Preheat the oven to gas 4, 180oC, fan 160oC. Roll out the gingerbread dough between two pieces of nonstick baking paper to a depth of 5mm. Remove the top piece of paper, place the template over the dough and, working quickly before the dough gets too warm, cut around the template. Keeping the dough on the paper you rolled it out on, carefully transfer it to the lined baking trays and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Bake the pieces until golden brown or firm to the touch (8-12 minutes). While still warm, trim the smallest amount off the base of each, to ensure it will stand flat when the castle is assembled.
Roll out the dough according to the templates or, if you want to use less dough, simply take the outside measurements for the bases and use the dough to make a ‘picture frame’. This will raise the main castle and the portcullis to the correct height.
To assemble, take one main house side panel and one main house front panel and pipe a line of icing down the edge of the side panel. Stand the two sections upright to form an ‘L’, then hold to fix the panels together. Pipe an additional line of icing on the inside join. Leave to set. Repeat this process for the other side of the castle. Leave the two halves to set separately. Once completely set, pipe a line of icing along the open side edges and carefully position together. Leave to set.
Take the front and back panels of the roof and pipe a line of icing onto the base edge of both panels. Take one of the roof panels and pipe a second line of icing across the top inside edge. Place this onto the roof ledge, so it sits about 1cm (1/2in) in from the front. Hold in place. Then take the second roof panel and fix into place at the back. The tops of the front and back panels should now be resting against one another, forming a triangle. Press the pieces in place so the icing at the top holds them together. Pipe another line of icing along the top point of the triangle and along the base edges. Leave to set.
Take one side roof piece and pipe a line of icing on the inside edges of the triangle and along its base. Press into place on the roof ledge at one of the exposed sides. Now repeat for the other side. Leave to dry.
Once the roof has set, pipe a line of icing along the top of the building and carefully lift the roof into place. Leave to set.
When the roof has set, roll out the navy blue sugar paste to 3mm deep and measuring 20 x 15cm (8 x 6in). Brush the gingerbread roof with edible glue, then drape the sugar paste in place over the roof, using your hands to smooth and shape it. Use scissors to trim any excess at the bottom.
Leave the sugar paste to harden, then decorate with edible gold paint. Paint each side of the roof separately, starting at the bottom and working from left to right. Paint a line of linking semi-circles all the way across. Repeat for the next row, so that the bases of the semi-circles sit on the top points of the 'tiles' below. Repeat this process until you get to the top.
Roll out and place a strip of navy sugar paste along the top of the roof join. Fix in place with edible glue and flatten with your fingertips. Cut out 4 thin strips, about 5mm (1/4in) wide, to cover the four side joins of the roof. Fix with edible glue.
Using yellow sugar paste, make the battlement decoration for the main castle. It is easier to position while still soft. Brush edible glue onto the back of the sugar paste and stick onto the front roof ledge. Position with your hands, reshaping where necessary. Hold for 30 seconds to secure, then leave to set.
Once it has set, paint with edible gold. Leave to dry. Fix the castle to the base.
For the side panels, cut out the arches for the bridge first, then the straight edges. To cut the arches, turn the knife edge away from you and just use the knife tip to follow the shape of the template. With the template still in place, use your fingertips to shape the edges of the arches. Once these are correct, cut the straight edges of the bridge. This way you won't lose the shape. Repeat for the second bridge side panel.
To make the battlement panels, face the crenellations towards you. Don't drag the knife, but use the tip to make the cuts.
Cut out the centrepiece and the two supports and bake with the side panels until firm to the touch. If you slightly overbake these, that's OK as they need to be strong! Trim the centrepiece along each side, so it is flush with the side panels when together.
When cool, turn the bridge centrepiece upside down and lie it flat. Take one bridge side panel and lay it next to the centrepiece so you can measure where the support struts need to go. (You want to line up the side panel and centrepiece so the two support pieces will eventually sit hidden inside the two middle struts of the bridge.)
Take one support piece and pipe a line of icing onto the long side. Fix it onto the underside of the centrepiece – lining it up so it will sit in the middle of one of the centre struts of the bridge. Once fixed in place, pipe an additional line of icing along the joins between the support and the centrepiece, so they are secured to each other. Repeat process for the second bridge support. Leave to dry.
Once the centrepiece is set, lay one bridge side panel face down. Pipe icing along one edge of the centrepiece, and down the edges of the bridge supports on the same side. Keep the side panel lying flat on the counter and place the iced side of the centrepiece onto it. The supports should be hidden by the struts of the side panel. Make sure you align the supports so they come to the bottom of the struts. As when you eventually set it upright you want the supports to be resting on the counter.
The underneath of the bridge will be completely hidden from view, so pipe an additional line of icing onto each join, between the underneath of the centre-piece, side panel and supports. Let the piece dry on its side.
Once set, fix the second side panel in place. Stand the piece upright and pipe icing onto the still-exposed edges of the centrepiece and supports. Keeping it upright, manoeuvre the second side panel into place against the centrepiece, making sure the side panels line up to each other. Leave to dry.
Once the main bridge is set, pipe a line of icing onto the bottom of the battlement pieces and carefully place the battlements on top of each bridge side. Hold for a few seconds, then leave to set, propping them up if necessary.
Once the bridge is dry, pipe an additional and generous line along the outside join so it looks like a ledge with snowfall. Leave to set.
Waffle cone rooves
For the roof turrets, you will need 9 waffle cones, four measuring 12cm (5in) long, two measuring 10cm (4in), two measuring 7cm (3in), and one measuring 5cm (2in). To create the correct lengths, carefully break tiny pieces off the cones, circling around so you end up with an even base.
Once all your cones are the right lengths, mix the Atlantic Blue and the navy sugar paste. Take a handful and wrap up the rest. Roll out the handful to a rectangle about 3mm (1/8in) thick, or until thick enough that it doesn't rip when you wrap it round the cone. Turn the paste over and brush with edible glue.
Place the waffle cone onto the sugar paste at the left-hand side, then roll the cone gently upwards to the right as you go so the whole cone is covered. Leave a small amount of fondant at the base of the cone so you can fold it inside to stop it from unravelling! Trim any excess from side and base. Use your fingertips to smooth the overlapping join and even out the base. Repeat the process until all cones are covered. Set aside to dry.
Once the cones have dried, take the edible gold paint and make a series of linking and separate semi-circles at random intervals, working your way around and up. Set aside to dry.
Start with the central turret. Take the front panel and lay it face down. Pipe a line down the inside right side and position the side panel onto the icing to form an ‘L’ shape. You want its edge to be hidden behind the front piece. Prop up the side while it sets.
Once set, fix the second side panel in place - fix to the inside edge of front panel so it will be hidden. Leave to set. Then fix the back panel in place. Once set, stand upright and fix a large circle ledge to the top. Fix a 12cm (5in) waffle cone onto the ledge with icing.
Repeat this process for the second turret and, once set, fix a 7cm (3in) waffle cone onto the ledge.
For the smallest roof, cut out the single panel piece and fix the 5cm (2in) waffle cone directly on top. Lie it down and leave to set.
NOTE - Do not put the roof turrets into place on the main castle until the very end.
Right side large turret
To assemble, take the piece you want to use or the front (one always looks better than the others!) and place it, face down. Pipe lines of royal icing down the left and right inside of the back of the piece. Pipe a second line of icing onto the outside edge of one of the side panels. Keep the front piece lying flat and fix this second panel onto the left-hand side. Holding it in place, quickly take the third panel and secure it to the other two pieces so you have a triangle. They might slip a little, so position until you are happy and hold in place for 30 seconds. They should then hold of their own accord. Leave to set lying down.
Once set, carefully stand upright and pipe a thin line along the top. Take the circle ledge and fix it to the top of the turret. Take one of the 12cm (5in) waffle cones and pipe a thin line of icing carefully to its base. Fix to the ledge. Leave to set.
Left side large turret
Follow the instructions for the Right Side Large Turret.
Right side small turret
Follow the instructions for the Right Side Large Turret, but instead use one of the 7cm (3in) waffle cones.
Left side small turret
Follow the instructions for the Right Side Large Turret, but instead use one of the 7cm (3in) waffle cones.
Follow the instructions or the Right Side Large Turret. Then repeat this process for the second turret.
Roll out a piece of light blue sugar paste using the template. Leave to set, then with the edible gold paint, paint a grid so that the vertical lines stop halfway down the sugar paste.
Let the paint dry, then pipe icing onto the back of the central panel and fix the sugar paste at the back of the central panel with the grid lines straight in the opening. Leave to set.
Pipe icing down each side of the central panel and fix the two turrets on either side. Leave to set and then secure onto the base with icing.
On a nonstick surface, roll out a piece of light blue sugar paste to a thickness of 2-3mm. Cut out the windows using the templates, then leave to set on baking parchment. Once they are set, use a paintbrush and the edible gold paint to outline the windows with gold or pattern the centres as you wish.
Once the windows are fully dry, fix into place on the castle and turrets using edible glue. Position each window and hold for a few seconds until they stay in place.
Roll the dough to about 0.5cm (1/4in) thick. Cut out 10-12 trees to create a nice full ‘woodland’. Bake for 8-10 minutes, then leave to cool.
Take 30g (1oz) white sugar paste and roll it into a ball. Insert the tree stem into the centre of the ball. Using your fingertips, press the sugar paste into a small mound around the base of the tree. It will naturally flatten onto the work surface, creating a support that allows it to stand while looking like fallen snow. Repeat the process for each tree and set aside for the sugarpaste to harden.
Dust with icing sugar.
Assembling the castle
Once all pieces are fully set, prepare the board on which the castle will stand. Pipe a small amount of royal icing onto the surface, towards the back where the main castle will sit. (Don't use too much in case you need to reposition.) Move the main castle into place centred towards the back of the board. Once you are happy with its position, take the centre roof turret and pipe a line of icing onto the base. Position on the centre of the roof of the main castle. Repeat this process for the two small roof turrets that sit on either side.
Position the right side turrets with the larger of the two closest to the main castle and the smaller one next to it and slightly forward. (They do not attach to the main castle.) Secure the turrets onto the board with icing.
Position the left side turrets with the larger of the two closest to the main castle and the smaller one next to it and slightly forward. Again, they are all secured singly. Secure onto the board with icing.
Place icing on the board where you want the portcullis piece to sit. The front should be about 10cm (4in) from the main castle. Move into place and the centre of the main castle structure.
Position the bridge, centred to the portcullis entrance and fix in place with icing. Fix the trees onto the board, scattering them randomly around the castle ‘grounds’. Dust the castle lightly with icing sugar. Then dust the surrounds and bridge a little more intensively so the icing sugar lands on the tops of the bridge and trees.
Please note: As this is a showstopping, specialist bake, some of the ingredients used to decorate the fairytale castle are not widely avaiable in Tesco stores. However, you will be able to find them in cake craft shops.
Download the Gingerbread fairytale castle template here