175g (6 oz) butter
200g (7 oz) light brown soft sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
150g (5 oz) black treacle
375g (13 oz) plain flour
1 dessertspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 dessertspoon ground allspice
6 egg whites
1.75kg (4 lb) icing sugar, sifted
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice and treacle. Gradually beat in 2 eggs.
Sift the flour, baking powder and spices together then stir into creamed mixture.
Wrap dough in baking parchment, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Divide dough into 6 portions; 2 slightly larger than the others and leaving some for the four decorative cutters. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to approx. the size of the side wall and the end wall using the large rectangular cutter and the side wall cutter; cut out two of each. Roll out and cut two rectangular pieces using the large rectangular cutter for the roof. You can choose to cut the tree, window, chimney and gingerbread man decorations using gingerbread or fondant using the remaining dough and four cutters. Transfer gingerbread onto greased baking trays.
In a preheated 190̊C / Gas mark 5 oven, bake gingerbread for 10 minutes, or until crisp. When removing from the oven, leave the gingerbread on the baking trays for a few minutes to set, then transfer to wire racks. Leave out overnight to harden.
Lightly whisk 2 egg whites and gradually beat in approx. 1/3 of the icing sugar. The icing should be smooth and stand in firm peaks. (a) Spread or pipe a 23cm (9 in) line of icing onto a cake board, and press in one of the side walls so that it sticks firmly and stands upright. If necessary, spread or pipe a little extra icing along either side to help support it. (b) Take an end wall and ice both the side edges. Spread or pipe a line of icing on the board at a right angle to the first wall, and press the end wall into position. (c) Repeat this process with the other two walls until they are all in position. Leave the walls to harden together for at least two hours before putting on the roof. (d) Spread or pipe a thick layer of icing on top of all the walls, and fix the roof pieces in position; the roof should overlap the walls to make the eaves. (e) Pipe or spread a little icing along the crest of the roof to hold the two pieces firmly together. Leave overnight to set firmly.
When ready to decorate, make the remaining icing. In a large bowl, lightly whisk 4 egg whites, and mix in remaining icing sugar as before. Use this to make snow on the roof, and to stick various sweets for decoration. You can also use the five small cutters to make a chimney, a decorative window, a door, a gingerbread man and a tree outside the house with rolled coloured fondant. Finish with a fine dusting of sifted icing sugar.