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How to make a gingerbread house

How to make a gingerbread house


Gingerbread has been enjoyed in Britain since the Middle Ages, although the recipe has evolved quite a lot since then! And Queen Elizabeth I would give beautifully crafted figures made from expensive ginger dough to her guests.

Alternative Christmas baking ideas

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Chocolate & chestnut yule log

A festive crowd pleaser

This is a great alternative to Christmas pudding on the big day, or even as a little treat for any guests the night before.

As the spice became more available, gingerbread developed into a popular festive treat across the country and evolved into more of a biscuit texture. The quirky tradition of gingerbread houses became popular in the early 19th Century, after Grimm’s ‘Hansel and Gretel’ tale was published.

Today, making a gingerbread house is something lots of us look forward in the Christmas holidays. It’s a brilliant way to spend time together in the kitchen, and make something pretty awesome at the same time. Here’s how to make the ultimate gingerbread house.

SPICES & AROMATICS

The perfect gingerbread needs to be bursting with spices, filling your home with festive aromas and Christmas joy. The gentle hum of cinnamon, subtle warmth of nutmeg and allspice, and a fiery kick of ginger all join together to make the ultimate gingerbread.

Nutmeg: The hard nutmeg seed is ground or grated and used in both sweet and savoury recipes. It is fragrant, warming and very slightly sweet.

Ginger: Sharper than some other spices, ginger has a powerful heat to it, as well as powerful citrus flavours which go brilliantly with more earthy spices.

Cinnamon: Distinctively warming, cinnamon spice comes from the dried bark of the cinnamon tree. It’s gentle and really aromatic.

Allspice: Small, dried berries that look a bit like peppercorns – allspice got its name because it was thought to taste like a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves together.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons treacle
  • 160g muscovado
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 1 orange
  • 460g plain flour, plus extra
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 free-range egg whites
  • 500g icing sugar
  • Sweets and edible glitter, to decorate

METHOD

  1. Put a small saucepan on a low heat, add the maple syrup, treacle, sugar, ginger and cinnamon with 4 tablespoons of water and combine with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring until the mixture boils.
  2. Carefully take the pan off the heat, then cube up and add the butter, saving 1 piece. Let it all melt in, stirring to combine, then grate in the orange zest.
  3. Stir in the flour and baking powder until everything comes together as a dough – if it’s very sticky, dust it with flour, then wrap it in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

ROLLING THE DOUGH

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Grease a baking tray with the reserved butter. Dust your work surface and rolling pin with flour, then roll the dough out to about 5mm thick. Using a sharp knife, cut out pieces for your house.

MEASURING YOUR GINGERBREAD

You’ll need six pieces in three different shapes, downloadable here.

Sides: 20cm x 14cm
Roof: 21cm x 7cm
Gable ends: 10cm (base) x 14cm (outer sides) x 18cm (apex).

  1. Any scraps can be pressed together and rolled out for the next pieces. Place your house pieces onto the tray, leaving a 1cm gap between them. Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden and slightly darker around the edges. Let the gingerbread cool completely before icing.
  2. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks then, while whisking, gradually mix in the icing sugar till you have a dense stiff meringue. Use this to glue your gingerbread pieces together.

HOW TO DECORATE A GINGERBREAD HOUSE

Attach sweets and chocolate buttons, using icing as glue, then very lightly dust with glitter for sparkly snow. Alternatively, try using dried fruits, Christmas nuts, candied peel, piped melted chocolate and orange zest for something different.

HOW TO STORE YOUR GINGERBREAD HOUSE

If you want to get ahead on your gingerbread house, make your dough, roll it out in the dimensions you need, then freeze it. Once frozen, wrap the pieces individually in clingfilm and bundle them together, then you can unwrap and bake straight from frozen when you need to.

Once baked, your gingerbread house will be good to eat for about 5 days.

If you’re not ready to go straight into a gingerbread house, why not practice by making Jools’ gingerbread men:

Discover Jamie’s ultimate recipes for all the festive classics in Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Book , on sale now. And take a look at the Christmas Hub for ideas for everything from cocktails, and edible gifts to special diet recipes and tasty leftovers.


How to Make a Christmas Gingerbread House

Assembling and decorating a gingerbread house is one of the sweetest traditions of the season. With our tested recipes, easy-to-follow template, and decorating suggestions, it&aposs not so difficult — just gather your supplies, get creative, and have some fun!

Planning

You&aposll want to give yourself several days to make a typical gingerbread house from scratch so you&aposll have time to make, cut, and bake the dough to assemble the house and let it dry and finally to decorate.

Baking

Follow recipe directions to make, cut, and bake your gingerbread house pieces. To ensure they&aposre truly firm enough to build with, you can leave them in your oven as it cools to give them extra time to dry out.

Building

Visualize the "yard." Will you have a walkway? Trees? A fence? Or you might like to set the house at an angle instead of squared up.

  1. Start by laying the panels down on the base with the four corners touching, as though the house was flattened from the inside out. That forms a rectangle where the house will stand when the panels are put together. Trace the rectangle with a line of royal icing. This helps the panels meet at right angles when you "glue" them together, and provides extra stability.
  2. To assemble, you&aposll use royal icing to "glue" a side panel to the back panel. Stand up a side panel in the line of royal icing you traced along its base. Apply a generous amount of icing to the vertical edge that will touch the back panel.
  3. Stand up the back panel in the line of royal icing you traced along its base, so the back panel and and the side panel meet and are held together by icing . Hold in place until the icing firms up. (You can use a hair dryer on the "cool" setting to help speed things along.) Use cans and cartons to support the panels while they dry.
  4. Attach the second side panel to the back panel as in step 3, and support it until it firms up. Attach the front panel. Use cans and cartons to support the panels until they dry completely overnight is ideal, but depending on temperature and humidity, your royal icing might dry faster.
  5. When the royal icing has dried rock-hard, you can attach the roof, one piece at a time. (Remove any cans/cartons from inside the house before attaching the roof.) Let the house dry completely before decorating — a minimum of 4 hours, but preferably overnight.

This video for Children&aposs Gingerbread House will take you through the steps — note that you&aposll use the template above to cut out the pieces.

Decorating

Have a plan for decorating. Think about how you want your house to look and what candy should go where.

  • Save time and make accessory items ahead of time: snowmen, trees, carts, candles, and fences can be made while you&aposre waiting for the house to dry.
  • Apply candy decorations by putting a small dab of icing to the underside of the candy and holding it in place until set.
  • Use extra dough scraps for decorative cut-outs.
  • Keep the tip of your pastry bag covered with a damp cloth in between decorating to prevent hardening.
  • Use tweezers to adhere small items to the house. You may need super glue to adhere top-heavy items, like lamp posts.

Helpful Tips

  • Allow a weekend to complete the house.
  • Read all instructions before you begin: you will need to double the gingerbread recipe to have enough dough.
  • Allow the baked gingerbread to cool thoroughly before assembling.
  • Make royal icing ahead of time and keep covered with plastic wrap touching the surface of the icing at all times to prevent it from drying out.
  • Adjust the consistency of the icing by adding more egg whites if the icing is too dry or more powdered sugar if it is too wet. It should be thick and stiff.

Trouble-Shooting

Icing is too stiff. Add a bit of water, one teaspoon at a time, mixing thoroughly until the icing loosens up a bit. You don&apost want it too loose, otherwise it takes a very long time to dry.

Icing is too loose. Add a bit more powdered sugar.

House doesn&apost look picture-perfect. Don&apost worry you&aposll be able to fill gaps and cover errors later with more icing and decorations. A fool-proof assembly method, if you&aposre not going to eat the gingerbread, is to use a glue gun. And remember, perfection is overrated.


I Made a Gingerbread House For Squirrels and They Absolutely Loved It

Holiday decorating is easily the most joyous pastime of the season (besides, of course, eating all the food), but every year I discover that the adorable gingerbread house I’ve spent lots of money and candy on ends up thrown in the trash, untouched. So, because it’s 2020 and every part of the holiday season is looking a bit different, I decided to try making a gingerbread house with a totally new approach. That’s right—I made a “gingerbread” house for squirrels. 

Not only did I see this as a fun challenge to my food styling creativity (using only their favorite woodland treats to build it), but I also thought it would make a cute outdoor decoration. Turns out, I had just as much fun watching the squirrels nibbling on it as they had devouring it. If you ever want to make a wildlife-friendly gingerbread house for your own furry neighbors — which I𠆝 highly recommend — I’ll share exactly how I did it.

As much as I wanted to make this structure out of real gingerbread, I knew flour and sugar were not part of a well-rounded squirrel diet, so I opted for a wooden house as my starting point instead. I found this adorable wooden bird cottage at Hobby Lobby and attached it to a sturdy wooden base using wood glue. I also drilled a few holes in the corners of the base, allowing me to stake the house into the ground once it was finished.

Next up, the main event: decor! I gathered all the seeds, nuts, and dried fruits I could find in the grocery store, trying to have as much variety in shape and color as possible. That left me with raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried blueberries, coconut, pistachios, pecans, almonds, walnuts, dried corn, sunflower seeds, and a few different kinds of bird seed. 

I should also mention, this project required a WHOLE LOT of peanut butter, which is what I used as my glue. 

After that, let your creativity take it from there! I used a spatula to spread the peanut butter over whatever section of the house I was working on, then covered it with my edible supplies. There’s really no wrong way to go about it—squirrels don’t judge. But, insider tip: shredded coconut makes a great faux snow effect.

Then, put your house outside and watch as the squirrels enjoy your holiday gift. Or, just watch above to see what they did to mine. Happy Holidays!


Gingerbread House

Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Orange and lemon zests make this recipe, from Bill Yosses, the former White House pastry chef, especially delicious, if you plan on eating your gingerbread house (and you can, even weeks after baking). But feel free to leave them out. We strongly recommend using a scale here. It will make it much easier to accurately measure the ingredients and to evenly divide the dough. This recipe, for the house's building blocks, is large, and it makes enough for the project featured in our How to Make a Gingerbread House guide. But as the instructions state, you'll want to make it in two batches, since it's too big for the average stand mixer. Note that you'll want to bake your gingerbread at least a few days before assembling the house, to give the slabs time to harden, and set aside a few hours for decoration and assembly. &mdashJulia Moskin

Ingredients

  • 1 pound/454 grams unsalted butter (4 sticks), at cool room temperature
  • 2 ½ cups plus 3 tablespoons/595 grams dark brown sugar
  • 12 ¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons/1,648 grams all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 heaping tablespoons/15 grams ground ginger
  • 2 heaping tablespoons/15 grams ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups molasses
  • Zest of 2 lemons (optional)
  • Zest of 2 oranges (optional)

Preparation

  1. Make half of the batch: In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together half the butter and half the sugar for 5 minutes, until fluffy. Scrape down sides.
  2. Meanwhile, sift together the dry ingredients — the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt — and set aside half.
  3. With mixer running at low speed, add two eggs, one at a time. Mix in 1 cup molasses. Scrape down bowl.
  4. In 3 batches, add half the dry ingredients, mixing just to combine. To prevent any flour from flying out, make sure the mixer is off when adding each batch, and drape a towel over it when mixing. Mix in zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange.
  5. Pull dough out of mixer, and wrap in plastic wrap, or transfer to a resealable plastic bag. Repeat Steps 1 to 5 to make the remaining dough. Refrigerate overnight.
  6. When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Roll out dough: For each square, weigh out about 20 ounces of dough. The goal is to end up with five 9-inch squares, so you’ll roll them out a bit larger, bake them and trim off the edges.
  8. Lightly dust a large piece of parchment paper with flour. Place the chilled dough on top. Roll side to side and up and down to make a rough square shape. While you roll, make frequent quarter-turns so that the dough remains even.
  9. Roll until dough is about 10 by 10 inches and a generous 1/4-inch thick. Transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. (Any dough left after the squares have been prepared can be rolled out 1/4-inch thick and used for cookies.) In the oven, the slab will rise to about 3/8- or 1/2-inch thickness, which will make the house extra sturdy.
  10. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until even and firmly set. Place pans on racks to cool. To prevent bending and cracking, carefully transfer to racks by lifting parchment paper. When completely cool, stack the slabs, still on parchment, and set aside to dry out at room temperature for 3 to 7 days. (When ready to assemble, see How to Make a Gingerbread House guide for full instructions.)

How to Make a Gingerbread House

Gingerbread houses are fun to make and a chance to use your creative abilities. The different types of houses that can be made are only limited to your imagination. It is especially popular at holiday times and can be a fun activity for the kids. It is fun for them to be able to use their imaginations when it comes to decorating. Making a gingerbread house is a project that generally takes a couple of days to accomplish. It is best to construct the house first and decorate it another day. The house can be constructed and then stored and decorated several days later, depending on your schedule. Be sure to allow plenty of time when constructing and decorating so that you are able to enjoy the experience.

Making a Gingerbread House with Kids

Making a gingerbread house is especially popular at holiday times and can be a lot of fun for the kids. It is fun for them to be able to use their imaginations when it comes to decorating. Listed below are some suggestions on how to make the experience of making a gingerbread house a fun activity when working with kids.

  • Using a gingerbread house kit will reduce the amount of time before the kids can get started decorating. Sometimes waiting for the house to be baked and constructed can make the kids overly anxious and cause stress for everyone.
  • If you are working with fairly young kids and are constructing a house from scratch you may want to limit how much they help with the baking and constructing. They will have a tendency to get bored with these activities and by the time the house is ready for decorating they may be tired of the whole project.
  • When working with older children, try to give them jobs you know they can handle so they don't get frustrated if something goes wrong. Also, prepare yourself for the fact that everything may not turn out perfect.
  • Take your time! Bake the pieces one day, construct the house another day, and decorate on a third day. Make sure when you do work on it that you have plenty of time and are not going to be rushed. If you don't have time to construct the house on the day immediately following the baking of it, then wait for a day that you will have time. The baked pieces can wait to be constructed. The same holds true for when it comes to decorating.
  • PAINT SHIRTS! Save yourself from the laundry blues by using paint shirts for each of the kids, especially when using food coloring, chocolate, and other candies that leave stains.
  • When it is time to decorate, be sure everyone is well rested and that you have plenty of time. You may want to try to work out a simple plan with the kids on how they want to decorate and maybe give different jobs to each child. But, just remember that the best made plans don't always work the way we intend them to. Don't be surprised when the kids get bored with the whole project and you are left to finish.
  • Give the kids the freedom to use their imaginations and HAVE FUN!

Making the Gingerbread House

A gingerbread house can be constructed using many different styles, from very simple to very elaborate. It is best to keep it simple for your first try to allow yourself a chance to become familiar with some of the techniques and to find out what works best for you. There are many different recipes for the gingerbread itself, which are very similar to the recipes used for gingerbread men but the recipes for the gingerbread houses generally contain more flour for stability. Royal icing is generally used as the glue to hold the house together and is also used for decorating. The icing can be tinted to different colors and candies, sprinkles, and colored sugar can be used for additional decorations. The content below contains basic information on how to make a simple gingerbread house.

Baking the Gingerbread Dough

  • 6 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. ginger
  • 4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 c. light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. molasses
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • Add in the eggs, molasses, and water to the brown sugar and butter mixture. Beat until well incorporated.
  • Add half of the dry ingredients and beat into the mixture until evenly mixed.

  • Add the remaining dry ingredients and stir into the dough by hand. Stir only until ingredients are evenly mixed. If the dough is not stiff add a little more flour.
  • While the dough is chilling it is a good time to cut out the pattern for your gingerbread house if you don't already have it cut. Cut the pattern out of thick paper or cardboard. Cardboard works best because of its stability.
  • Mark the different pieces with the number that you need to cut of each and any other notes in regard to cutting the pieces, such as whether or not to cut out windows and doors on all pieces.
  • After the dough is chilled, remove one package from the refrigerator and place it on a work surface lined with parchment paper or wax paper.
  • Lightly sprinkle the dough with flour and then roll out into a rectangle with a lightly floured rolling pin until the dough is 1/4 inch thick.
  • Use the cardboard templates to cut out the pattern pieces in the dough. Leave at least one inch in between the different sections. Place as many pieces as you can fit on the dough.
  • Carefully cut the dough along all the edges of the pattern pieces and cut the outlines for the windows and door. Be sure to apply enough pressure to cut through the dough but you do not want to be cutting through the parchment paper.
  • Cut out the pieces that will fit on this piece of dough and then peel away the unwanted areas.
  • Gather the scrap pieces to roll out again to cut more pieces. After peeling off all the unwanted sections, touch up any rough edges by using the blade of the knife to smooth or pat into shape.
  • When the pieces are ready, lift the parchment paper up and transfer it to a cookie sheet.
  • If the baked pieces have spread during baking, lay the pattern pieces over them and trim them to the size of the pattern. It is best to do this while the gingerbread is still warm to help prevent the pieces from cracking. When the pieces are warm, they are softer and easier to cut. Be sure to place them on a flat solid surface when trimming.
  • After doing any necessary trimming, place them on a cooling rack. Allow them to cool completely before you begin constructing the gingerbread house.
  • If the pieces have cooled before you trim them, use a serrated edge knife and cut using a sawing motion to help prevent breakage.
  • Cut the remaining pattern pieces from the other section of dough and bake in the same manner.

Alternative Methods for Making a Gingerbread House

Gingerbread House Cast Iron Mold

  • There are cast iron molds available that can be used as templates for the different sections of the gingerbread house. Some of these molds have a different pattern on the front and back, providing a design variety. They will generally have a design in them that is transferred to the dough when it is pressed in the mold.
  • To use a cast iron mold, spray the mold with oven spray or grease it by hand. This will help the gingerbread sections release from the mold more easily after they are baked.
  • Press the dough into the mold firmly, filling each section level with dough. Be sure to press the dough firmly into the mold so that the pattern is transferred to the dough.
  • After all the sections are filled, place the cast iron mold in an oven preheated to 350°F and bake for 15 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.
  • Remove from the oven and allow the gingerbread to cool in the mold for approximately 10 minutes before removing the pieces.
  • The mold will produce pieces for one half of the house so you will have to repeat the above procedures to make the pieces for the other side of the house. The house can be constructed and decorated in the same manner as shown below.
  • A kit provides an easy and quick method for making a gingerbread house. A kit generally will include a base for the house to be constructed on, all of the house pieces, the icing for constructing and decorating, and candies for decorating.


  • The house is constructed in the same manner as shown below and then decorated with the candy and icing that is provided with the kit. You can also add your own candy and color some of the icing with food coloring to add variety to the look of the gingerbread house.

Constructing the Gingerbread House


Side 1

Side 2

  • 3 pasteurized egg whites
    OR 1/4 C. meringue powder plus 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 4 c. powdered sugar
  • Combine the egg whites or meringue powder and water with the cream of tartar and beat until it becomes foamy.
  • Add about two thirds of the powdered sugar and beat into the egg mixture. Gradually add the remaining powdered sugar and almond extract and continue to beat on high until the icing holds a stiff peak.
  • If the icing seems too runny, add a little more powdered sugar. If the icing seems too thick, add a teaspoon of water at a time until it is at the desired consistency.
  • If you are not ready to use the icing immediately, dampen a dish towel and place it over the bowl of icing to keep it from drying out. Remove the towel to take some of the frosting out to work with and then replace the damp towel on the bowl.
  • If the damp towel is placed over the bowl while you are constructing and decorating the house, the icing will remain the proper consistency. If the towel begins to dry, sprinkle it lightly with water to re-dampen. See below for more information about storing the icing properly.
  • Prepare a surface to construct the gingerbread house. Cover a board with decorative paper, white freezer wrap paper, or aluminum foil. If you do not have a large board to use, a cookie sheet with sides can be turned upside down and covered in the same manner as a board.
  • Place some of the icing in a pastry bag or a small sealable plastic bag, which can have one corner clipped off so it can be used for applying the icing. There are plastic disposable pastry bags available that work really well for applying the icing. Look for them anywhere that they sell cake decorating supplies.
  • Once the bag has been filled with icing, tie the opening tightly shut with some string. Clip the end with a scissors, being careful not to cut too much off, resulting in an opening that is too large.
  • Before you begin putting the pieces together, make some markings on the prepared surface as to where the house should sit. Hold up one side wall and an end wall in the location that you want to construct the house. Check squareness with a right angled object.
  • Once the pieces are squared, score the foil with the edge of a spoon along the bottom edge on the inside of the two pattern pieces.
  • Remove the pattern pieces and do the same on the other side wall and end wall. These markings can be used as a guide when you begin placing the pieces on the board.
  • You are now ready to begin construction. If you want to do some decorative work around the windows and door, you can do that before putting the walls up or you can wait until after the house is constructed. It is easier to decorate them when they are laying flat but then they are a little harder to handle when you are constructing the house.
  • Begin constructing by placing a thick line of icing on the prepared board where the side wall has been marked. Also, line the bottom edge of the side wall with icing and then place the section on the board where the line of icing was applied.
  • Use a heavy straight sided object to help support the wall. Once the wall is in place, add another line of icing along the bottom edge of the wall on the inside to give the wall additional strength.
  • Next add one of the ends of the house. Add the line of icing to the board as was done for the side wall. Add a line of icing along the bottom edge of the end piece and also along the edge that will connect to the side wall.
  • Place on the board, connecting it to the side wall, having the end piece placed so its edge is flush with the outside of the side wall. Hold it in place and double check squareness with a right angle object.
  • Once the end is squared, add a line of icing along the bottom edge on the inside and on the inside of the connected corner.
  • Continue constructing the other side wall by first adding a line of icing on the scored line on the foil, which indicates the location of that wall.
  • Apply a line of icing on the left, right and bottom edges of the side wall before placing it on the line of icing that is on the foil. Set the side wall on the icing line and then apply a line of icing along the bottom edge on the inside and along the inside corner.
  • Then add a line of icing for the end wall. Be sure there is a line of icing on both of the ends of the side walls where the end wall will attach to the house in the corners. Line the bottom edge of the end wall with icing also.
  • Place the end wall on the line of icing and align so that the corners butt up to the iced corners of the side walls.
  • Use a heavy straight sided object to help support the end wall. Once the end wall is in place, add a line of icing along the inside of each of its corners.
  • Once it is together and the icing has had a chance to set a little, run a line of icing along each of the outside corners of the house for added strength. Now allow the house to stand for at least two hours so that the icing has a chance to dry and firm up some before trying to attach the roof.
  • To attach the roof, line the three edges of the top of the house with icing where one side of the roof will be placed.
  • Carefully place the first half of the roof on the iced side. Hold in place for a few minutes to allow the icing to begin drying. Then add a line of icing in each seam of the roof on the inside of the house.
  • After adding a line of icing to the inside roof seams, use an object to prop the roof up so it does not start to slip down while it is drying. Allow the first half of the roof to dry for an hour before attempting to place the other half on the house.
  • When placing the second half of the roof on the house, be sure to use a good line of icing on the edges of the house where the roof will be placed. You want to be sure to have a good icing line because you will not be able to reinforce the seams on the inside with more icing on the second half of the roof.
  • Hold the second half of the roof in place for a few minutes and then prop it up and allow it to dry. Run a line of icing along the length of the peak for additional strength.
  • Construct the chimney off of the house. Double check the angle of the chimney to be sure it will fit properly and adjust if necessary by trimming carefully with a knife.
  • Once the chimney is finished, leave it off the house until you are ready to decorate. Allow the chimney and the house to set overnight to give it a chance to dry completely before decorating.

How to Salvage Broken Pieces

  • If a piece of the house breaks or cracks when you are working with it, it can be repaired with icing. Do the repairs on the side of the piece that will be facing to the inside of the house. Apply a line of icing on the crack and then apply some to a scrap piece of gingerbread to use as a brace.
  • Attach the scrap piece across the crack and hold in place for 1 to 2 minutes to allow the icing to begin setting up. Then allow the piece to sit for at least two hours before handling.

Decorating the Gingerbread House

The house is now ready to decorate. You can use anything you feel would work for decorating as long as it is edible.

If you are going to use colored icing, place small amounts of the icing into separate bowls, add the necessary amount of food coloring to get the icing to the color you desire. Be sure to cover the containers to keep the icing from drying out when you are not using it.


Gingerbread House Icing

Every house needs sturdy walls, right? Royal icing is the “glue” that holds the house together. It’s also the glue adhering any candies to the walls and roof. As you can see in these photos, I covered the roof with royal icing before piping the buttercream on. As the royal icing dried, it gently dripped off the sides and looked like snow.

TIP: Use as much royal icing as you need to for constructing the house. It dries hard and will look like snow. Plus, you can cover up any messy parts with buttercream or candy.


Keep your fingers clean and free of icing at all times otherwise your house will have unsightly smears all over it. The edges of both sides of the pieces of gingerbread should have a strip of icing. That way the icing touches the icing instead of the bare gingerbread. This creates a stronger seal.

  • Place a strip of icing on the edge of the gable that you will be setting down first.
  • Set the gingerbread house gable side in the bead of royal icing.
  • Place a long gingerbread house side in the other bead of royal icing. While holding the pieces with one hand, run a bead of royal icing up the seam, making sure all gaps are covered. Hold for a few seconds and release. If you have trouble with slippage, you can prop the walls up with whatever is handy.
  • If the project you're working on isn't an intricate pattern that's dependent on exactly matching pieces, don't worry if there are gaps between pieces. Just fill them with royal icing. The decorations will cover a multitude of sins.
  • Wait until these two sides are completely dry before moving onto the next walls!

Royal Icing Recipe for a Gingerbread House

Royal icing is the edible "glue" or mortar that holds a gingerbread house together and can be used to make fancy sugar decorations. It's the best option for projects like gingerbread houses since, unlike buttercream frosting, royal icing will harden once dry. It's the key to keeping your gingerbread house from falling down.

If you plan to eat the gingerbread house after it has served its decorative purpose, we recommend using pasteurized fresh egg whites since the icing is not cooked. Pasteurized egg whites are available at grocery stores in cartons and better options than meringue powder because the result is smoother and the icing has better "stickability." No matter what kind of eggs you use, make sure the egg whites are at room temperature for better volume and be careful not to over-whip your royal icing, or it will crack as it dries and your house will collapse. Don't omit the cream of tartar—it helps stabilize the egg whites and keeps the icing smooth.

The best and easiest way to use royal icing is to transfer it to a piping or pastry bag. The piping bag makes it much easier to get into corners when assembling the gingerbread house and allows for more exact placement of candy decorations like icicles and curlicues. This recipe makes enough royal icing for assembling and decorating a standard-sized gingerbread house, so plan accordingly.


How to Make A Gingerbread House & Still HAVE FUN With Your Kids!

Here’s the secret — Spread this holiday tradition out over the course of a week instead of trying to cram it all into a single day.

Instead of heading into each of these activities exhausted and flustered (because you’ve been baking with the kids all day), you’ll approach each section completely refreshed.

  • PREP: Order the gingerbread house template, recipe ingredients, icing supplies, and candy decorations. Get all the details below!
  • DAY 1: Invite the kids to the kitchen and make the gingerbread house recipe together. I encourage you to let them get in on the baking action! Store the dough in the fridge until you’re ready for the next step.
  • DAY 2: Roll the gingerbread dough out and bake it in your gingerbread house template — this is the one we use! Let the walls and roof cool overnight.
  • DAY 3: Decorate! Make your gingerbread icing and decorate your four walls! Give the icing time to dry.
  • DAY 4: Build the structure and let it dry overnight.
  • DAY 5: Decorate the roof and add final details to the exterior!

Ok, let’s dive into the details…

Gingerbread House Template

We use this Christmas holiday baking set which comes with three silicone gingerbread house molds (4.5 out of 5 stars ). Pop on over to Amazon to see some of the customer photos in the reviews section . So cute!

Gingerbread House Recipe

We recommend using Ann Reardon’s gingerbread house recipe from How To Cook That . My good friend Carey who recommended the gingerbread house mold to us explains, “This is THE BEST recipe for the gingerbread house. I didn’t use it the very first time we made a gingerbread house and the dough rose WAY TOO MUCH in the molds. Anne’s method and recipe are PERFECT for this mold.”

Add the following gingerbread ingredients to your shopping list:

  • Brown sugar
  • Unsalted butter
  • Golden syrup or treacle
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Nutmeg
  • Ground cloves
  • All-purpose flour

How To Make A Gingerbread House Using This Recipe & Silicone Baking Mold

After you’ve made the dough, be sure to watch the intro of this video on how to split the dough properly for the different sections of the mold!

While we’re using this video’s recipe and mold, we recommend using a different icing recipe for a stronger hold. Get that below!

^ We cannot decide if we want to do the candy coating or just a straight-up gingerbread house this year. Both are so cute!

Gingerbread House Icing

When making a gingerbread house you absolutely want to use royal icing as the structural glue. Classic gingerbread house icing recipes will likely include egg whites as an ingredient. If you’re like our family and cannot resist eating the icing, I encourage you to use a safe recipe with meringue powder instead. We love Wilton as a frosting and icing resource!

We’d recommend doubling the Wilton royal icing recipe from the get-go if you’ve got a stand mixer with enough capacity. If you’ve got a hand mixer, simply make two batches. You’re going to need:

You’ll want to start with a batch of icing for decorating. Then you’ll move on and make a second royal icing batch of thick gingerbread house icing for securing the structure. We love being able to see what the icing consistency looks like in the video below.

^We just love her! These tips are all great.

Pro-Tips: 3 Easy Gingerbread House Ideas That Will Help You Keep Your Sanity

  1. Stop!Don’t put the gingerbread house together quite yet. I want to share a quick pro-tip from a good friend, “We have found it works better to do the majority of the decorating of the panels while they lay flat. Once dry THEN assemble the house!”
  2. Keep it simple! Below are a bunch of playful gingerbread house candy and decorating materials. More isn’t always better, sometimes it is just more. Ensure a cute gingerbread house by picking just a few decorating materials and being creative with them!
  3. Let go of that image of the perfect gingerbread house! Enjoy the creative process and don’t fret if things don’t end up looking like you originally planned. This is a new holiday tradition, which means you can try again next year.

We’ve always loved this solution to a gingerbread house gone wrong.

Gingerbread House Candy

There are so many fun options for gingerbread house candy! Here are some of favorite decorating candies to consider adding to your shopping list.

  • Classic Gumdrops
  • Candy Canes
  • Starlight Mints
  • Twizzlers
  • Holiday M&Ms
  • Dots
  • Mini Starbursts
  • Jelly Belly Beans
  • Red Hots
  • Nesco Wafers
  • Chocolate Kisses
  • Peanut Butter Cups
  • Nonpareils + Snowcaps
  • Chocolate Chips

SAFETY NOTE: If you have a dog in your house as we do, I recommend staying away from chocolate for their safety. Or be sure to put your gingerbread house up safely out of reach!

We absolutely LOVE this tip for rolling out and cutting classic gumdrops into custom shapes . We just bought a 3-pound bag of gumdrops on Amazon to play! SO FUN.

Here are a few of our other favorite gingerbread house ideas!

Gingerbread House Decorations — Going Beyond Candy!

While I absolutely love classic candy decorated gingerbread houses, we’ve seen some stunning examples of playful alternatives. Here are some ideas to add to your shopping list if you want a beautiful, more natural-colored gingerbread house.

  • Nuts, nuts, and more nuts: sliced almonds, full pecans, naturally colorful pistachios, walnuts, and peanuts
  • Pretzel of all shapes and sizes: Pretzel square roofs, pretzel rod cabins, the possibilities are endless
  • A minimalistic house with powdered sugar to accent the mold design
  • Sugar ice-cream cones frosted into pine trees
  • Fresh herbs “holiday decorations”
  • Chex mix cereal rooftops
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Oreos
  • Biscoff wafers
  • Nilla wafers

How cute are these gingerbread house decorating ideas.

Putting It All Together

When your four walls are decorated, it is time to use the gingerbread house icing to glue the structure together. Both the videos above offer great tips for making this process run smoothly, including using a cup or can to give the gingerbread house extra support while you work!

Be sure to let your gingerbread house dry for at least two hours before continuing to decorate. We recommend letting it dry overnight, if possible. The baking company Wilton warns, “When it comes to building gingerbread houses, patience is a virtue! Give your gingerbread house plenty of time to dry when working.”

How To Make a Gingerbread House The Right Way

The “right way” to make a homemade gingerbread house depends on YOUR FAMILY in this season of life.

If you’ve got little ones, maybe you want to involve them in making the dough and icing, but save the decorating as a gift for yourself at night while you sip cocoa and watch a holiday movie. That is perfectly okay, my friend.

If your kiddos are older, you might involve them in all the steps. This is the perfect opportunity to let them take charge of decorating and embrace imperfection.

If you’ve got teens in the house, use this chance to put them in charge of holiday fun. Building a gingerbread house together is a great tradition that gives you lots of time to connect in the kitchen while you work. That being said, if this is too much teen-time consider collaborating independently!

In my humble opinion, the only real requirements beyond the gingerbread house supplies are Christmas music and hot chocolate while you work.

Wishing you and the people you love most in this world a healthy and joyful holiday season.

P.S. A big THANK YOU to my friend Carey for inspiring our family to take on this new holiday tradition. We are always inspired by your creativity! xo


3: Gather Ye Supplies While Ye May

There's nothing worse than wasting 20 minutes in the middle of a project looking for a piping tip. Believe me, I've been there. As part of your plan above, get out all of the tips, knives and cutting tools, spatulas, food colors and rulers you'll need. You'll thank me later! #ProTip from Sarah: do you have multiple colors of icing that require the same tip? If you don't have couplers, do the double-bag trick: Place your colored icing in separate plastic piping bags and cut off the tips. When you're ready to use a color, grab an extra plastic piping bag, fit it with the tip, and place your bag of icing inside. Swap (and clean out your tip) as needed!

Nell Becker used pretzels to create a water wheel, and designed tiny signs to customize purchased ones.


How to Make a Gingerbread House

Follow these simple steps to build your own gingerbread house — decorated however you'd like and filled with gingerbread boys and girls.

Related To:

Photo By: Rachel Allen ©2012 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Rachel Allen ©2012 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Rachel Allen ©2012 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Rachel Allen ©2012 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Rachel Allen ©2012 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Rachel Allen ©2012 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Gingerbread House. and People!

Why make an empty ol' gingerbread house when you can fill it with a whole gingerbread family and decorate it to the nines?

Follow these instructions to build your own gingerbread village. For the ingredient list, go to the Gingerbread House and People recipe.

Make the Gingerbread House Pieces

First Make Templates in Paper According to the Following Dimensions:
2 front and back pieces: 5 by 7 inches
2 roof pieces: 3 by 7 inches
2 side pieces: 6 by 6 inches
(These are handy not just for now but also for when the dough is cooked and you need to trim the walls and roof, to ensure all the edges are straight.) Follow the instructions according to the recipe for preparing the gingerbread dough.

Place a sheet of parchment paper on your work surface dust with flour and roll out about one-fourth of the dough to 1/4-inch thick. Place one of the paper templates on the dough and cut around it with a sharp knife, then slide the dough, still on its parchment paper, onto a baking tray. Repeat with the remaining dough, re-rolling the trimmings, until you have a front and back wall, 2 side walls and 2 roof panels. Re-roll any leftover dough to make into Christmas trees or boys and girls (there should be enough for 6 to 8). Carefully trim the excess paper from around each piece on the baking trays.

Bake all the sections in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until slightly firmed and just a little darker at the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for a few minutes on the baking trays to firm up. One by one, lift the pieces, still on the paper, and trim around the template to give clean, sharp edges. To make an open door for the house, cut a rectangle out of the front wall and cut out windows, if you wish. Place on a wire rack for a few minutes, then turn over and peel off the trimmed paper. Leave all the pieces to cool completely.

Meanwhile, prepare a board for the house to sit on, such as a large wooden chopping board (that can be covered with tin foil, if you choose).

Make the Boys and Girls, and Begin Assembling the House

To Make the Gingerbread Boys and Girls:
Remove the dough from the refrigerator, dust the work surface with flour and roll our all of the dough to about 1/4 inch. Cut out the girl and boy shapes using boy/girl cutters, transfer onto the baking trays and cook in the oven for 12 minutes, until they are slightly firm, a little darker at the edges and slightly drier on top. Allow the shapes to firm up for a few minutes, then place them on a wire rack to cool. When they have cooled, they can be iced, if you wish.

To Make the Icing 'Glue' for the House: Place the egg whites in a large bowl, sift in the confectioners' sugar, then stir to make a thick, smooth icing. Spoon into a piping bag with a small star-shaped nozzle.

Begin Assembling the House: Pipe generous lengths of icing along the vertical wall edges, one by one, to join the walls together. Using a bowl or some other object or objects to support the walls from the inside, hold the walls gently in place with your hands until the icing is dry. Leave the roofless house to dry for at least 30 minutes until the icing is firmly set.

Once dry, remove the supports and pipe a thick line of icing along one long side of a roof piece and along the top edge of all the walls. Stick the two roof sections together at an angle and set the two pieces on top of the house. You can arrange the roof so that there is a slight overhang on either side of the house. Hold the roof gently in place for a few minutes until it dries, then leave it to dry for a further 30 minutes.




Decorating Icing (& glue for constructing)