How To Make A Gingerbread House | Tips & Recipes

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How to make a Gingerbread House: recipes and hints and tips for putting it all together.

For four years running my neighbour, Susannah Munroe, has made the gingerbread creation for our annual event, Crosby’s Gingerbread Trail. It’s a magical journey of gingerbread creations in uptown Saint John, NB.

Susannah’s creations are always impressive with a magical old fashioned charm. She lets the gingerbread shine and goes easy on the candy extras so the houses she creates for Crosby Molasses have a warm traditional feel.

Here Susannah shares her hints and tips for making a fun and memorable gingerbread house.

How to Make a Gingerbread House

Planning the house:

Making the dough:

  • Make sure you use a gingerbread house dough recipe, NOT a cookie recipe, as they are often tastier, but softer. You need a strong dough to stand up (see suggested recipe below).
  • Mix dough, wrap and refrigerate.
  • Roll out, trace patterns, cut out, freeze or chill before baking.

How to make a Gingerbread House: recipes and hints and tips for putting it all together.

Putting it all together:

  • Once baked, trim edges to match templates (straight edges are much easier to “glue”)
  • Determine what material will be the base for your structure (ex. cardboard, cake board, plywood.)
  • For a basic house shape, “glue”, with royal icing (recipe below), a front and side piece, then the other side and back of the structure.  Allow the base to set (let icing harden for one hour, or up to overnight) before moving on to the roof or upper structures. (Remember to build your house on the base.)

Extras:

  • Easy “stained glass” windows: jolly rancher candies melt easily on the stove top and come in a variety of colors.  Choose one color (i.e. yellow) or mix a few to achieve a stained glass appearance.  Melt candies and pour into a window opening on a baked piece of your gingerbread house. (Ensure that the piece is on parchment or waxed paper.)
  • Lighting: battery operated tea lights or pillar candles work well inside a gingerbread structure.  Colored or flickering options are available.  A small flashlight propped up would also work.
  • Accessories: scrap dough can be moulded into shutters, doors, window boxes, trees, animals, people…
  • Pretzels, pretzel sticks or candy sticks can make nice fencing materials.  The bulk food stores carry many useful items, even chocolate candy rocks-which look great on a chimney or path!
  • The internet is a wonderful resource for recipes, ideas and how to videos.

How to make a Gingerbread House: recipes and hints and tips for putting it all together.

Susannah’s Gingerbread Dough Recipe (for building, not eating)

You may need several batches depending on the size of your structure.

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 ½ cups Crosby’s fancy Molasses
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 cups flour
  • 4 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ – ½ cup water*
  1. Melt shortening in saucepan on stove or in a large bowl in the microwave.
  2. Cool slightly and add molasses and sugar. Mix well.
  3. Whisk spices with two cups of the flour and add to molasses mixture. Add remaining flour 2 cups at a time, along with ¼ cup of water.
  4. Mix well and add enough remaining water so dough is not crumbly.
  5. Knead dough until smooth, shape into two discs, bag and refrigerate overnight (or for a few days.)

*Add more water, a tablespoon at a time, if your dough is crumbly.

When ready to bake:

  1. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Roll dough 1/4″ thick and cut according to your template.
  3. Bake at 325 F until firm but not too dark around the edges, about 12-15 minutes.
  4. Cool completely before assembling your house.

It makes a nice dough. I vary the spice/water amounts to what works.   I usually let it sit in the fridge for a few days too.  So I started with 3 batches.  Then I  make it as needed.

 

Royal Icing (The glue that holds it together!)

  • 1 pound (3-3/4 cups) icing sugar, sifted if lumpy
  • 1 to 2 large egg whites, or substitute 4 teaspoons meringue powder (find at Michael’s or Bulk Barn) and 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  1. Mix all of the ingredients together using an electric hand mixer, until the icing is smooth and thin enough to be pressed through a pastry bag with a writing tip. Add more lemon juice or water, if necessary.

You may need several batches depending on the size of your structure.

Visit King Arthur Flour for more hints and tips for making gingerbread houses.

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23 thoughts on “How To Make A Gingerbread House | Tips & Recipes

  1. Lorraine says:

    That is amazing; not sure if I’m brave enough to try it though.

    1. Hi Lorraine, I hear you. If you try and fail, at least you still have delicious dough to snack on!

      1. Nancy LeB says:

        it says for building not eating ?

        1. Hi Nancy, This is a construction gingerbread recipe so it’s more sturdy. It’s edible but not as yummy as so many other gingerbread cookie recipes on the site.

  2. Lorraine says:

    That is amazing; not sure if I’m brave enough to try it though.

  3. Bonnie Leblanc says:

    At what temperature and for how long do you bake

    1. Hi Bonnie, I’m so sorry that the information is missing. Thanks for pointing it out. You can bake your gingerbread house pieces at 325 F for 12-15 minutes. (You want them to be firm and golden.)

  4. Rose Gallant says:

    Hi. when I click on the “Here are some template design ideas:” it won’t open. Any suggestions?

    1. Dear Rose, Thanks for pointing out the broken link. I have updated it with a link to 20 free gingerbread house design templates.

      1. Barbara Berner says:

        Can you update it again. I’d love to have a good template to work from. Thanks so much!!!!!

  5. Courtney snider says:

    I just made the dough for a rather large house and the dough it’s self is very very hard is that normal?

    1. Hi Courtney, The dough should be stiffer than cookie dough but still pliable. Did you end up adding the full half cup of water? Also, did you spoon the flour into the measuring cup? Let me know if you were able to work with it.

  6. Barbara Berner says:

    Can you update it again. I’d love to have a good template to work from. Thanks so much!!!!!

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Barbara, I just realized that the original link to gingerbread house templates is no longer valid so I added a new link to the website: https://www.pinterest.ca/search/pins/?q=Gingerbread%20house%20template%20printable&rs=guide

  7. Pam says:

    HI There,

    I’ve made this dough and I can’t roll it out without cracks etc. I’ve tried different things and this dough is still useless. I’m throwing it away and trying someone else’s recipe.

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Pam, I went back to our gingerbread house expert who supplied the recipe and she said that happens to her from time to time. If the dough is too crumbly she just adds a bit more water, one tablespoon at a time. this is her tried and true recipe that she uses every year and the fact that it gets crumbly sometimes hasn’t deterred her.

  8. Darlene says:

    What size house would 1 batch of your recipe make?

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Darlene, One batch would make a very small house. The woman who gave me the recipe (and who makes the Crosby Molasses gingerbread house each year) makes at least six batches for a big house. I hope that this helps.

  9. Graeme says:

    Hi there,
    Any chance we could speed up the waiting process? Rather put the house together tonight? Would having it in the fridge for a few hours work?

    thanks for your time,

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Graeme,
      Yes, definitely. A couple of hours in the fridge should be fine. Enjoy!

  10. Liz Myers says:

    It worked for me with just a couple hours in the fridge, and rolled out fine 🙂 The one batch made enough for this (small but not too simple) house: https://www.kitchentrials.com/2012/12/12/victorian-gingerbread-house-template/

  11. MICHELLE DAMRON says:

    How long from baking to showing will the house last. I have 2 weeks and want to make it now.

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Michelle, Your gingerbread house can last for months as long as it doesn’t get bumped or wet.

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