Making a Gingerbread House

Gingerbread House

A Family Tradition

One of my family's Christmas traditions is making a gingerbread house. My family and I look forward to making a gingerbread house every year. It can be very time consuming, but the taste of the fresh gingerbread cookies and all of the fun we have is worth the effort. Oh and the wonderful fresh gingerbread smell is amazing. The boys and I make the dough the night before since it needs to be cold so it doesn't stick. The next morning I roll out the dough and cut out the shapes for the walls and roof etc... The boys and I come up with an idea first and cut it out of cardboard. Then we use the cardboard as a stencil. Last year we made a train, but unfortunately I can't find the picture. Then with all of the left over dough the kids use cookie cutters for cookies to decorate.

Gingerbread House 2009

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Royal Icing Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of cold water
  • 4 1/2 cups of confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup of meringue powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice

Mix the meringue powder and cold water together until stiff peaks form. Or If using egg whites then you don't need the water. Just mix the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Then slowly mix in the sugar. Then add the lemon juice. Try a little of the icing before you start. It can be tricky to get it just right. If it is too hard add a little water or if it is to soft add more sugar. Usually any royal icing is too sweat. So I add a few pinches of salt to tone it down a little. You could also try adding a little vanilla extract to get it to taste better. The icing is mostly used as cement so it isn't usually the best tasting. If you have a recipe that tastes better I would love to hear it. You can add food coloring for various colors. You will also need a pastry bag or similar device for dispensing the icing. Cover the unused icing with a damp cloth over the bowl or place in a sealed container or it will harden. 

Gingerbread Cookie Dough Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup of molasses
  • 4 cups of flour
  • 2 tablesppons of cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 and 3/4 tablespoons of ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda

Kitchen Utensils: Electric mixer, large bowl or 2 if using a handheld mixer, spatula, measuring cups and spoons, rolling pin, parchment paper or silpat,

In a large bowl mix the butter and sugar together. Then add the 2 eggs and molasses and keep mixing until smooth. In another bowl sift together all of the dry ingredients. On low speed slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixture until thoroughly combined.

Next split the dough in half and form two discs. Then put the dough in Ziploc bags or cover in saran wrap to go in the fridge overnight or for at least 4 hours. Once the dough is cold it is a lot less sticky to work with. Flour a large area to use to roll out the dough. Add some flour on top of dough to help keep it from sticking to the rolling pin. Roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick. Then cut out your pieces for making the house and place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. If you spray the dough lightly with water or brush very lightly it will have more neatly rounded edges. Bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes. The cookies will turn a lighter brown. Let cookies cool for about 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack or just let them cool longer on the cookie sheet. While cookies are cooking the uncut dough will be getting softer. This is why I use two discs. I can put one back in the fridge to cool while I work with the other one. I use the remaining dough from the house to make gingerbread cookies.

 

Anything you want to share about building a gingerbread house? 37 comments

scottiejd 7 years ago

Great gingerbread house. Plenty of carbs in one spot, for sure


minnow profile image

minnow 7 years ago from Seattle

I like the snowmen! Making gingerbread houses is a lot of fun.


cindyschulson profile image

cindyschulson 7 years ago from San Diego, CA

You are an inspiration. I was proud of myself for making one of the kit houses. I saw this great news story this weekend about the Gingerbread Lady. An 82 year old woman who makes entire villages out of gingerbread, even cookies shaped like Presidents. Very cool. Thanks Jim and happy holiday!


laringo profile image

laringo 7 years ago from From Berkeley, California.

What a nice tradtion to have for your kids. The Gingerbread House turned out great. How long does it last?


NYLady profile image

NYLady 7 years ago from White Plains, NY

Love the photos, Jim. Now that I have college-age students, I made a gingerbread house this year with my younger niece and nephew. When I told my 21-year-old daughter about this, she laughed and said, "Mom, you're pathetic." Great memories, those gingerbread houses.


Jo Kumar profile image

Jo Kumar 7 years ago

HI Jim, great photos. Interesting to hear about "gingerbread House". To me, from India, it is a new thing. I enjoyed it. I believe it may be an American tradition. Maybe, you can throw some light on the historical aspect if you could find.


DarleneMarie profile image

DarleneMarie 7 years ago from USA

FUN! Very nice Hub. That is a great tradition for you and the kids. They will take those memories with them forever.


Lgali profile image

Lgali 7 years ago

very nice Family Tradition


ESAHS 7 years ago

"Holiday activity with sweet rewards!"

"Two thumbs up!"

CEO E.S.A.H.S. Association


jim10 profile image

jim10 7 years ago from ma Author

Thanks everyone I am glad you liked my hub. The kids always have a great time. I'm not up to making a whole village yet. We really like to use the extra gingerbread for cookies that we can eat right away. We try to keep the house until Christmas and then let the kids eat it. Although my wife and I always find pieces of the candy decorations missing on a regular basis. My friend actually made a Halloween styled gingerbread house for her daughter's birthday cake. It seemed like a great idea too.

(Jo) When I get a chance I will add a little about the history of Gingerbread Houses. I usually add some history for my toy hubs but, didn't even think about it for this one.


Netters profile image

Netters 7 years ago from Land of Enchantment - NM

That is just too cute! Love it.


Triplet Mom profile image

Triplet Mom 7 years ago from West Coast

Wow Jim great job, I can never get mine to look right. They look more like shacks than anything else. But I enjoy trying. Thanks!!


jim10 profile image

jim10 7 years ago from ma Author

Triplet Mom, thanks I'm sure your kids think they come out just fine. It really is just the fun making it that matters. I have seen some gingerbread houses on the Food Network and they look amazing. Of course they don't have kids putting on the icing and candy decorations. They also spend a lot more time planning it out and designing it than you or I would. Just keep practicing and when your kids are older they will be making gingerbread mansions.


quicksand profile image

quicksand 7 years ago

Cool hub. I would like to try it out myself. I mean the part that involves eating!


Denny Lyon profile image

Denny Lyon 7 years ago from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

This is a great tradition and kids love it! If you want to kick it up a notch as they get older check out Martha Stewart's site. As usual she is the queen of food fun. There are even special baking molds now for the house - very cool. Your house sounds like fun for sure! I bet the neighbors start showing up in droves because of the gingerbread smells wafting out of your kitchen.


jim10 profile image

jim10 7 years ago from ma Author

Yes, the gingerbread smells amazing and eating the gingerbread men is very tasty too.


robie2 profile image

robie2 7 years ago from Central New Jersey

The Gingerbread house is a great Holiday tradition--you are not only creating a delightful decoration but also beautiful memories for your kids. Very nice!


ahpoetic profile image

ahpoetic 7 years ago

I'm a substitute teacher and a writer and I was talking to my students about making a gingerbread house. It's very interesting that you have a hub about that very thing.


anjalichugh profile image

anjalichugh 7 years ago from New York

The picture looks so attractive; I can only wonder how it tastes!


jim10 profile image

jim10 7 years ago from ma Author

The cookies tasted great. The house however wasn't eaten until after Christmas so it was a little stale. The kids still ate some of it anyway. Maybe we should wait a little longer to make the gingerbread house so it will still taste great. Are whole house filled with the great smell of gingerbread for the whole holiday though.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 7 years ago from Southern California, USA

I love making gingerbread houses, but I have not in years. My niece and nephew make one every year though.


Cherish77 profile image

Cherish77 7 years ago

That's a great tradition. Faith wants me to do one this Christmas. I will give it a shot. I have only done a little mini one with gram crackers, when I was a kid. My usual Christmas tradition is to make Cookies for the family and friends. I always make Gingerbread, sugar, and Chocolate chip. Last year I did Rugalach, but this year I added buttery spritz. They were yummy.


Cherish77 profile image

Cherish77 7 years ago

Great hub by the way.


jim10 profile image

jim10 7 years ago from ma Author

Cherish77 if you already make gingerbread cookies you are already halfway there. Just cut them before cooking to make some shapes for walls and a roof while you are making them into gingerbread men. make some icing and let Faith pick out some candy and you will be having fun in no time. Cookies are fantastic for around the holidays. You can even put them on a nice plate and give them as a gift. thanks for your comments.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

fantastic house!


countrywomen profile image

countrywomen 7 years ago from Washington, USA

The house looks so cute. It is such a wonderful tradition to pass on to your kids. I love those pictures and thumbs up for a nice hub.


jim10 profile image

jim10 7 years ago from ma Author

Thanks, making the gingerbread house is a lot of fun and the kids look forward to it every Christmas.


sukkran profile image

sukkran 7 years ago from TRICHY, TAMIL NADU, INDIA.

really cool. 'ginger bread house' very attractive head line. nice work


JamHan profile image

JamHan 7 years ago from Dixieland

This is one of our family traditions, too!  I love it!!!  We usually just buy a boxed set and more candy, though.  I tried making the dough once and I didn't like the way it turned out, but I'm wanting to give it another go.  This year we did the train thing.  Next year, I want to make a nativity.

Man, it January, and I'm already excited for Christmas '09!

Are the recipes below your's?


jim10 profile image

jim10 7 years ago from ma Author

It is a great Christmas tradition. My family loves it every year. I got the recipe from a Christmas cookie book I have. I started using it about 4 or 5 years ago. Before that I would buy a Gingerbread House kit too. It really tastes so much better from scratch. When I get a chance I will find the name of it and see if I can post a link to it on Amazon.

You are not alone. I'm surprised at how many people are looking at this Gingerbread House Hub well after Christmas.


The Real Tomato profile image

The Real Tomato 7 years ago

I have to tell you, when I was growing up my mother made Holidays and Birthdays special. Some of my fondest memories from childhood are decorating christmas cookies with my three sisters. They were our artistic creations! It was difficult for me to finally eat them because I was so proud of them. Of course, I did finally eat them...not much beats a great fresh baked cookie and a cold glass of milk. (not even a home grown tomato ;)

It is activities like this that makes a house a home.


jim10 profile image

jim10 7 years ago from ma Author

It was always special to me when I got to help my grandmother cook and bake. So I try to get my boys involved as much as I can.


Lgali profile image

Lgali 7 years ago

this also a good hub


jim10 profile image

jim10 7 years ago from ma Author

I'm glad you like it. You should try making the gingerbread cookies sometime and if you have kids try making the gingerbread house.


apeksha profile image

apeksha 7 years ago from India.

Hey nice idea but I cant make that without seeing how to makt..it must be difficult..

can we eat that...like cake...:0

never mind...just wan no...

very nice hub...


jim10 profile image

jim10 7 years ago from ma Author

Hi Apeksha, sorry about the confusion. I never thought about putting the directions for putting it together. Basically the cookie parts are the building blocks and the icing is used like mortar for bricks. It becomes very strong when introduced to air. I find it easiest to have the kids help either holding the walls in place or dispensing the icing to connect the walls and roof. The tricky part is just getting it to stay for the first few pieces. I often use glasses or bowls or whatever is around to hold the first 2 pieces up I if the kids get tired of holding it . I also use toothpicks to hold it together for a little while until it dries. The candy is no problem that just sticks right on. The sooner you eat it the better it tastes. But, it can keep for quite a while. I usually make it a week or two before Christmas so it still tastes pretty decent when the kids tear it apart to eat it. Good luck.


nikki1 profile image

nikki1 7 years ago

cool hub..

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    John Wright's Gingerbread Molds

    Every year I think about getting one of these but, for some reason or another I never do. They seem really cool and would add more detail to the house. You will end up with a very similar house every year. Although it is the decorations that make it really different. This would make sizing up the house a lot easier and should give perfect edges.I have heard some people leave them out during the holidays as a Christmas decoration.

    Useful Tools for Making a Gingerbread House

    Wilton 415-850 Dessert Decorator Pro
    Wilton 415-850 Dessert Decorator Pro

    I have a similar one from William Sanoma that works great.

     

    Our Gingerbread House 2008

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