Liam’s card tower is easier to make than it might look, and if it all comes crashing down it’ll be just as tasty to eat anyway. We’ve used playing-card cookie cutters for the fondant decorations, but you could use a sharp knife and homemade templates to create the classic card designs.
Heat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/375°F/Gas 5.
Make the gingerbread. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon into a medium bowl.
Heat the butter, sugar and syrup in a medium pan over a medium heat, until it just comes up to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir for 2–3 minutes, until cooled slightly.
Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the hot sugar mixture, then mix to form a dough. As soon as the mixture is cool enough to handle, pat it out into a 20cm-diameter circle (measuring about 20cm diameter) on a sheet of baking paper and refrigerate for 20 minutes, until chilled.
Make the orange curd. Put the orange juice and zest, and the sugar and egg yolks into a small pan. Whisk to combine, then cook over a medium–high heat, until the curd thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (about 10 minutes).
Once the curd has thickened, pass it through a sieve into a clean bowl, then add the butter and stir until fully incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to use.
On a surface lightly dusted with flour, roll out the chilled gingerbread to about 3mm thick. Using a cookie cutter, cut out twelve 9 x 6cm rectangles. (If the cookie cutter isn’t deep enough to cut through the dough, use it to make an indent, then use a knife to cut out the marked rectangle shapes.)
Place the rectangles on the lined baking sheet, spacing them apart to give them room to spread during breaking, and bake for 10–15 minutes, until tinged a slightly darker shade of brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 2–3 minutes.
Place the biscuits one at a time on a chopping board. Place the cookie cutter over the warm gingerbread and trim the edges if they have spread, so that you end up with 12 identical-shaped gingerbread rectangles. Transfer to a cooling rack for 5–10 minutes to harden up and cool completely.
On a surface lightly dusted with cornflour, roll out the white fondant to a rectangle measuring about 30 x 20cm and 2.5mm thick. Using the rectangular cookie cutter again, cut out 10 rectangles, re-rolling the trimming as necessary.
Using a pastry brush, very lightly brush the gingerbread with edible glue or water and stick the fondant rectangles on top so that they look like playing cards.
On a surface lightly dusted with cornflour, roll out the red and black fondant to the same thickness as the white fondant.
Using heart, spade, diamond and club cutters, cut out 7 black shapes and 7 red shapes. Using a paintbrush and edible glue or water, stick a heart, club, diamond or spade shape in the middle or the corners of the cards, making 5 red and 5 black cards. Set aside.
Make the orange curd mascarpone filling. Mix 3 tablespoons of your chilled orange curd into the mascarpone until just combined. Don’t overmix or the mascarpone will be too runny. Place in a piping bad and pipe a layer of orange curd mascarpone filling on top of the 2 black cards, leaving a 5mm border around the edge. Sandwich the cards together and top with one decorated card. (You will have some curd leftover – use it as a dip for the remaining biscuits, or enjoy it on toast.)
Using the diagram as a guide, stack 9 decorated cards in a tower – laying 2 down as a base, then balancing 4 on top to form 2 triangles, then another flat across the points of the triangles and a final 2 biscuits as the top of the stack in a final triangle. Serve alongside the orange mascarpone deck of cards.