- Holidays and Celebrations
Build Your Own Gingerbread House
Not just for architects, gingerbread houses are edible fun for the family.
The Bavarian Alps is home of some of the most charming little houses. With the dark brown trim against the white or cream-colored walls, these houses have the look of a fairy tale book come to life. I made my gingerbread house with a Bavarian theme, adding candy walkways and cookie trees. These are fun for the whole family. Have the kids help make the gingerbread dough and icing, pick out the candies for the windows and doors, and help by holding the pieces till they set. My girls loved making gingerbread houses every year to give as gifts to aunts and uncles and even grandma.
Get the hard candies and the platter to build on from the dollar store. I found that buying a dollar store cutting board serves a dual purpose. Once the gingerbread has been eaten, the cutting board can be used all year. Once batch of gingerbread makes three houses using my patterns. Two to gift and one to keep for yourself.
Photo of gingerbread house taken by me of my creation Christmas 2011. The "stones" around the house are candy rocks.
Cookies for teething
Gingerbread Teething biscuits
Ever made your own baby teething biscuits? Try these.
When my first baby was born, I was far from home and far from the comforting words of my mother. We sometimes couldn't find simple (American) staples. That first Christmas I stumbled on using the gingerbread recipe for teething biscuits quite by accident. My precious girl was about 6 months old by them and teething. One of my batches of gingerbread came out of the oven a little later than I would have liked and was hard as a rock. However my 6 month old loved them. She gummed and chewed making contented cooing noises. (And if you knew my colicky baby, you would have known this was unusual and a pleasant surprise). After that I kept a baggie of hard gingerbread around for just that purpose. All my babies loved them. They weren't too sweet (so as to cause cavities) and they weren't too bland, so they loved them.
You will need:
Photo of my baked pieces on aluminum foil, waiting to cool. Notice I cut a pine tree shape also.
- 1/2 Cup Shortening
- 1 Cup Brown Sugar
- 1 1/2 Cups Dark Molasses
- 2/3 Cup Cold Water
- 7 Cups Flour
- 2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon Allspice
- 1 Teaspoon Ginger
- 1 Teaspoon Cloves
- 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
- Mix shortening and sugar and molasses thoroughly with a mixer. Carefully stir in water. Blend all dry ingredients and stir into shortening mixture. Chill overnight or until good and cold.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. On a floured piece of aluminum foil, roll dough to 1/4 inch or less. Remember the dough will rise in the baking. Place the pattern pieces over the dough and cut out pieces carefully. Remove the excess and place the foil onto a baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes for softer cookies; 15 to 20 minutes for harder teething cookies or gingerbread house walls. There should be no imprint of your finger when touched lightly. Allow the house pieces to cool on the foil.
House Pattern - Main body of the house.
Make your own pattern or follow the directions and cut your own.
Extra side rooms for your house. - These are optional.
Make one side room or two, one on each side. It's up to you. Not necessary to have any of them. I just like the extra length it gives the house.
Building your House, you need a Pattern.
You will need to copy the pattern onto some paper and cut it out for a template. One old artist’s trick is to hold the pattern and paper together up against a window. The light from outside the window makes it easy to see through both papers to copy the pattern. You are making your window into a “light box”. What a great trick, right? This is probably the best method if you already have a printed pattern.
You can measure out the house the way you want it to look without using a preprinted pattern. I like to adjust the house measurements to fit onto the platter I buy to build the house on. Think of it as a box. It has two sides that match front and back, plus two sides that match left and right. Then there are two roof sides. So in all there should be 6 pieces for your house. Any extra side rooms are up to you. In the photo, you can see I added two side rooms, one on each side. Since the side rooms are connected to the main house, I only needed to bake three sides and one roof for each.
Drawing of the "light box" window is by me, Denise McGill. All Rights Reserved.
Beaten egg whites
You will need an icing that spreads on like icing but sets up like cement. This is my favorite recipe for cement. Tastes good too.
- 3 egg whites
- 3/4 Teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3 Cups sifted Confectioner's Sugar
- food coloring (optional) Preferably the gel kind not liquid.
- With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until they hold stiff peaks. Gradually beat in 1 Cup sugar. Beat for 5 to 6 minutes more before adding the second Cup sugar. Beat again 10 minutes and add the third Cup sugar. Keep this icing covered with plastic. It will start to harden right away.
- Add food coloring if desired, however the white is perfect for snow and icicles.
I love to decorate the roof
List of candies that make great gingerbread ornaments.
Candy Canes (all flavors, all colors)
M & Ms
Miniature M & Ms
Boston Baked Beans
Cake decoration candies
Graham Crackers (make great windows and doors)
Butterfingers (crushed for the walkway)
Anything you like
Photo of me putting on the last few chocolate covered sunflower seeds (with colorful candy coating) on the roof.
Happy Holiday Treat
Left over dough?
Try making a few ornaments for the tree... and baby.
You will have to try cutting out cookies from this dough and before baking add a hole to tie a ribbon through to hang on the Christmas tree. Everyone loves them. Including the baby.
Photo from Stock-xchng.com.