How to make a gingerbread house
How to make a gingerbread house that is as sturdy as it is delicious is something I pride myself on. As a child, my mother (also the owner of the Confectionery House) would come into my elementary school class room during the holidays, and teach my class how to make a gingerbread house. Everyone would make a mess, some children would be eating the frosting right from the piping bag, and some ate their candies even before decorating their gingerbread houses.
I was the child who took gingerbread house making far too seriously, I would drown out the sugar rush mayhem and sit quietly, tediously placing each candy and decoration so that it was the perfect interpretation of what I thought a gingerbread house should be. I can guess this was directly influenced by my mother, her gingerbread house making skills were something to be admired.
I always loved watching my mom create such magnificent gingerbread houses, they far surpassed my capabilities and I swear she has far more patience than I could ever have.
Rita (my mother) created gingerbread houses that you could stare at for hours, they would have you lost in awe. I remember day dreaming, pretending I lived inside these miniature life like structures. Once, Rita even made a gingerbread house that was identical to our store, it was spectacular and everyone who saw it marveled. If there is one person on this planet that knows how to make a gingerbread house, it’s my mother.
Rita’s Gingerbread House, modeled after the Confectionery House was almost identical to the building, fully edible, and built to scale. Her gingerbread house was truly remarkable and one that has never been forgotten.
My mother and I still love making our gingerbread houses, but we really enjoy passing on the tradition to our customers, teaching them how to make a gingerbread house that impresses all.
Our tried and true Gingerbread recipe is sturdy, delicious, and it’s also dairy and egg free!
Gingerbread House Recipe:
This recipe is for a hard cookie that is perfect for constructing gingerbread houses and ornaments. It contains no eggs or other ingredients that will spoil, so it can be made ahead of time.
- 1 cup shortening
- 1 ½ cup Unsulfured molasses Dark or Light (12 oz. jar)
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 cups flour
- ¼ – ½ cups water
- 4 tsp. ginger
- ½ tsp allspice
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- Melt shortening in a saucepan on your stove top or in a large bowl in the microwave.
- Cool slightly, add molasses and sugar, mix well.
- Add flour 2 cups at a time along with spices and mix well. Add enough water so dough is not crumbly. Knead your dough on the counter top until everything is fully incorporated.
Coloring the Dough
At this point you can color the dough in small portions at a time. Start by first adding white paste food color to lighten the dough and then what ever color you wish.
Rolling out and cutting the dough
Roll the dough out on parchment or silicone liners. Dough must be rolled on parchment and cut, keeping in mind that they will bake on that same sheet in the same spots. This is done so you will not distort the pieces by moving them. Use 2 dowel rods on each side of your dough while rolling. This acts as a guide for the thickness of your dough, and will ensure you have an even depth. Your dough will bake more evenly and pieces will fit together properly. To do this, place the dowel rods on each side of your parchment (space between dowels should be about an inch less than the length of your rolling pin) and roll out your dough gliding over top of the dowel rods.
Cut out your pieces, remove the excess dough, lift parchment and place on cookie sheet for baking.
Cutting custom patterns-
Place a printed pattern on dough (leave approximately ½ inch between pieces that you cut to allow for expansion when baking, this way all your pieces don’t bake together) Cut straight lines using a craft knife or pizza cutter to avoid dragging of the dough. Carefully lift away excess dough. If you plan to cut out windows or doors this should be done now. This is also the time you should do any imprinting, example – roof shingles, stone brick or siding. You can leave an imprint on the dough using a toothpick, or by using an impression mat.
Glass for gingerbread house windows can be made in various ways-
For stained glass windows– use crushed hard candies. Place small mounds on a baking tray lined with silicone parchment paper. You’ll want to put them in piles/mounds so they can spread out as the oven melts them. Place in a 350 degree oven for 10 to 18 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of your pieces. For best results, make sure all mounds of crushed candy are the same size.
For clear windows– use gelatin sheets cut to the appropriate size.
Other options for colorful windows– Gumdrops, Grease wax paper; place a gumdrop on paper; fold paper to cover gum drop, roll with rolling pin until very thin.
Fruit leather, you can roll it out to make it thinner, or just cut to appropriate size.
You can also thin dough, color it and pipe designs using a pastry bag and tip.
All above options can be adhered to the window openings with royal icing.
How to put your house together-
You’ll need a piece of cardboard or a cake board, some royal icing, a disposable pastry bag, and a few basic cake decorating tips (or you can just cut a hole in your pastry bag and use that to pipe).
If you cut out windows during the cutting out/baking stage, you’ll want to apply your “glass” (see above) now. Just adhere it on with some royal icing.
To put your house together, use your royal icing (it should be pretty stiff) to glue each side of your house to the board. You’ll apply royal icing to the bottoms and connecting edges. You may have to hold each side for a few minutes. Once all 4 sides are up, let it set for 5-10 minutes (take a hot cocoa break or pour a glass of wine, the hardest part is over!)
Next, pipe around the top of your house to adhere your roof. You want to let everything set up before adding your roof, or your entire house can cave in! Once the roof is on, you can fill in the seam where the peak of the roof meets with some royal icing. If you want to get fancy, pipe some shells or dots along the seam.
Now the fun part, DECORATE! If you didn’t remember to cut windows out (or opted not to) just pipe them on with some royal icing! Use candies from the dollar store, pre made royal icing Christmas decorations (see below), and any other decorations your heart desires! To finish my house I like to add a little “landscaping” by adding some royal icing and edible glitter to the base of my board for snow. Plastic trees dipped in royal icing to make them “snow covered” are also an easy and impressive addition! I even like to include a candy cobblestone walkway, but again, I take gingerbread house building way too seriously.
That’s it, you now have just about everything you’ll need to know on how to make a gingerbread house!
Supplies to make the job easier-
Now that you know how to make a gingerbread house, you may want to have some supplies handy to help you with the job. Here’s our recommendations to get you started!
A Gingerbread house bake set
Royal Icing Mix
Parchment Silicone Pan Liners
Edible royal icing decorations
Rose wood cookie sticks
Disposable Pastry Bags
Learning how to make a gingerbread house should be fun and memorable for all ages. I hope our tradition and story will inspire you to give it a try, and if you have questions along the way, drop us a line, we are ALWAYS happy to help.