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Baking a Finnish Gingerbread House - Our Fun Family Tradition

Updated on December 9, 2013

A Gingerbread House from the Best Gingerbread Recipe

One of the Christmas family traditions we had when I was growing up was making a Gingerbread house. My mom always made a Gingerbread house, so I didn't think much about it, until I read a couple of articles about Finnish Christmas traditions.

One article from the World Gourmet saying that "making a gingerbread house is also part of Christmas preparations" and one from Finnguide writing about the Finnish Christmas tradition of baking and constructing a Christmas Gingerbread House decoration.

I've been making gingerbread with my girls and my mother has been having them help in making her Gingerbread house. Since the girls are finally getting old enough to help responsibly, it is time to start our own tradition and try making our own Finnish Gingerbread House. I'd love to try making a Moomin House styled Gingerbread House. It would be a good place to put their Moomin toys on display.

This lens includes several two designs typical of Finland to use in making a Finnish Gingerbread House—the red hut from the Finnish country side and the Piparkakut Muumitalo, otherwise known as the Moomin House Gingerbread House (shown to the left).

Also include are directions for mixing up a double recipe of Piparkakut, the Best Gingerbread Recipe Ever and royal icing to 'glue' your house together.

Moomin Gingerbread House or Piparkakut Muumitalo by Elaine Ashton. Used under a Creative Commons License.

A Gingerbread Summer House

Image by Mwri
Image by Mwri

A gingerbread house of one of the many small red huts seen in Finnish countryside by Mwri.

Used under a Creative Commons License.

Question - Making Gingerbread Houses

Have you ever made a Gingerbread house?

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A Finnish Summer House

Image by Alex Brown
Image by Alex Brown

Finnish Summer House by alexbrn. Used under a Creative Commons License.

Make a Finnish Summer House in Gingerbread

Fox Run Gingerbread Cookie Cutters

Fox Run Gingerbread House Cookie Cutter Bake Set
Fox Run Gingerbread House Cookie Cutter Bake Set

This cookie cutter set helps making a Gingerbread House, like a Finnish Summer House much easier.

 

Finnish Summer House Style Gingerbread House

Available on Amazon
Available on Amazon

Gingerbread House Made from Fox Run Gingerbread House Cookie Cutter Bake Set

Finnish Gingerbread (Piparkakku) Recipe

Image by Lindsay Attaway
Image by Lindsay Attaway

My Mom's Finnish Gingerbread (Piparkakut) Recipe

This is my Mom's Finnish Gingerbread Recipe for Piparkakut doubled, which gives you enough cookie dough to make a decent sized gingerbread house.

  • Sift Together:
  • 7 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons ginger
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
  • Cream well:
  • 1 cup margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • Blend in:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups molasses
  • 4 teaspoons grated orange rind
  • Stir in:
  • The dry ingredients with the other ingredients, gradually until the recipe is well-blended.
  • Chill:
  • Refrigerate overnight (Dough can keep up to 1 week)
  • Roll out:
  • 1/8 inch thickness and cut into desired shapes. If using a gingerbread house pattern, put pattern pieces on the dough and cut around the pieces.
  • Bake: 375 ° for 8 to 10 minutes. Be careful not to burn.
  • Yield:1 gingerbread house (with some cookies left over)

Mixing Gingerbread Cookie dough by Lindsay Attaway. Used under a Creative Commons License

Finnish Spices

Part of the reason that Finnish Gingerbread is so delicious is the combination of spices used compared to other more traditional spices.

Adding cardamom, cloves, allspice and dark molasses to the ginger in gingerbread helps create the amazing flavor of these Finnish version of gingerbread.

Gingerbread House (Piparkakkutalo) Recipes and Patterns

Some of the recipes are in Finnish. You can get the pages translated using Google Translator.

Making a Finnish Gingerbread House

How to Construct a Gingerbread House

Image by kahvikisu
Image by kahvikisu

Making a Piparkakkutalo (gingerbread house) by karviainen. Used under a Creative Commons License.

Time required: Several hours

Difficulty: medium

Materials:

  • Baked Gingerbread cookies
  • Granulated sugar
  • Royal Icing
  • Decorations

Tools:

  • Gingerbread house templates or house cookie cutters
  • Pan (for melting sugar)
  • Icing Piping Kits

Instructions:

1. Choose a design for the house. (Simple easy pieces make it easier to put the gingerbread house together.

2. Translate the design to paper.

3. Choose your cookie dough recipe (I recommend the Piparkakut - The Best Gingerbread Recipe Ever)

4. Prepare cookie dough according to instructions. Be sure to let it refrigerate.

5. Roll out the dough to 1/8 - 1/4 thick.

6. Cut out gingerbread house cookie pieces carefully and bake. Let the pieces cool. Be sure to keep them stored flat.

7. Carefully assemble Gingerbread house using melted white sugar (adults only) or icing glue (recipe next).

8. Decorate the Gingerbread house using favorite decorations e.g. M&M's, sprinkles, almonds, mini marshmallows, icing, gumdrops and other little cookies. You might even want to include figures and cookies trees to decorate your house.

Image by Jayneandd
Image by Jayneandd

Royal Icing Recipes

Gluing the pieces of the gingerbread house is done (carefully) using melted white sugar to stick the main pieces of the house together.

Other smaller pieces and the decorations come from using Royal Icing. I've included two different Royal Icing recipes to choose from when decorating your gingerbread house.

Royal Icing Recipe - Version 1 with meringue

This may need to be doubled to assemble a large gingerbread house and decorated cookies.

  • Ingredients:
  • * 3 tablespoons powdered egg whites or meringue powder
  • * 1 pound (4 cups) sifted confectioners' sugar
  • * 1/3 cup water (6 tablespoons)
  • Directions:
  • 1. Combine powered egg white or meringue powder with sugar. Add water a bit at a time.
  • 2. Beat all ingredients with a mixer until stiff peaks form. This may take 7 to 10 minutes.
  • 3. Keep icing covered until ready to use.
  • Makes 2 1/2 cups of icing.

Royal Icing Recipe - Version 2

This may need to be doubled to assembly a large gingerbread house and decorated cookies.

  • Ingredients:
  • * 1/3 cup water
  • * 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (keep extra to thicken icing)
  • * Juice of 1 lemon
  • Directions:
  • 1. Combine water, sugar and lemon juice.
  • 2. Beat the ingredients together.
  • 3. If icing ends up too thick, add more water; if icing is too thin, add more sugar.
  • The icing will keep in an airtight refrigerated container for up to 3 days.
  • Makes 2 1/2 cups of icing.
Piping Royal Icing by Jayneandd. Used under a Creative Commons License.

Icing Kits for Decorating

Using icing bags makes piping icing much easier.

Gingerbread House at Night

Image by Mwri
Image by Mwri

This Gingerbread House After Dark from Mwri is very inviting.

Used under a Creative Commons License.

Piparakku on Wikipedia

Translated through Google Translator and adjusted a bit:

  • Gingerbread cookie or a sweet pastry that is eaten especially on Christmas. They are often baked into thin, crispy biscuits and cut with specific molds to resemble for example, stars, hearts, people, animals and so on. Piparkakkutalo is a Gingerbread House.
  • Piparkakku dough is often made into larger disks, which can be assembled gingerbread houses. candy coating on the outside and decorated cakes are the usual Christmas decorations.
  • Gingerbread is named after the allspice, which was first used spices. Piparakku predecessors, honey cakes, were made in the time of pharaohs in Egypt. Honey gingerbread cake changed when the honey was replaced by the sugar and spices into the dough began to increase. Gingerbread is also considered to be luck.

In Finland a Gingerbread House (called Piparkakkutalo in Finnish) decorated with icing sugar and candies is an important part of the Christmas decorating tradition.

— Finnguide

Gingerbread Houses a Tradition in Finland

Image by andreuchis
Image by andreuchis

Finnguide offers this information about the Gingerbread houses in Finland:

  • In Finland a Gingerbread House (called Piparkakkutalo in Finnish) decorated with icing sugar and candies is an important part of the Christmas decorating tradition.
  • Easy to assemble Gingerbread House "Kits" are available for sale in most grocery shops in Finland, but the planning, cutting, baking and decorating of one´s own Gingerbread House, particularly together with children, does make the Christmas Gingerbread House a little more special and satisfying to look at.
They encourage people to take part in the Finnish Christmas tradition of baking and constructing your own Christmas Gingerbread House decoration.

Source: Christmas Gingerbread Houses (Piparkakkutalo)

Piparkakku house by andreuchis. Used under a Creative Commons License

Add a Gingerbread Christmas Cookie Tree

Image Pictures by Ann
Image Pictures by Ann

Make a Gingerbread Christmas Tree for the House

Another fun option for decorating a Finnish Gingerbread House is seen in the design of the red hut or cabin and in the image to the right.

An edible gingerbread Christmas tree can be fashioned out of a series of stacked gingerbread cookie stars.

Making the Gingerbread Christmas trees from stars is very simple, but you end up with a stunning effect.

You just need a series of graduated star cookie cutter patterns or a collection of star shaped cookie cutters to cut out the cookies.

When ready to assemble, glue each layer with icing.

Decorate with a dusting of powdered sugar or other decorations as desired.

Gingerbread Christmas tree from picturesbyann. Used under a Creative Commons License

Star Cookie Cutter Sets

Getting a set of star cookie cutters will make it easier to create gingerbread Christmas trees out of stacks of stars.

Gingerbread Star Tree Recipes

More recipes and patterns to create your own Christmas tree out of gingerbread stars.

Make a Moomin Gingerbread House

Moomin Gingerbread House

Image by Axis of Aevil
Image by Axis of Aevil

Eating Moomins from Axis of Aevil.. Archive December 2005. Used under a Creative Commons License 1.0.

Image by Elaine Ashton
Image by Elaine Ashton

What is a Moomin?

Having a Mother born and raised in Finland, I was also raised with the Moomin characters, so when I saw the designs for a Moomin styled Gingerbread house I was very excited.

Moomins are the lovable little creatures born from the imagination of author and illustrator Tove Jansson. They are peaceful critters that look a bit like white upright hippopotamuses. Many of the books follow the adventures of Moomintroll (the son) and his friends. Moominmamma and Moominpappa also play roles in the different stories.

The Moomins are pictured here (it looks like Moomintroll in the striped shorts and his friend Snork Maiden hiding) as a close up of the Moomin Gingerbread House.

The cute little Moomin toys have been staged having a snowball fight using chocolate mint balls with a candy shell as the snowballs.

Moomin snowball fight by Elaine Ashton. Used under a Creative Commons License.

Patterns to Make a Moomin Gingerbread House

You may have to look up some of these patterns in the Wayback Machine.

Order a Moomin House Mold Set with 2 Characters

I was able to order a Moomin House Mold though this website. They are able to do transactions through PayPal.

If you run the page through Google translator you can figure out what the website is saying which helps for those of us who don't speak Finnish.

The Book About Moomin, Mymble and Little My

The Book About Moomin, Mymble and Little My
The Book About Moomin, Mymble and Little My

The Book About Moomin, Mymble and Little My has to be one of my all time favorite children's books.

It was first published in 1952 and includes die cuts throughout the book giving a 'peak' at what is to come.

 

History of Finnish Gingerbread Houses

What do you think about the Finnish Gingerbread Houses?

Comments on the Finnish Gingerbread Houses

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    • HealthfulMD profile image
      Author

      Kirsti A. Dyer 4 years ago from Northern California

      @microbio: Thank you.

    • microbio profile image

      microbio 4 years ago

      Wonderful lens:-)

    • OraraValleyCakes profile image

      OraraValleyCakes 5 years ago

      I had no idea this tradition was so wide spread across the globe!

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      OK, now I'm hungry. :)

      This is a fantastic lens, good to look at and loaded with useful information. Inspiring!

    • profile image

      blanckj 6 years ago

      Thanks for sharing. They look great.

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 6 years ago

      What a fantastic lens. I've never made one; but I am bookmarking this lens and will try to make one next year. Thanks for all the information.

    • HealthfulMD profile image
      Author

      Kirsti A. Dyer 6 years ago from Northern California

      @ToTheBrimm LM: The one my Mom makes gets eaten every year. Guess you'd need to make them pretty close to Christmas so they don't get too stale by Christmas.

    • ToTheBrimm LM profile image

      ToTheBrimm LM 6 years ago

      I love looking at gingerbread houses. Strange thing is, I don't think I've ever seen one be eaten.

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 6 years ago

      I love looking at gingerbread houses. Harrah's in Tahoe used to have a big gingerbread village display at Christmas time. Your Finnish one is beautiful.

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 6 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      what a wonderful idea - featured on my unique gift ideas (it's almost finished :0) )

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 6 years ago from Iowa

      These are totally amazing. I'll be adding all 3 as featured on my Handmade Christmas Lensography when I get a moment. For now though the link is approved. :)

    • myneverboredhands profile image

      myneverboredhands 6 years ago

      Great lens, informative and very-very interesting. I never made gingerbread house in my life and never ate one either... but after reading this lens I have unstoppable desire to create one with my kids for the coming Christmas.

    • profile image

      Brandi_LeBlanc 6 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your recipes. I added your lense to my lensroll. Traditional gingerbread house recipes can be found on MyChristmasHoliday.com.

    • Charlino99 profile image

      Tonie Cook 6 years ago from USA

      Excellent.

    • Sensitive Fern profile image

      Sensitive Fern 6 years ago

      I didn't know there was a special Finnish tradition of gingerbread houses. I love to learn things like this. I've featured this on my gingerbread lens.

    • sheilamarie78 profile image

      sheilamarie78 6 years ago

      I'm going to try your recipe this year. The town I used to live in had a gingerbread house competition. Some amazing entries. The pressure is off this year and so I can make one without measuring mine against the experts.

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 6 years ago from California

      Wow...I like these, very different from the Gingerbread Houses I am used to. Thank you for sharing this Finnish Tradition.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 6 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Wonderful instructions on making a gingerbread house.

    • desilegend profile image

      desilegend 6 years ago

      Looks like a lot of work! I'd like to try to make Gingerbread Christmas Tree first...

    • Missmerfaery444 profile image

      Missmerfaery444 6 years ago

      Oh my goodness! I have been wanting to try to make a gingerbread house for a while now - not only will this be a great help - but Moomins!! I adored the Moomins as a child (and still do)... now I want to make a Moomin house! Wonderful lens.

    • puzzlerpaige profile image

      puzzlerpaige 6 years ago

      These are wonderful! We are today, putting up our tree and getting into the spirit of Christmas and your Gingerbread House lens fits in perfectly with our wonderful day!

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 6 years ago from Scotland

      This was so devine, thankyou for sharing your mums recipe too. You not only brought back memories of watching Moomin, I can smell the gingerbread in the oven from here ~Angel Blessed~