Want to start a fun Christmas Tradition in your home? Here are instructions for baking, assembling and decorating your own Gingerbread house. It is a project that several people can work on together, and mistakes can be eaten, making it fun for everyone!
6 cups all purpose (plain) flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
4 tsp ginger, ground
4 tsp cinnamon, ground
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups molasses
1/4 cup meringue powder
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar (icing sugar)
Assorted Christmas candies (color theme or all colors)
Silver and gold dragées
Making the gingerbread dough
Beat the butter with the sugar until fluffy, in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
Beat in the molasses. Mix well.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, the baking powder, the ginger, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.
Add the dry mixture to the liquid mixture in three even additions. Continue stirring until the mixture turns crumbly and the ingredients are combined. Use your hands to gently press the crumbly mixture together so that it forms dough. Divide the dough into thirds and shape roughly into rectangles. Wrap each rectangle in plastic kitchen wrap.
Chill the dough. Place the wrapped rectangles in the refrigerator and chill for about 2 hours.
Baking the pieces
While the dough is chilling, make your template for the house. The template can be drawn on card stock or similar strong, thin cardboard.2 rectangular walls (both same size)
2 gable ends (both same size)
2 roof sides (make these slightly longer than the walls and slightly wider than the Gable’s slanted sides.)
Templates can be found online with a brief search.
Roll the chilled dough between two sheets of parchment paper to a scant 1/4 inch (5mm) thick.
Lay each template on the dough and cut out the house pieces. Gently transfer the dough house pieces to a baking sheet. Slide the dough still on the paper, as parchment paper can be baked.
Bake at 350ºF/180ºC for 15-25 minutes. Place in the center of the oven for even baking. It’s ready when it turns slightly darker at the edges and feels firm to the touch.
Gently transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool before using (otherwise, the icing will melt).
While this step is not essential, making some extra gingerbread figures gives you something more to work with when decorating.
Roll out leftover gingerbread dough pieces.
Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes. Choose cutters that match the gingerbread theme, such as gingerbread people, stars and Christmas trees. Bake and cool as above. The time needed will be on the lower side, as these pieces are smaller.
Making the royal icing
Beat the meringue powder with 1/2 cup of water. Beat until foamy (about 2 minutes).
Add the powdered sugar. Beat it in until stiff (about 9-10 minutes). Assembling the house
Place the icing in a pastry tube for easy piping. It’s also useful to have some in a small bowl for dabbing here and there, as needed.
“Glue” your house together using the royal icing. It is helpful to have an extra set of hands at this stage––get the kids, your spouse or neighbors involved!Glue the walls together first. Let them set in place before adding the roof pieces.
The roof pieces can be tricky but with the right angle and some patience at holding them gently in place until any risk of sliding is abated (about 1-5 minutes), they will sit firmly. If you don’t want to hold them by hand, use props such as kitchen utensils or upturned mugs, etc. Size up your clean kitchen gear to do the task!
Decorating the house
Ice the entire roof. Once the whole gingerbread house has set, the roof needs to be iced to represent snow. Use a palette knife or butter knife to spread the snow evenly across the roof.
Decorate the roof first. The candies will stick to the roof easily before it dries, so do this part now. Stick candies, dragées, sugar crystals and any other items on the roof.
Decorate the walls next. Stick the candy items and gingerbread cut outs to the walls using dabs of royal icing as glue.
Decorate the “yard” around the house. This can be as simple or elaborate as you like. You’re not limited to edibles; a few plastic trees and the like can be added provided they’re hygienic and food-safe.
Place your creation on the table or sideboard for display. Admire your work and expect lots of compliments! In good conditions, a gingerbread house should last a few weeks provided nobody tucks into it sooner.
This video provides uses gingerbread dough and building from scratch. Tips
Patience is a virtue when making gingerbread houses. They require a lot of effort from baking to assembling. Children tend to enjoy the lengthy process though, as there is much to do (and chew) in each stage.
Gingerbread houses do not have to be the stock standard version. You can vary it as much as you’re willing to experiment––ideas to vary the theme include a castle, a hut, a log cabin, a tent, a fairy house, a Santa house, etc.
Sugar ants are attracted to gingerbread houses left out without cover. If you have problems with sugar ants, do not leave the house out overnight; cover and put away.
Moisture can be a significant problem for gingerbread houses; sagging walls and roofs are common in areas of high humidity. Choose stiffer dough options or a spray sealant of some sort. (spraying sealant on will preclude eating it later.)
Things You’ll Need
Cake base (can be cardboard covered in foil, a mirror, a baking sheet turned over, etc.)
Cardboard, scissors, ruler and marker for template; template design from internet or your own imagination
Rolling pin and board
Plastic kitchen wrap
Palette knife/butter knife
Icing piping tube
How to Make Royal Icing
How to Make Gingerbread Houses Using Graham Crackers
How to Make Reduced Fat Gingerbread People
How to Make Gingerbread Cake
How to Draw a Gingerbread House
How to Make Gingerbread Men Connected by Hands