In the run-up to Christmas, I promised my niece we would make a gingerbread house together. Unfortunately, with a festive schedule packed with scoffing cheese and watching old Disney films, we never got around to it. So this Easter, I’ll be surprising her and making up for it with this gingerbread bird box. If you’ve never made a gingerbread house before, then I must warn you that they can take a while. But, if you have the time, whiling away an afternoon scribbling with icing and nibbling on mini eggs is the sort of thing childhood was made for.
Gingerbread bird box
Scoop up any offcuts from the gingerbread dough to make extra biscuits.
Prep 3 hr
Cook 10 min
Makes 1 biscuit box
For the biscuits
130g unsalted butter
100g light brown sugar
1 ½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp star anise, ground in a mortar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
300g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the icing
1 egg white
400g icing sugar
A few drops of lemon juice
Gel food colouring (I used red, yellow and green)
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, sugar and honey, then add the ground spices. Add the flour and bicarb, then stir together to form a soft dough. Tip the dough out on to a large baking sheet lined with baking paper and roll out to 3-4mm thick.
Cut out paper templates for the roof, sides, front section and base of the bird box, then use these as a guide to cut out sections from the dough. Remove any offcuts, then arrange your cut-outs so there is enough space between each one to allow for spreading.
Bake at 190C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6 for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven. If the biscuits have spread, use the stencils as a guide to cut off any excess – be sure to do this while the biscuits are still warm, because they will become brittle as they cool.
To make the icing, mix together the egg white, icing sugar and lemon juice to a consistency you can pipe. Divide the icing equally into three bowls, colour each with a different food colouring, then put into piping bags. Use the icing to stick chocolate buttons to the roof section (to act as tiles), pipe flowers on to the side and front sections, then leave to dry.
To assemble the box, pipe icing along the edges of the base, sides, front and back sections, then stick together. Fill the inside of the box with the chocolate eggs before piping icing along the edges of the roof sections and sticking together.