Make a gingerbread house with this gingerbread house recipe or use a kit to make a beautiful and fun Christmas centerpiece.
The beauty of creating one is that kids can help, and the finished centerpiece doesn’t have to be perfect.
Gingerbread houses are a log home tradition, and you don’t have to be an artist, a pastry chef or even that creative, to make one that smells great and quickly becomes the center of attention!
Recipe for the House
Traditionally you use human grade ingredients and it is edible, but it’s mostly for display. So, if your kids want to make a few gingerbread cookies on the side, that’s OK. They can eat the project, and you know it won’t harm them!
The main thing is that you need to be flexible and just enjoy the project together…
Making the Dough
Use the patterns below to make templates. Enlarge them on a photocopier to get the size that you want.
1 ½ cups vegetable shortening
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ cups molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 t. salt
6 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
You will need a heavy duty mixer with a paddle attachment. Beat the shortening and brown sugar until fluffy. Mix in the molasses and vanilla.
Combine the dry ingredients in another bowl.
Stir dry ingredients into the shortening mixture and mix until well combined.
Divide the dough into 2 balls, wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Cut Out the Shapes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Roll out dough to 1/4” thick, on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper. If you prefer, you can roll it between 2 sheets of parchment paper.
Remove the top piece of parchment paper.
Use the patterns that you made (See below). Spray templates with cooking oil and position them on the dough.
Cut around the outlines of the templates and cut out the windows (or score them, if you just want to outline them with icing).
Bake the House Pieces
Carefully slide the parchment paper, with the gingerbread house pieces onto a baking sheet. Make sure the pieces lie flat.
Bake at 350 F until the gingerbread house pieces are firm, but not hard to the touch, about 20-25 minutes.
Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes. Then carefully transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Decorate Your Gingerbread House
When you make a gingerbread house, the most fun is decorating the house! This is where your imagination can go wild. And your kids will love this part!
Beat the sugar, water and meringue powder in a medium bowl at high speed for 8-10 minutes, until it is stiff.
You can color the icing with food coloring, but traditional gingerbread house icing is white, to simulate snow on the house. To color the icing, divide the icing into 3 bowls. Color one red, one green and leave one white. If you do this, work fast.
Spoon some of the icing into a pastry bag with a #3 decorating tip.
Cover the rest of the icing, as it can dry and get hard fast–very hard.
Put the House Together
Use a plate or piece of cardboard for the base (what you’ll set the Gingerbread House on).
The trickiest part when you make a gingerbread house is assembling the pieces. You will use the royal icing as “glue” to hold the pieces together and to attach candy, nuts or other decorations to the house.
Using the pastry bag, pipe icing along the edges of the gingerbread house pieces.
Hold the pieces in place or prop them up until the icing begins to harden. Make the sides of the house first; then attach the roof last.
How to Decorate Your Project
This is where the fun begins when you make a gingerbread house! I’ll give you some ideas to get you started. And make sure you check out my gingerbread house pictures here for more ideas.
Log house – Use your pastry tube to make the chinking on a log cabin. The gingerbread has the color of stained logs.
Doors and windows – pipe icing for a door, wreath and windows. Add little candies to the wreath for color and texture.
Porch or deck – use flat candy (chocolate?) to form a flat surface in front of the gingerbread house.
Snow – White snow on the roof and the lawn makes your gingerbread house look wintry.
Roof – Slivered almonds give your gingerbread house roof a tiled look.
Bushes – use green icing to make little bushes
Berries – pipe little dots onto the bushes to make red berries.
Sugar crystals – will give your gingerbread house some sparkle
Candy canes – fun to add. Use them to line the path to your house.
Path to the house – use pretty candies to lead guest to your gingerbread house.
You’ll think of even more ways to make your gingerbread house special. Make sure you check out my gingerbread house pictures for more ideas.