How to Make a Gingerbread House From Scratch

Gingerbread house
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  • 01 of 23

    Assemble the Equipment for Rolling and Cutting Gingerbread Dough

    Barbara Rolek

    Here's what you'll need to roll and cut gingerbread dough:

    • Structural gingerbread dough
    • Sheets of parchment paper cut to fit edgeless baking pans
    • Pattern pieces transferred to lightweight cardboard
    • Small amount of all-purpose flour for lightly dusting the pattern pieces
    • A rolling pin (silicone rolling pins work great)
    • A nonserrated pizza wheel or pastry cutter
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  • 02 of 23

    Roll the Gingerbread Dough on a Sheet of Parchment Paper

    Barbara Rolek

    Roll the gingerbread dough directly onto the parchment paper to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Try to cover the entire sheet of parchment paper with rolled-out dough so you'll be able to cut the maximum number of pieces.

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  • 03 of 23

    Cut out the Gingerbread House Pattern Pieces

    Barbara Rolek

    Lightly dust one side of the pattern pieces with flour and place, floured-side down, on the rolled-out gingerbread dough, leaving a 1-inch space between pieces. Try to fit as many as you can without crowding. For clean edges, cut with a nonserrated pizza wheel or pastry cutter.

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  • 04 of 23

    Remove the Gingerbread Dough Scraps

    Barbara Rolek

    Carefully remove the gingerbread dough scraps and cover them with plastic wrap until ready to reroll for the rest of the pieces.

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  • 05 of 23

    Pick up the Parchment Paper by Opposite Corners

    Barbara Rolek

    Never pick up individual rolled and cut pieces of gingerbread by hand to transfer them to a baking pan. This will distort them. Instead, pick up the parchment paper by opposite corners and place it on the baking pan.

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  • 06 of 23

    Place the Parchment Paper on the Baking Sheet

    Barbara Rolek

     It's a good idea to use rimless baking pans or those with just one edge which aids in placing in and removing from the oven. Take the parchment paper full of gingerbread house pieces which you are grasping by opposite corners and place it on the pan.

    Bake as the recipe instructs. Make sure the pieces are slightly brown around the edges and bottom. Repeat until you have all the pieces you need cut and baked.

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  • 07 of 23

    Let the Baked Gingerbread House Pieces Cool on the Baking Pan

    Barbara Rolek

    Remove the baking pans to a wire rack and don't disturb the gingerbread houses pieces. Let them cool completely before removing. It's a good idea to let baked gingerbread house pieces "cure" or temper for a day to make sure they are hard enough to stand assembly. If they become too soggy because of high humidity or cooking steam, recrisp them for a few minutes and let them cool before assembling.

    Now it's time to assemble and decorate the gingerbread house.

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  • 08 of 23

    Gather the Equipment You Will Need to Make a Gingerbread House

    gingerbread house supplied
    Barbara Rolek

    Here's what you'll need to make a gingerbread house:

    • A 12- to 14-inch cardboard cake circle or any size cardboard Styrofoam or craft foam to build your house on
    • A #10 plain round pastry tip and a #2 plain round pastry tip, and a 12-inch disposable or reusable pastry bag
    • Prepared royal icing
    • Baked gingerbread house pieces
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  • 09 of 23

    Fill the Pastry Bag to Make the Gingerbread House With Royal Icing

    Barbara Rolek

     Follow these step-by-step instructions for filling a pastry bag. Keep the pastry bag tip covered with a damp (but not wringing wet) paper towel at all times when not in use, otherwise the icing will harden like cement.

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  • 10 of 23

    Lay Down an L-Shaped Bead of Royal Icing

    Lay down an L-shaped bead of royal icing.
    Barbara Rolek

    Using the #10 tip on the pastry bag, lay down a thick L-shaped bead of royal icing on the platform you're building on.

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  • 11 of 23

    Put up Two Gingerbread House Walls

    Assemble Walls
    Barbara Rolek

     Keep your fingers clean and free of icing at all times otherwise your house will have unsightly smears all over it.

    Start by setting one gingerbread house gable side in the bead of royal icing. Place a long gingerbread house side in the other bead of royal icing. While holding the pieces with one hand, run a bead of royal icing up the seam, making sure all gaps are covered. Hold for a few seconds and release. If you have trouble with slippage, you can prop the walls up with whatever is handy.

    If...MORE the project you're working on isn't an intricate pattern, dependent on exactly matching pieces, don't worry if there are gaps between pieces. Just fill them with royal icing. The decorations will cover a multitude of sins.

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  • 12 of 23

    Put up the Third and Fourth Gingerbread House Walls

    Assemble walls
    Barbara Rolek

    This time lay down only one bead of royal icing on your building platform opposite the long gingerbread house side. Place the gingerbread house gable side in the royal icing and run a bead of royal icing up this second seam. Hold for a few seconds and release.

    Repeat with the fourth wall. It will be a tight squeeze running a bead of royal icing up this fourth seam, but you can do it!

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  • 13 of 23

    Attach the Roof to the Gingerbread House

    Add roof
    Barbara Rolek

    Run a bead of royal icing on all edges the roof will touch. First, place one roof side on the gingerbread house, making sure it lines up with the gable peak. Hold a few minutes. Then, while still holding the first roof side, add the second roof side and hold a few minutes. While still holding both roof sides, run a thick bead of royal icing down the seam where the roofs meet at the top. Hold a few minutes more and release. If your royal icing was made correctly, it should adhere with no problem.

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  • 14 of 23

    Let Harden

    Assembled Gingerbread houses
    Barbara Rolek

    It's a good idea to let the royal icing "mortar" on the assembled gingerbread houses harden for an hour or so before you begin decorating.

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  • 15 of 23

    Decorating the Gingerbread House

    Gather the equipment you'll need to decorate a gingerbread house
    Gather the equipment you'll need to decorate a gingerbread house. © 2008 Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Here's what you'll need to decorate an assembled gingerbread house:

    • Candy decorations. Unwrap all candy (except foil-wrapped) and place each type in a seaprate bowl. You don't want to be stuck unwrapping a candy cane while the royal icing begins to harden.
       
    • Use an oatmeal box or something tall to set the house on while decorating. You have to stand to assemble a gingerbread house, but when decorating a gingerbread house, sit down with the house at eye level.


    Decorating Ideas

    • Foil-wrapped Santas,...MORE snowmen, toy soldiers, medallions, bells
       
    • For shutters -- wafer cookies, Andes Mints, mini candy bars, sticks of gum
       
    • For roofs -- nonpareils, gum drops, vanilla wafers, mini cookies, Necco Wafers, mini frosted Shredded Wheat
       
    • For fences -- chocolate-covered pretzels, regular mini pretzels, mini cookies, mini Teddy Grahams, mini gingerbread men, candy canes, Star Brite Mints
       
    • For an ice skating pond -- blue mints microwaved on parchment paper until they melt
       
    • For trees and bushes -- green leaves
       
    • Snow -- confectioners' sugar or edible glitter (available at cake supply stores)
       
    • Pile of logs -- Tootsie Roll Midgees
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  • 16 of 23

    Fill a Pastry Bag with Royal Icing

    Fill a pastry bag with royal icing.
    Fill a pastry bag with royal icing. © 2008 Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.

    After your candy decorations are at the ready, prepare this royal icing recipe. Fill a pastry bag with the royal icing following these steps.

    Keep the pastry bag tip covered with a damp (but not wringing wet) paper towel at all times when not in use, otherwise the icing will harden like cement. If your royal icing has sat awhile and is too goopy, rewhip it to the right consistency.

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  • 17 of 23

    Start Decorating the Gingerbread House by Covering the Seams

    Cover the gingerbread house seams with candies to hide flaws.
    Cover the gingerbread house seams with candies. © 2008 Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
    These are all merely suggestions. Beauty is in the mind of the beholder and letting your creativity run wild is so satisfying. Take these in the spirit they're given.I like to start decorating a gingerbread house by covering the seams with candies. They hide a multitude of flaws.Then, I add spearmint leaves for shrubbery at all four corners. If your green leaves are thick, cut them in half with utility scissors.Next, I move on to the front door. I use a whole allspice or juniper berry from...MORE my pickling spices for a door knob. I add unwrapped Andes mints for steps, peppermint railings and half a cookie as a flourish above the door.I embellish the gable sides with windows and shutters and more decorations. Don't worry if the icing droops a little. The naive look is in! But do keep your hands clean at all times to avoid unsightly fingerprints.
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  • 18 of 23

    Decorate the Back of the Gingerbread House

    Decorate the back of the gingerbread house.
    Decorate the back of the gingerbread house. © 2008 Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
    There's a lot of territory to cover on the back of the gingerbread house, so let your imagination run wild. Anything goes. The kids I decorated this house with think more candy is better. So if it turns out looking a little garish, that's OK, too.
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  • 19 of 23

    Start Filling in the Gingerbread House Base

    Add royal icing "snow" to the gingerbread house base.
    Add royal icing "snow" to the gingerbread house base. © 2008 Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
    Begin to cover the gingerbread house base with royal icing snow and more candies, continuing around all four sides.
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  • 20 of 23

    Decorate the Gingerbread House Roof

    Decorate the gingerbread house roof.
    Decorate the gingerbread house roof. © 2008 Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
    Lay down a few beads of royal icing horizontally on the roof. Apply the roofing material of choice -- cookies, gum drops, mini Shredded Wheat. The sky's the limit.
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  • 21 of 23

    Continue in the Same Manner for the Gingerbread House Roof

    A Finished Gingerbread House Roof
    A Finished Gingerbread House Roof. © 2008 Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
    Continue to lay down two or three beads of icing and applying roofing material. Repeat on the opposite side.
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  • 22 of 23

    Gingerbread House Finishing Touches

    Put the finishing touches on the gingerbread house.
    Put the finishing touches on the gingerbread house. © 2008 Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.

    I like to add ribbon, using royal icing as glue, to the raw edge of the cardboard cake circle I use as a base for my gingerbread houses. As you can tell from picture #3, I changed the ribbon to red-and-white gingham because I thought it covered more of the edge and looked better.

    Then I pull down icicles from the eaves on all four sides of the gingerbread house.

    I lay down a thick bead of royal icing along the roof seam and place a candy cane at one end, and a candy chimney made from four pieces...MORE of chocolate at the other. Use cotton or quilt batting for smoke.

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  • 23 of 23

    A Christmas-Themed Gingerbread House

    A Christmas-Themed Gingerbread House
    A Christmas-Themed Gingerbread House. © 2008 Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.

    An unlacquered gingerbread house can last for months. Remember, if you use this structural gingerbread house dough recipe, the cake will be hard and is not meant for eating, but the candy will last from October to January.

    You can preserve your gingerbread house creation for years by spraying it with clear acrylic. Make sure you do this in a well-ventilated area and with cardboard behind it to catch the sprays. Let it dry completely and give it another coat. When it's completely dry, you can...MORE store it in a box that just fits. You don't want it to have too much room to wobble around.

    When you take it out next year, remember to keep it high out of reach of little hands, because, at this point, none of it is edible! Let the adults know, too!