Shetland Pepperkakehus {Gingerbread House Recipe}

by Elizabeth Atia -

Shetland is heavily influenced by its Nordic history. Even in our house a touch of Norway appears now and then, given that my husband is half Norwegian! This pepperkakehus (gingerbread house) recipe is adapted by one Bestemor (Norwegian for Grandmother) sent me several years ago, to which I added a Shetland twist.

When I originally made the recipe I was going through a "add seaweed to absolutely everything" phase, and I used Shetland-based Bod Ayre Seaweed Sprinkle. Sadly they have stopped trading. Alternatively, you can harvest and dry your own seaweed to add to the recipe (or omit it entirely). I also doubled the spices used in the recipe as I like a good kick to my gingerbread.

If you don't have a gingerbread house template (there are plenty online to download) just use your favourite Christmas cookie cutters. You could always crush some coloured boiled sweets to fill in the windows before baking to make a stained glass effect.

To decorate, royal icing was piped in Fair Isle inspired patterns all over the house. I think this was a rather effective technique, don't you? Not a bad attempt for my first (and only!) ever gingerbread house! I was particularly pleased with my little gingerbread lifeboat and lifeboatwoman too!

On behalf of everyone on A Taste of Shetland I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and wonderful New Year!

Shetland Pepperkakehus

Course: Main

Servings: 1 house

Prep Time: 16 hours

Cook Time: 2 hours

  • Shetland eggs - 2 Large
  • Caster sugar - 200 grams
  • Treacle - 250 grams
  • Shetland butter - 125 grams
  • Freshly ground black pepper - 1 tsp
  • Ground ginger - 1 tsp
  • Ground cinnamon - 1 tsp
  • Ground cloves - 1 tsp
  • Shetland seaweed - 1 tsp (dried and crumbled)
  • Bicarbonate of soda - 1/2 tsp
  • Plain flour - 600 grams
  • Icing sugar - 500 grams
  • Egg whites - 4
  1. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  2. Gently melt butter and treacle together in a small saucepan. Allow the mixture to cool slightly before adding to the egg and sugar mixture.
  3. Sift together the spices, seaweed, bicarbonate of soda and the flour.
  4. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a wooden spoon to make a dough. Knead briefly until smooth.
  5. Cut dough into quarters and wrap in clingfilm. Chill overnight in the refrigerator.
  6. Preheat oven to 200 C.
  7. Roll dough out on a floured board until 3 mm thick.
  8. Using a paper template cut out the walls, ceiling, etc. Remember to cut out the centres of the windows! (Alternatively, just cut out with Christmas cookie cutters)
  9. Place on baking paper and bake for 10-12 minutes.
  10. Re-roll the leftover bits and refrigerate the dough when it is not being used.
  11. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Leave the baking paper on until the gingerbread is cool.
  12. To prepare the royal icing, whisk the egg whites until frothy.
  13. Sieve over the icing sugar and beat, continually, for at least five minutes, or until the icing forms stiff peaks.
  14. Decorate as desired. It is easier to decorate the parts prior to assembly. Leave to dry overnight and assemble the next day.
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This recipe originally appeared on Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.

Posted in: Recipes