- Food and Cooking
Make a Gingerbread House
Gingerbread Houses Are a Fun Christmas Craft
Making a gingerbread house is a great Christmas craft for children and adults alike. It's an especially fun holiday project that families can do together. Kids love building and creating gingerbread houses! The gingerbread tradition started in Germany, but it has spread around the world and now people from all over the globe craft these edible houses during the holiday season. Whether you use a kit or make it from scratch, gingerbread houses are fun for the holidays. Read on for recipes, tips and inspiration.
(Photo by Lisa Howard)
Gingerbread houses were first built in Germany. Inspired by the Brothers Grimm tale, "Hansel and Gretel," German bakers started creating houses made of lebkuchen, a flat German gingerbread. The houses were known as or "hexenhaeusle" (witch's house) or "lebkuchenhaeusle" (lebkuchen house).
Although the first written recipe for gingerbread only dates back to the 16th century, the history of gingerbread dates back to honey cake in ancient Rome. These honey cakes were often created in the shape of a heart, and this tradition carried over to Europe. Gingerbread bakers would create fancy hearts, as well as human and animal shapes shapes during the holidays. These became a popular treat at fairs throughout Europe. Later, German settlers brought the tradition of gingerbread houses to America.
If you love to bake and you love the holidays, then you're the perfect candidate for making a gingerbread house from scratch. Here's a recipe from AllRecipes.com.
3/4 cup butter
7/8 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup molasses
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground allspice
6 egg whites
4 (16 ounce) packages confectioners' sugar, sifted
1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, and molasses. Gradually beat in 2 eggs. Sift the flour, baking powder, and spices together; stir into creamed mixture. Wrap dough in parchment paper, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
2. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 6 portions, 2 slightly larger than the others. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the 4 smaller pieces to approximately the size of the side wall and the end wall with gable templates; cut out two of each. Roll out remaining dough, and cut into two rectangular roof pieces. Transfer gingerbread onto greased baking trays.
3. In a preheated 375 degree F oven, bake gingerbread for 10 minutes, or until crisp. When removing from the oven, leave the gingerbread on the baking trays for a few minutes to set, then transfer to wire racks. Leave out overnight to harden.
4. In a large bowl, lightly whisk 2 egg whites. Gradually beat in approximately 5 cups confectioners' sugar. The icing should be smooth and stand in firm peaks. Spread or pipe a 9 inch line of icing onto a cake board, and press in one of the side walls so that it sticks firmly and stands upright. If necessary, spread or pipe a little extra icing along either side to help support it. Take an end wall and ice both the side edges. Spread or pipe a line of icing on the board at a right angle to the first wall, and press the end wall into position. Repeat this process with the other two walls until they are all in position. Leave the walls to harden together for at least two hours before putting on the roof. Spread or pipe a thick layer of icing on top of all the walls, and fix the roof pieces in position; the roof should overlap the walls to make the eaves. Pipe or spread a little icing along the crest of the roof to hold the two pieces firmly together. Leave overnight to set firmly.
5. When ready to decorate, make the remaining icing. In a large bowl, lightly whisk 4 egg whites, and mix in remaining confectioners' sugar as before. Use this to make snow on the roof, and to stick various candies for decoration. Finish with a fine dusting of sifted confectioners' sugar.
You can also find a gingerbread pattern at AllRecipes.com to use with this recipe, or you can buy a gingerbread pan, such as the one shown below.
Listen to Christmas Music While You Build
Every day in December, Amazon offers free Christmas music downloads
Gingerbread House Cookie Cutter Bake Set - Make great-looking gingerbread houses every time!
This baking set makes it easy for just about anyone to create a great-looking (and great tasting!) gingerbread house.
Amazon review: This complete gingerbread house baking set puts IKEA to shame--it has everything needed to assemble an edible domicile, with easy-to-follow instructions written in plain English to boot! The cookie-cutter-style forms make it easy to get the right sized pieces for the construction project, so you don't have to worry about measuring rolled-out dough and cutting walls. The gingerbread and icing recipes are very easy to follow, with handy tips, such as rolling out the gingerbread directly on the cookie sheets, which eliminates the stretching and sticking that almost always occurs when moving cut cookies from counter to cookie sheet. With this easy-to-use kit, you could even become a contractor and farm this job out to your kids!
Get a Gingerbread Pan - A great alternative to a kit
If you'd like to try your hand at homemade gingerbread, but want a little help with the house shapes, this gingerbread pan can help you create perfect pieces.
This 14-inch cast iron pan makes it easy to create pieces for your gingerbread house, including gingerbread people!
Wilton Stand Up Gingerbread Cake Pan - Make easy gingerbread houses with this pan
From Amazon: Address your guests with a delightful welcome home. Halloween haunted houses, Easter hutches, Christmas cottages, school houses and even dog houses are just a few ideas in store for this pan. Cakes can stand up or lay flat. One-mix pan is 8 3/4 x 9 x 3 inch deep aluminum.
Gingerbread House Kits - A quick, fun way to make your creation!
Let's face it. Some of us aren't great bakers, aren't that crafty, and don't have time to create a gingerbread house from scratch. I would definitely fall into this category! But I still love sitting down with my son (and this year my daughter, too) to build a gingerbread house before the holidays. I always cheat and use a kit. You can usually find gingerbread house kits at grocery stores and crafts stores during the holiday season, or you can buy them online and avoid the crowds. Amazon, superstore for everything, has gingerbread houses, too. (Is there anything Amazon DOESN'T have? I've yet to search for something I wanted that wasn't available there.) So if you're missing the Martha Stewart baking gene, check out some of these easy kits at Amazon.
The Proper Attire for Building Gingerbread Houses
Dress for the occasion!
In our house, there are two proper types of headdress
to wear while building a gingerbread house.
You can either wear reindeer antlers...
or the more traditional Santa hat. And usually the kids like both!
Another way to dress for the occasion
Click any image to learn more about these shirts.
Amazing Gingerbread House Ideas - If you're ready to make something grand
I already confessed I don't have the skill to build a regular gingerbread house without a kit, much less attempting an extreme creation like the ones in this book. But if you're the crafty type who likes a challenge, this book should give you plenty of ideas for gingerbread houses to amaze your friends, family, coworkers and anyone else who happens to fall within your circle of bragging rights.
From Amazon: With a five-star inn's executive pastry chef as your personal trainer, you'll become a pastry artist, an architect, and the talk of the party when you bake one of these remarkable yet doable gingerbread houses: Victorian mansion, Coventry cottage, or lighthouse-keeper's wintry home. The basic recipes, patterns, and instructions are simple to follow, inspiring you to make them for your own table and welcomed hostess gifts.
White House pastry chef Thaddeus DuBois created this amazing gingerbread version of the real White House in 2005.
How to Make a Gingerbread House
India Galyean gives step by step instructions how to make a gingerbread house from scratch.
Graham Cracker House
If you don't want to bake your own gingerbread, but also don't want to buy a kit to create your house, graham crackers are a great alternative. This video from Epicurious shows how to do it.
Gingerbread House Holiday CardCHECK PRICE