How to create a gingerbread house

Don't limit your creative flair to the holidays. Edible housing for Easter, Valentines' Day or Halloween can be fun - the key to success for this architectural endeavor is prior planning and patience! We have some great ideas online for your next gingerbread project!

Helpful Hints:

  • Cut the basic structure templates for your house from poster board or cardboard and test first by taping the pieces together. If it will stand, then most likely the design will be structurally safe for your gingerbread house. If you don't know where to start, use a handy pre-made stencil design or cutters available from Kitchen Krafts!
  • Prepare a base for your house. Use a cake board, or cover a large heavy platter with foil. You will want to be able to move the entire structure easily.
  • The dimensions of your gingerbread house will be restricted to the size of a 12-by 15-inch baking sheet, so cut your templates accordingly.

Make the Gingerbread:

  • 1-cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small pan, cook corn syrup, brown sugar and vegetable shortening over medium heat, stirring until smooth. In a large bowl, combine flour, ginger and cinnamon. Mix well. Add corn syrup mixture, stirring until dough forms. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough - 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. Cut out shapes; place 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Bake 10 to 15 minutes. Place sheets on racks; cool slightly. Trim cookies; cool completely.
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 allot plenty of time to put the pieces together.

Make the icing "glue"*

  • 3 cups sifted confectioners sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 tsp. water
  • With an electric mixer, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and water until frothy. Mix in powdered sugar; beat on high speed until icing is stiff, 5 to 10 minutes. Use, or cover up to 8 hours. Makes about 1-1/2 cups.
    *Instead of creating your own icing, you can just add water to our royal icing mix which works great to hold walls together.

    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. 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 a generous amount of icing to one side of the joint. Press un-iced piece to the iced edge and hold until the icing sets. If you want more stability, you can also 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.
    Hint: Gelatin sheets work well for cut-out windows.

    Now bring in the kids and the fun begins - the decorating!
    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 cutouts to be applied with icing.
    Decorations are only limited by your imagination. Try bite-size frosted wheat cereal, various shapes of pretzels, gumdrops, chocolate chips, peppermints, licorice,silver dragées, nonpareils, sprinkles, colored sugars, candied cherries and fruits, ice-cream cones, Tootsie Rolls, raisins, nuts, mini-cookies, wafer cookies, popcorn, cranberries, and animal crackers.