Here's How To...
Make a Gingerbread House

Decide on the type of house you will build: thatched-roof cottage, cabin, holiday theme, etc. Purchase decorative materials to give the house to life and interest. See suggested list below.

One week in advance: Make dough and chill. Bake walls and let dry thoroughly for at least three days.

Three days in advance: Construct base of house. Let dry.

Two days in advance: Decorate and attach roof. Let dry.

When walls and roof are securely attached and dried, it is time to decorate. Don't expect to apply the finishing touches in one day. Letting your icing cement dry properly is critical to every attachment.


Construction Materials

Fruit leathers or fruit rolls: Trim for siding, stained-glass window, bows, logs.

Peanut brittle: Tiles, sidewalks, fencing, shutters, window boxes.

Peppermint twists: Door posts, pillars, fences, porch and railings.

Crackers: Roof tiles, walkways.

Jelly beans: Bricks, roof edging, stone walls, window edging, tree decorations, lights in windows.

Lifesavers: Small wreaths, garland (cut in half and attached to fruit leathers).

Gum drops: Bases for lampposts.

Striped, flat chewing gum: Walkways, siding, roof tiles.

Tiny cinnamon dots: Cobblestones, doorknobs, berries, brick accents.

Shredded Wheat cereal: Thatching material for roofs, landscape mulch, hay.

Butterscotch rounds: Streetlights, window lights.

Caramels: Walkways, stacked for benches or chimneys, bricks.
Starlight mints: Stained-glass windows.

M&M candies: Cobblestone, walkways, roof tiles.

Graham crackers: Chimneys, driveways, shutters.


Builder's Tools

Small cookie cutters: people, horses, various shapes (These can be used to make any detail on your house, i.e. roof shingles, fence.)

Cardboard: Use for support on larger houses.

Pizza cutter: Use to cut out gingerbread-house pieces.

Resealable plastic bags: These can be used as pastry bags for the icing; clip a corner and go.

Thick cardboard or a square of plywood: Cover in fancy wrapping paper or just plain craft paper and use as a base for your project.

Dressmaker pins: Use to secure gingerbread pieces.
 

Dough Recipe

1 cup butter at room temperature
1 3/4 cups brown sugar
1 1/4 cups white sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
6 eggs
6 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon allspice

1. Line several cookie sheets with aluminium foil. Butter and flour the foil.

2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars. Beat in the molasses and eggs.

3. In another large bowl, sift dry ingredients. Combine mixtures and knead into a smooth ball. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

4. On a well-floured surface, roll out a small amount of the dough until it's 1/4 inch thick. Place one of the paper pattern pieces on the dough and cut around the edges. Gently, using the spatula, lift the dough and place it on the prepared cookie sheet.

5. To make windows and the door: Cut out a rectangle from the appropriate side. Cut the window in half to make shutters. Fill empty window holes with crushed life-savers to form stained glass windows.

6. To make the chimney: Cut out a rectangle big enough to hold all pieces of the chimney. When the baked dough is still warm and soft, lay the pattern on top and cut out the pieces.

7. Preheat the oven to 325oF. Bake 15-20 minutes or until slightly firm. Let cool on racks until firm enough to handle. Peel the foil off the sections and set the pieces aside to dry thoroughly overnight.


Icing Glue Recipe

3 egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
3 - 3 1/2 cups icing sugar

Several bacthes of this recipe will be needed to complete the house.  If you make them all at once, keep them in separate bowls: the icing dries very quickly and as hard as cement. Keep well covered.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until they begin to foam. Add the cream of tartar and beat until the whites are stiff but not dry. Gradually beat in the icing sugar, beating for about 5 minutes until it reaches spreading consistency. Keep it covered and refrigerated until needed.


Preserving

Most holiday bakers do not build edible gingerbread houses. Most are meant for special centerpieces or holiday decorations and are expected to last through the season. To make yours last, spray it thoroughly with artist's fixative or heavy-duty hair spray. 


More Resources

Making a gingerbread house from scratchis no simple task. The instructions posted at Simply Recipes are best used in a sequence of social gatherings, beginning with making the dough and the pattern pieces, then rolling out the dough and baking the pieces, followed by assembly of  the pieces and, finally, decorating. 

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