Craft Your Very Own Gingerbread House
The holidays just aren’t the same until there’s a gingerbread house involved. This homemade gingerbread house recipe is easy to make, fun to decorate, and delicious to eat. Making a gingerbread house from scratch is so much better than using a kit. The cookies are soft and chewy, yet crunchy and sturdy with crisp edges. And it makes the house just smell like the Holidays! It is sure to delight whether you’re building it as décor for the window or dessert after the big holiday dinner. This classic gingerbread house recipe with template gives you a step-by-step guide for both the gingerbread cookie structure and the royal icing to hold everything together.
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST GINGERBREAD HOUSE
In a large mixing bowl, whisk to combine flour, ginger, cinnamon, all spice, salt, and baking soda. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, add egg, melted butter, brown sugar, molasses, and water. Use a hand mixer to beat on medium speed until combined, about a minute. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until just combined, and there are no dry flour particles. Use your hands to form the ball into a dough and divide into two balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap tightly with plastic cling wrap. Chill overnight (or at least for 2 hours). When it’s ready, on a large piece of parchment paper, roll out one dough disc at a time to 1/4 inch thickness. If the parchment paper is slipping around too much, place it on a baking mat to keep it in place while you roll. Next, cut out the shapes from a Gingerbread House Template or try your hand at your own. Use a pizza cutter for the edges and a knife for finer details like the windows.
For the front of the house, cut out the circular window. Trace the shape for the door but don’t completely cut it. You will cut it after baking to better hold its shape. For the back of the house, just cut the outline. You do not need to cut out a window or door. Bake in a 375 F preheated oven for 8-10 minutes until the edges have set. Within the first couple of minutes, use a knife to cut out the door and set it aside on the baking sheet. Allow the gingerbread to cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes. Then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Add hard candies (optional). Carefully transfer the cut pieces onto two the half sheet baking pans lined with a silicone baking mat. *For a stained glass look- place a whole jolly rancher into each of the windows. These hard candies will melt to give a stained glass window effect.
HOW TO MAKE ROYAL ICING
Beat the egg whites with an electric hand mixer (or stand mixer) for 10 seconds. Add cream of tartar and beat in. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time. Beat at high speed for 5 minutes until the icing is very stif f. If the icing is too wet, add a little more sugar. If it’s too thick, add a teaspoon of water at a time until desired consistency is reached. You want icing that will easily come out of the piping bag but that will keep it’s shape (not runny). Keep the bowl covered with a wet towel when not using as the icing dries up very quickly.
HOW TO ASSEMBLE THE GINGERBREAD HOUSE
Make a base for the gingerbread house. *Cut a piece of cardboard and wrap it with aluminum tin foil. Attach one corner of the house. Use a piping bag with the no. 5 round tip secured to pipe a thick line along the side of the front piece of the house. Take a side piece and attached it together. Hold it upright onto the base. Then, run thick line of royal icing along the bottom of the two pieces of the house on the inside to help attach it to the base. Hold the two pieces together for a minute or two while the icing sets partially. Attach the other corner of the house. Run a thick line of royal icing along the exposed side edge of the side piece and attach the back of the house. Then, run another thick line of royal icing along the exposed side edges of the back of the house and front of the house and attach the other side piece. Run a thick line of royal icing along the bottom of these two pieces on the inside of the house. Run a thick line of royal icing along all corners of the house from the inside. Hold together for a minute or two while the icing sets partially. You can use a glass or cans to help prop it up if needed. Let it set for one hour before adding the roof.
Add the roof. Run a thick line of royal icing along the left top side edges of the front and back, and left side piece. Place one of the roof pieces on top and hold it in place for a couple minutes. Run a thick line of royal icing along the right side, and along the center of the attached roof and add the other roof. Run a thick line of royal icing along the center where the two roof pieces meet, if necessary. Hold it in place for a couple of minutes.
Make the chimney. Use royal icing to attach the chimney pieces together. Then run a thick line of royal icing along the bottom of the chimney (where the slanted pieces are) and adhere them to the roof. Hold in place until slightly set, a couple minutes.
Attach the door. Run a thick line of royal icing along the left side of the door piece and attach it to the house slightly ajar.
Hold it in place until slightly set. Seal it together. You can pipe an extra layer of royal icing along the roof and along the edges in a dripping pattern to make it look like snow. Allow everything to set before decorating, about one hour.
Add patterns. Secure a no. 1 round tip to the piping bag. Pipe a scalloped pattern on the roof to resemble shingles. Outline the windows and add decorative dots and squiggles.
Add snow. Take some confectioners’ sugar and use a fine mesh strainer to add “snow” on the top of the roof. You can also sprinkle some shredded coconut on the base to resemble snow on the ground.
Decorate with candy. Pipe a thick layer of royal icing along the edges or wherever you want to stick candies on. Then stick the candies on top.
For the Gingerbread House:
2 + ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground all spice
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
½ cup butter, melted and cooled
½ cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup molasses
1 tablespoon water
*jolly ranchers optional
For the royal icing:
2 large egg whites
2 + ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
(optional for flavor)
RECIPE TIPS AND TRICKS
Allow the gingerbread to cool: You may feel impatient to build your festive gingerbread home, but patience is important here. If your gingerbread is warm, the icing will melt and create a sticky mess instead of working as glue to hold the cookies in place.
Allow the icing to set: As you build your gingerbread house, you will need to hold certain pieces in place for a few minutes and let it set fully at various stages. For the best results, you need to be patient.
How to store a gingerbread house: Store your assembled gingerbread house covered at room temperature for up to 2-3 weeks. It may be tricky to covered a fully decorated gingerbread house, but try to cover it loosely with plastic cling wrap.
Displaying your house: Be mindful that gingerbread houses that are left uncovered as a display will collect dust and other household debris. If you plan on putting out your masterpiece on display for a few weeks, you may want to reconsider eating it.