How to Make a Gingerbread House
Yesterday (was that really only yesterday? Sheesh, it’s been one of those days.) I posted pics of Creamie’s little gingerbread house, and today I finished up mine. And finally it’s ready to post. Day eleven of A Handmade Christmas is all about making your own gingerbread house. But you don’t have to make yours pink. The other colors are fine too. Me? I HAd to make mine pink.
Roll up your sleeves, this is going to be fun. Let’s start out by making your gingerbread dough.
Gingerbread House Recipe
NOTE: This is not the same as the recipe for gingerbread boys. This dough is a lot stiffer and stronger when it cools, making it ideal for holding up a house loaded down with candy. The gingerbread boys are a much softer cookie.
1/2 cup oil
2/3 cup molasses
1/3 up brown sugar
2 3/4 flour
1/2 tea salt
1 tea ginger
1 tea cinnamon
1 TB baking powder
Combine dry ingredients in the sifter, set aside. Measure out your oil first, and after you’ve dumped it into a mixing bowl, use that same cup to measure your molasses. The oil will help the molasses slide right out of the cup without leaving a sticky mess. Mix the oil, molasses, sugar and egg well, then add the dry ingredients from the sifter. Mix well. Cover and chill overnight in the fridge, or for 30 minutes in the freezer.
Spray a rimmed cookie sheet/jellyroll pan with nonstick spray. When your dough is chilled, spread it out on the cookie sheet. Cover the dough with a piece of plastic wrap and use your fingers, a small rolling pin or an offset spatula to help smooth it out, making sure to get to all the corners. Try to get this as smooth as you can. Bake at 300 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.
You can click here to download a PDF of my Gingerbread House Pattern. I’ve used this pattern to make my house every year for as long as I can remember. Print it on heavy cardstock, or trace the pattern onto a manilla file folder, or the back of a cereal box. Trust me, the thicker your pattern pieces are the less burned your fingers will be. When your gingerbread is done baking, layout the pattern pieces on top and cut immediately. A tip from the experienced: Curl your fingers under a bit and hold the pattern pieces with your fingernails, not your fingertips. This will result in fingers that are much less burnt. Trust me.
Your gingerbread will start to get stiff and hard as it cools off, so it’s important to cut your pieces out as soon as you can. And the other important part is to eat the scraps before they cool off. When they are warm they are super soft and delicious. But as they cool off they lose that softness. Good for building houses, bad for snacking.
Here is a layout for how your house pieces will fit on the cookie sheet. While your gingerbread is cooling off, make your frosting.
Royal Icing Recipe
3 egg whites
1/4 tea cream of tarter (helps it dry hard and a little shiny, don’t leave it out.)
2 LB powdered sugar.
Beat together until the frosting is stiff. You don’t want it too runny because it will take longer to dry. But make it too stiff and your hand will be on fire by the time you are done squeezing all that frosting onto your house. You can spoon your frosting into a pastry bag with a tip, or into a ziplock bag. Cut off a teensy bit of one corner of the ziplock to squeeze the frosting through. Keep extra icing covered in the bowl, covered with a damp towel so it doesn’t get dry.
This is where there should be a picture of decorating my house. But, my hands were covered with frosting and sugar and candy, and I thought it wise to not pick up my camera. I always decorate my house pieces before putting it together, it’s a lot easier (in my opinion).
I covered a pizza pan with tinfoil to use the base for my house. But you could use a piece of plywood, heavy cardboard, or a 10″ cardboard cake round. Use lots of frosting to stick your pieces together. I usually start with the back of the house, and then add the sides. Then I’ll add the front piece.
Before you attach your roof pieces, fill in any gaps with frosting, and reinforce seams with frosting or more candy. Candy sticks or candy canes work particularly well on those corners.
I always leave the door to my gingerbread house open a little. Why? No idea, it just makes it seem more inviting. This year my door is “glass”. It’s covered with coarse sanding sugar so it’s sparkly. I made my windows the same way.
Then you are ready to put your roof pieces on top. Use a thick line of frosting along each slope. When both pieces are in place, run another thick line along the top seam, and fill it in with candy. A candycane/candystick works particularly well here, but you could also use licorice, or a line of big pieces of candy, like these gumballs. This will help keep the two pieces from sliding off before the frosting gets hard and dry. Then I covered up the edges of the roof with more frosting. I’m all about having the thing completely covered.
Full Disclosure: I thought I might run out of frosting before I finished the whole thing, so I left one side of my roof undecorated. It was a wise move… I used the last little bits to finish the edges of my roof. I only used 2 egg whites instead of three when I made the frosting. Which was dumb. If you aren’t going to cover every single little bit of gingerbread with candy then you would be fine with 2 whites for one house. My original plan was for a gingerbread and red and white and green house. But then I remembered the pink candysticks after I made the frosting and plans changed.
Except for the pink candy sticks, which I bought at a candy factory a few weeks ago, all the candy on this house came from the grocery store bulk bins or from walmart. The shutters are laffy tafffy. Those are pink bubble gum balls along the peak of the roof, and pink M&M’s for shingles. I used pink heart shaped marshmallows, pink sweettarts, and pink sprinkles on the backside of my house. And the pink “bricks” on the front were some awful tasting jelly something. I had to cut these in half, so technically I’ve got a pink split face brick going on.
I was running out of naptime (not to mention frosting) so I didn’t finish the yard. I’ve got some gumdrop and sucker trees that will make an appearance, as well as a white chocolate pretzel fence, and a pink starburst front walk, nestled into a bed of crushed peppermints. Tomorrow, I’ll think about that tomorrow.
I make a completely different house every year. Last year was a rock candy and black licorice tudor style house, with hershey bars for shutters and Cinnamon Toast crunch for shingles. I’ve made plenty of houses in Christmas colors, and some in all pastel candy, but this little pink house is my favorite. So far. I’m sure that will change next year. I’ve got one more project left in my Handmade Christmas series which I’ll post tomorrow. See you soon!