Gingerbread House Recipe and Building Tips

Gingerbread House Recipe and Building Tips – make your own gingerbread house with this DIY homemade gingerbread house recipe. This Ginger Bread House recipe, instructions, storage, building and decoration tips are a great step-by-step guide to building an awesome gingerbread house.

The giant gingerbread house at the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester is inspiring, so I decided to post this recipe courtesy of our friends at the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House.

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Gingerbread House Recipe 

altGingerbread House Recipe – Cookie Dough Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1-1/3 cups light or dark molasses
  • 9 cups all-purpose flour

Gingerbread House Recipe – Building the Foundation

  • Line 12 x 15-inch rimless baking sheets with parchment paper
  • In a small bowl, whip cream and vanilla until it holds soft peaks. Set aside
  • In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon
  • Beat in the molasses and whipped cream mixture until well-combined
  • With mixer running, gradually add flour, beating until completely mixed

Lightly flour a pastry board or mat. Roll out a portion of the dough until flat, but not so thin that you cannot pick it up without it tearing. Drape it over the rolling pin and move to the prepared baking sheet.

Continue rolling the dough to an even thickness on the baking sheet. This is easily achieved by placing two equally thick wooden strips on either side of the baking sheet to support the rolling pin. An even thickness is important. Lower areas will bake darker in color and be more brittle. You will need about 2 cups of dough for each 1/8-inch thickness, about 4 cups for each 1/4-inch slab, and about 6 cups for each 3/8-inch slab.

Bake two sheets of dough at a time. Bake until fairly firm in the center. The temperature and time will vary with the thickness of the slab. For 1/8-thick slabs, bake in preheated 300 F. oven for about 1 hour; for 1/4-inch slabs, bake at 275 F. about 1-3/4 hours; and for 3/8-inch slabs, bake at 275 F. about 2-1/4 hours.

After 30 minutes, position your gingerbread house pattern cut-outs as close together as possible on the sheet of cookies. Cut around the pattern with a sharp knife, remove the pattern, and separate the scrap pieces (may be baked later to eat). Return house pieces to the oven, swapping their rack positions, and continue to bake.

While the pieces are baking, any remaining dough may be rolled out for cookies or additional decorative gingerbread house pieces.

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When pieces are finished baking, loosen gently with a flat spatula and let them cool on the sheet another 5 to 10 minutes before moving to a rack to cool completely.

At this point, you may wrap the gingerbread house pieces airtight in plastic wrap and store up to one month. Or proceed to assemble and decorate your house using icing cement (below).

Yield: about 9 cups dough, or 4-1/2 slabs 1/8 inch thick, 2-1/2 slabs 1/4 inch thick, or 1-1/2 slabs 3/8 inch thick. Each full slab is 10 by 15 inches.

Gingerbread House Recipe – Frosting “Cement” Ingredients

• 2 large egg whites
• 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
• 2 teaspoons water
• 3 cups sifted powdered sugar

Gingerbread House Recipe – Frosting “Cement” Instructions

Beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and water until frothy. Blend in sugar on high-speed until stiff, 5 to 10 minutes. Use immediately or cover and use within 8 hours.

Yield: about 1-1/2 cups icing

Gingerbread House Recipe – Building Tips

The construction of your gingerbread house will closely follow the building concepts of a real house. Proper planning is essential. You can make the gingerbread ahead of time, making sure to let it thoroughly cool in a dry area before wrapping securely to store. Be sure to allow plenty of time to put the pieces together.

The recipe can be used for not only a gingerbread house with icing, but also gingerbread cookies. Here are a few simple tips to help you build your own gingerbread house…

  • Cut the basic structure templates for your house from posterboard and test first by taping the pieces together. If it will stand as made out of posterboard, then most likely it will be structurally safe for your gingerbread house.
  • Do not limit yourself to a plain box house. You can make virtually any shape, from igloo to Victorian to farmhouse. Or, use a loaf mold in the shape of a house to eliminate the construction steps.
  • Prepare a base for your house. Use a piece of plywood covered with foil, a large heavy platter or baking tray. You will want to be able to move the entire structure easily. You can use a sheet of gingerbread on top of the base if you wish, but it is not necessary.
  • Keep in mind that the dimensions of your gingerbread house will be restricted to the size of a 12-by 15-inch baking sheet, and cut your templates accordingly.
  • Maximum thickness for dough should be 3/8-inch. For houses larger than 6 inches square, use 1/4-inch thickness and for smaller houses, use 1/8-inch. Weight-bearing walls should be just slightly thicker.
  • If you want the walls covered in icing, you may need to thin the icing with a few drops of water and then spread gently on the sides before assembling. Let sit for the icing to dry.
  • When assembling, apply the “glue” icing using a pastry bag, and let sit for 30 minutes to set before actually assembling. This will help the pieces adhere better, resulting in a more stable structure.
  • When assembling, apply a generous (but not dripping) amount of icing glue to one side of the joint. Press un-iced piece to the iced edge and hold briefly until the icing sets. If you want more stability, you can also icing-glue the walls to the base.
  • For the icing decoration, use a pastry bag with various decorating tips or a knife. You can easily fill in gaps and smooth construction errors with icing and candy decorations. Wipe off smudges or drips with a clean, damp paper towel.
  • To apply candy decorations, dab a small amount of icing to the underside of the candy and hold in place until set.
  • You can use dough scraps to roll out added decorative cut-outs to be applied with icing glue. These cutouts can be impressed with designs before baking.

Gingerbread House Recipe – Storage Tips

Moisture and humidity will be the worst enemy (other than nibbling children!) of your gingerbread house, so be sure and display it in a cool, dry place. You may wish to cover it at night with plastic wrap to not only seal out moisture, but also dust, bugs, and other errant inedibles.

Properly sealed and protected, it is actually possible to keep a gingerbread house up to a year.

For non-edible creations, spray with a clear lacquer (available at craft and hardware stores). You may need several coats for maximum protection.

Gingerbread House Recipe – Decoration Tips

Here comes the fun part: decoration! Decorations are only limited by your imagination. Try gumdrops, chocolate chips, peppermints, candy swirl sticks, licorice, M&M’s®, Snow-Caps®, Red Hots®, silver dragées, nonpareils, sprinkles, colored sugars, Necco’s® (good for roof), Frosted Shredded Mini-Wheats® or Wheat Chex® (good for a thatched roof look), candied cherries and fruits, Tootsie Rolls® (good for fences and tree trunks), raisins, nuts, mini-cookies, wafer cookies, popcorn, cranberries, and animal crackers. Let your imagination run free! 

See related posts below for more fun holiday and Christmas recipes.

FEATURE PHOTO – courtesy of pixabay.com

Special thanks to Edsel & Eleanor Ford House the for this Gingerbread House Recipe

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