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 classroom 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 before decorating their gingerbread houses. I took gingerbread house making 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.
My mother Rita created gingerbread houses that you could stare at for hours, they would have you lost in awe. 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 mom. 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 mom 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!
Making Gingerbread Dough
Our dough recipe is dairy and egg free-- perfect for making ornaments and gingerbread houses that won't spoil if left out for too long, and the dough can be made a month in advance, a win for busy moms during the holidays! It makes a hard cookie that will be strong and stable for making your gingerbread houses, so it won't crumble or crack!
Coloring the Dough
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 add any gel food coloring you wish-- Americolor gel food coloring is ideal for this because it's very pigmented.
Rolling out and cutting the dough
Roll the dough out on parchment or silicone liners using 2 dowel rods on each side of your dough while rolling, this will keep the thickness consistent. Cut out your gingerbread house pieces using a cutter set. When cutting out your gingerbread house, keep in mind how you space it, so they don't bake into each other. They will bake on that same sheet of parchment and in the same spots, they're cut. You don't want to move or lift the cut-out dough, doing so will distort the shape. Remove the excess dough, lift parchment and place on a cookie sheet for baking.
Customizing Your Gingerbread House
Cut windows and doors into your gingerbread house before baking, just use a craft knife!
You can also add pattern imprinting such as roof shingles, stone, brick, and even siding. You can leave an imprint on the dough using a toothpick, or by using an impression mat.
You can even add candy glass to your windows! Glass looking 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.
You can also make clear windows using gelatin sheets cut to the appropriate size, just use a little royal icing to adhere it to the inside of your windows before assembling your gingerbread house.
How To Assemble Your Gingerbread House
You'll need a piece of cardboard or a cake board, some royal icing, a disposable pastry bag, and a few basic piping 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" now. Just adhere it on with some royal icing.
To put your house together, use some 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 sit 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 to the roof. Everything needs to set up before adding the 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 royal icing. If you want to get fancy, pipe icing 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 royal icing! Use candies from the dollar store, pre-made royal icing Christmas decorations and any other decorations your heart desires!
I like to add a little "landscaping" to my gingerbread masterpiece by adding royal icing and edible glitter to the base of the board for snow. Lightly rolling plastic tree decorations into royal icing will give them a snow-covered look and also look adorable! Top it all off with a candy cobblestone walkway and you're instantly a gingerbread house making hero!
- 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
Gingerbread House Recipe
- 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 the dough is not crumbly. Knead your dough on the counter top until everything is fully incorporated.
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.