DIY: Gingerbread House

Ready to make a gingerbread house that will impress friends and family alike? But are you also prepared to sacrifice countless hours into creating the best gingerbread house you ever did see? If the answer is yes, you’re ready to take your gingerbread house making ability to the next level.

GINGERBREAD INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups shortening
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp molasses
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp ginger
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup water

**I use this recipe (with a slight modification) and have found it is the best for making gingerbread houses since it produces a firm dough.

ICING INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 large egg whites (OR 9 Tbsp liquid egg whites)
  • 4 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • optional: food colouring

OTHER SUPPLIES:

  • Construction paper
  • ruler
  • rolled wafer cookies
  • vanilla frosting
  • decorating icing tube (chocolate, white, and green)
  • parchment paper
  • 1- 1 1/2 cups mints

Instructions for Creating your Gingerbread House

  1. Design. You’ll start by designing your gingerbread house. Below, you can see the design I sketched out and modelled my house after. Don’t get too fixated on drawing every detail. At this stage you just need a general idea of what you want it to look like so that you can make the cookie pieces. 1-design
  2. Stencil cut-outs. Draw the individual cookie pieces you’ll need for assembly. Use a ruler to measure each piece onto construction paper. Don’t forget to create interior supports to hold everything together, as well as smaller sections that may easily be forgotten in your picture but which are vital in holding your house together. For an idea of how I approached my gingerbread house, the stencils are shown below.
  3. Prepare dough. Use a mixer to combine the shortening, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Once incorporated, add eggs one at a time and beat until fluffy. Add the molasses, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and ginger. Slowly mix in the flour, adding in small portions at a time. Knead the dough until it is dense and can form a ball. Add approx. 1/4 cup water into the dough to transform the crumbly dough into a soft yet dense gingerbread dough.
  4. Roll out & cut dough. Roll out dough directly onto a slightly greased piece of parchment paper. The dough should be about 2-3mm thick. Hold the sides of the parchment paper and lift rolled out dough onto baking sheet. Place stencils on top of dough and use a butter knife to cut around the edges. Ensure you leave 2 cm between each piece.
  5. Cook pieces. Put baking pan in oven at 375 degrees F for 10-14 minutes. Personally, 11 minutes seemed like the perfect amount of time for my cookies. They should be slightly golden brown around the edges. An undercooked piece could mean a possible house collapse, while well overcooked pieces will make it difficult to work with in the next step.
  6. Re-cut gingerbread pieces. Once the cookies have been removed from the oven, you’ll notice that the pieces have expanded. Take the same stencil you used to cut the original piece, place on top, and re-cut edges to the exact shape of your stencil cut-out. You’ll need to work fairly quickly to complete this step, as it gets increasingly difficult to cut the edges once the cookie has cooled.

    12-cut-cookie-pieces-all

    13-round-arch
    To make the arched roof, I took the hot cookie straight out of the oven and transferred it on top of a glass bowl until completely cooled.

    14-round-arch-2

  7. Make windows. Place mints in a ziplock bag and crush using a kitchen hammer (the finer the better). Scoop spoonfuls of crushed mints into window area. Set oven to 350 degrees F and cook for 5-9 minutes.
  8. Create roof. Roll out your black fondant until extremely thin. One by one, place a roof piece onto fondant and cut around it, leaving 1.5cm extra fondant around the edges. Fold the fondant over the edges and press down. Flip over roof piece so that you are looking at a smooth black top. Create black shingle-like shapes by using a butterknife. To do this, lightly press to create thin horizontal lines. Next, go back and etch vertical line to make individual bricks.
  9. Check design. At this point, you’re going to want to check that everything is looking the way you want it to. Below you can see how I overlaid each piece to create the front of the house. 21-check-front-design
  10. Make icing. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in bowl with an electric mixer until creates peaks that hold shape (similar to meringue). Slowly add icing sugar until incorporated and continue to beat for 4-5 minutes, or until icing is thick and holds shape. If you are not using the icing right away, cover completely and put in the fridge.
  11. Assembly. Start the assembly of your house by piping icing to the bottom and side of one of your mid-supports. Find the piece that makes up the back of your house and ice the bottom. Place them onto a tray in a T-shape. This will help hold everything together so that you can add both side pieces and additional inner-support (as shown below). You may need an additional set of hands to help hold the initial pieces up for you.
  12. Attach garage. Continue icing the sides of each piece to connect gingerbread cookies together. I found it easiest to attach the pieces for the garage next.  24-assemble-3
  13. Assemble the front. In my model, the front of the house is made up of 3 sections. I iced and added the sides first, followed by the middle section which I overlapped a bit on the side pieces. Once this is done, the main structure has been pieced together. 25-assemble-4
  14. Finish windows & doors. I decided that I wasn’t quite satisfied with the look of the windows so I smoothed icing over the areas. I kept the bottom two windows with the stain glass effect though since I liked the different look it gave. Next, I iced the back of a bar of white chocolate and stuck it to the garage, creating the garage door. I broke off a smaller piece and completed the same process to make the front door.26-icing-windows-and-chocolate-trim
  15. Chocolate detailing. Outline all the windows and then have fun creating details that compliment you house exterior. 27-chocolate-icing-details
  16. Secondary roofs. Use step 9 to create the two small roofs. I then measured and cut the rolled wafers to act as columns. Make sure you cut each piece on an angle so that they conform to the angle of the roof. Attach to the roof and bottom tray using icing.
  17. Main roofs. Grab the main roof that you set aside previously and place it on top of your house. The same can be done with the garage roof. Because the fondant makes the roof a bit thicker, you may get a gap at the top of the roof and possible near the edges. To create a better tip on top of the roof, ice the bottom and sides of a rolled wafer cookie and place on top (or where ever you need a spot to be filled). Cover these areas with a strip of black fondant which you can also etch with shingles.
  18. Decorate with icing. I used different attachments on my piping bag to achieve different effects to the design. With this, I added the greenery and covered any unsightly seams with white icing. Finally, I used two extra cookies I had and used them as a walkway from the front door and covered the surrounding area and front yard with vanilla frosting.

    Whether you want to use this tutorial to create a mansion or a small quaint gingerbread house, I wish you the best on your gingerbread endeavours this holiday season! This could also be a fun activity to do with friends or family… and there is just enough time before Christmas 😀

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