliable, then roll it out on to your work surface. Using a square cutter press out as many windows as you want. Brush the back of each square with cooled boiled water and fix them into place on the walls.
  4. Pipe royal icing onto the window panes to create the frames.
  5. Roll out your red icing and cut out a door shape using a knife or cutter. To add texture use a knife to divide the door into panels. Use some water to fix a small ball of purple icing to the door to act as a handle.
  6. Fashion a small Christmas wreath out of some green ready to roll icing and fix into place on the door.
  7. Fix the door to the front panel of the house using your cooled, boiled water and then pipe some small beads of royal icing across the door’s lintel to give it a snowy effect.
  8. Knead and roll out your chocolate icing to a depth of about 2mm. Then using a small square cutter press out roof tiles. Fix these onto the roof panels, again using water, overlapping them for a rustic, tiled roof feel.
  9. Melt your dark chocolate in a bowl over some boiling water, this will act as a cement to fix the panels together.
  10. Place your wall panels on the cake board using melted chocolate to glue them together. Support the walls with dry sponges until the chocolate hardens.
  11. Fix the roof panels to the walls using melted chocolate.
  12. Once the roof section is set in place create a ridge to run along the roof apex. Roll out a sausage of red icing and fix it into place. Alternatively you can braid together a sausage of red and white icing to form a twist.
  13. Now to decorate the gables cut out some semi circles of red icing and attach them to the front and back gables with cooled, boiled water.
  14. Roll out your light brown icing and cut out a path shape with a sharp knife. Fix into place leading up to the door and border it with two thin sausages of green icing.
  15. Take your green icing and divide into several small sections, rolling each into a ball in your hands. Gently fashion each into a cone shape, flattening the bottom of each. Then snip the edges with scissors to feather the icing and create tiny trees. Glue them into place using water.

Give it a National Trust twist

These instructions will let you create a generic Christmas-style gingerbread house.
Congratulations, you’ve completed one of the classic Christmas baking recipes, but you can give it a National Trust twist by trying some of the following:
Tyntesfield. This majestic Victorian Gothic Revival house offers so much in the way of inspiration for ornate decoration. Add some imposing icing turrets to the roof, a grand portico around the front door and some arched windows to give your house that Gothic revival flair.
Killerton. Add some features from Killerton, like 12 panel windows and creepers along the walls.
Kingston Lacy. We’re putting on a dazzling display of festive lights at Kingston Lacy. You can recreate this in two ways. Either create small ‘bulbs’ out of various colours of icing (red and green would give it a Christmassy feel), or you could add a small string of fairy lights around the gingerbread house. Just be sure not to leave them on too long in case you melt the chocolate cement and need to call in the property maintenance team.
Saltram. Give your house a Saltram feel by adding multiple chimneys. You can fashion them out of icing with chopped chocolate fingers for the chimney pots.

Cotehele. Every year our gardeners make a stunning 60 foot Christmas garland to adorn this beautiful Tudor house. Create your own by crafting icing flowers and draping them around the entrance way to your gingerbread house.

Will you be baking a National Trust gingerbread house this winter? Be sure to share your creations with us on Twitter or Facebook.