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How to Make a Gingerbread House

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how to make a gingerbread house

Yesterday I gave you my favorite recipe for gingerbread. Today I am going to give you some pointers and tips for putting together a gingerbread house. If you have any that you would like to share, (and please do), let us know in the comments section.

One of the most fun parties I have ever been to was given by my friends Beth and Colleen. They sent an invite to a gingerbread house making party and on the invitation was a pattern and a recipe. You brought the baked pieces and she supplied the rest. When we got there, everyone had a spot, a cake round to put them on, a piping bag full of royal icing, and every kind of candy that you can imagine. Her dad even took the mirrors out of dollar store compacts to make skating ponds with. We sat there for hours, assembling our houses, decorating, and talking and I still remember it as one of the most favorite Christmas memories.

I really like making gingerbread houses with my children, but I feel that I must tell you a few things first to prepare you. 1. It will make a giant mess, over the course of a few days. 2. Your children will eat more candy in one sitting than they probably will eat in a month. 3. It will be so much fun that it will be totally worth having dried royal icing all over your house and hyper children.

The first thing that I am going to recommend if this is your first gingerbread house is to start small. I have made many houses before, but this year we invited a friend over to make a house with us and I wanted it to be really fun and not stressful. I found this cute little elf cottage pattern at Simply Recipes (there are some good tips in this article as well). It is the perfect size for children and beginners. There are tons of patterns out there on the ol’ Interweb so take a peek around and find something that you like. I really like the train from Family Fun and have made it a few times. It is also good for beginners.

how to make a gingerbread house

When you make your dough, it needs to chill for at least 4 hours, better yet, overnight. Print out your pattern. I use card stock so that the pieces are sturdier. Roll out the dough fairly thick and lay the pattern pieces on top. I like to cut out my pieces using a pizza cutter. Put them on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake them. Leave them on the cookie sheet until they are completely cool. I made 4 houses, so I did this 4 times. Make sure that you have all of your pieces cut out. Double check. Nothing is worse than trying to assemble a house and realizing that you forgot to cut out one side of the house. I should mention that I used 2 batches of gingerbread for these 4 houses. I had just enough. I would make 3 batches if I were doing this again. I would have liked to have made people also.

how to make a gingerbread house

In a perfect and completely organized world, you would let these sit overnight. You want them to be really solid for building.

how to make a gingerbread house

Now you need some glue. Otherwise known as royal icing. Use whatever recipe you like, but I like this one:

4 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons meringue powder
5-7 Tablespoons water

Sift the sugar and meringue powder into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add 5 Tablespoons of water. Use the paddle and mix on medium for about 7 to 10 minutes. You want this to be fairly thick. It is going to be what holds the house together. If you need to, add a bit more water. Drops at a time. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it is amazing how royal icing can go from so close to runny in a matter of seconds. Go slowly. Put the icing in a piping bag fitted with a round tip. I used an Ateco #10, it was the perfect size for assembling the house. Royal icing will last overnight as long as it is in an airtight container. However, it will not last if it is in a piping bag overnight. The water will start to separate and it will run. So at the end of the day, pipe whatever is left in the piping bag into the container and start with a fresh piping bag the next day.

how to make a gingerbread house

Get yourself something to make the house on. I like these 10-inch cake rounds that I got at a bakery supply store. Michaels has them too. I have also used wood. They need to be sturdy as the house can get pretty heavy. I like to start with a right angle. Usually the back piece and one of the sides. I pipe the bottom and put the piece down on it. Then I pipe the seams. Let it rest for a few minutes and start to harden before you move on. I use something (like this little milk jug) to prop them while the dry. Do the other side and let that rest. Add the front. I was making 4 houses, so by the time I got back to the first one, it was set enough to move on. This part is really important as it will make life so much easier when you are decorating. It will not fall apart and the kids will not be freaking out that the roof has caved in.

how to make a gingerbread house

Let the base dry for a bit before you add the roof. I piped a little scallop on the bottom because it looks cute, but it also adds a bit of structure and stability to the house. When you are ready to add the roof, pipe icing around the edges of one side. Place your cookie piece on the icing and keep for hand on it for a minute or two. You really want it to stick. The roof is always the hardest part for me. When the one side is hard, add the other side.

how to make a gingerbread house

Your house should be put together. I do this the day before I am going to decorate it. I know that we are now on Day 3 of gingerbread house making, but I did warn you that it would take a few days. If you do not have the time to let it sit, it is not the end of the world. Just be more careful about handling it.

how to make a gingerbread house

Now for the most fun part, decorating. Do yourself a favor and buy a disposable tablecloth to go over your work area. Have everything set out and ready to go. The piping bags had an Ateco #3 tip on them. We had M&Ms, licorice, Dots, Starlite Mints, gummy bears, sprinkles, coconut, ice cream cones, all kinds of fun stuff. I like to formulate a plan before I start, but the kids just go town.

how to make a gingerbread house

Will took his house making very seriously. See how his house is leaning? I did not let the icing set long enough before I started to put the houses together. Do as I say, not as I do.

how to make a gingerbread house

Andrew made a gingerbread firehouse. We had a to give more than one lesson on proper piping bag technique. It was fun to see the kids use their imagination.

how to make a gingerbread house

Will put a gummy bear walking in to his house. He really was into this house making. He sat there for almost 2 hours and barely made a peep.

how to make a gingerbread house

Matthew liked sampling. Well, so did Andrew. Okay, so did everyone. I am in no hurry to eat another M&M anytime soon.

how to make a gingerbread house

We had such a good time. We sat at the table working on our houses for over 2 hours. The kids had a ball and so did the moms.

how to make a gingerbread house

Here are some cute ideas for gingerbread houses and gingerbread making parties: Family Fun
Pictures of gingerbread houses
Oven Love Gingerbread House Making Party
Pizzazzerie’s Gingerbread Party

Erin wolfe

Saturday 19th of December 2015

Love your tips, very helpful! Here's how mine turned out... https://www.facebook.com/enlightenedspa/videos/807981249313622/

Andrea (questfordelish)

Friday 16th of December 2011

I love making ginger bread houses with my kids. I just added it to my blog and I think next year I will attempt to make our own from scratch. Thanks for the great tips.

bakedbree

Sunday 18th of December 2011

Me too! I glad that tips are helpful to you.

Erica

Sunday 4th of December 2011

Had our annual gingerbread party last night. Wanted to let you know that your recipe/ideas were great! I usually buy the gingerbread house kit but it could be pricey especially buying six houses. This was my first time making a gingerbread house and it was easy and they came out perfect!!. My guest were amazed that they were homemade they commented that they looked store bought. Thanks!!!

bakedbree

Sunday 4th of December 2011

I am so glad that it worked out. Those parties are so much fun.

Linda

Wednesday 30th of November 2011

What dimensions are you cute little houses?

bakedbree

Thursday 1st of December 2011

I am not sure exactly, but there is a link to the pattern I used in the content.

Candy from Candied Fabrics

Tuesday 21st of December 2010

So, I've done these parties before, and my secret? Hot glue! No one is gonna eat the houses anyway, so the assembly goes very quickly, you can cover the glued seams with the royal icing and it will look just like it should, but with no waiting for the icing to dry!

bakedbree

Wednesday 22nd of December 2010

that is the best idea ever! Thanks!