German Swiss Chalet Gingerbread House Dough Recipe - Lebkuchenhaus

Little girl making a gingerbread house
Little girl making a gingerbread house. Emely/Cultura/Getty Images
  • 60 mins
  • Prep: 25 mins,
  • Cook: 35 mins
  • Yield: Dough for One House (serves 4)
Ratings (6)

This gingerbread dough recipe for a German Swiss Chalet Gingerbread House (Lebkuchenhaus) is considered "structural" gingerbread because it dries into a very hard cookie, suitable for construction. The walls and roof are cut out while the cookie is still warm using a template that you make.

You will need to make two batches of this dough to create the house shown in these step-by-step gingerbread-house instructions, but make each batch of dough separately for best results. In other words, don't double the recipe — make two single-batch doughs.

What You'll Need

  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup butter (or margarine)
  • 1 tablespoon orange peel (dried, ground or fresh lemon peel)
  • 1 lemon (or lime, juiced plus water to equal 1/4 cup)
  • 5 1/2 cups flour (all-purpose)
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks (divided; reserve the whites for the frosting glue)

How to Make It

  1. Grease a 12x17-inch jellyroll pan or cookie sheet with a 1/2-inch lip.
  2. Mix the sugar, honey and butter in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for several minutes. The sugar will not dissolve, but the mixture should be light yellow in color and well-mixed. Remove from heat, add the orange peel or lemon peel and lemon juice-water mixture, and stir until fully incorporated. Let cool slightly.
  3. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour with the baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and allspice. Remove 2 cups to a separate large mixing bowl, add the slightly cooled sugar mixture from the saucepan and beat together until smooth.
  1. Add 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk and beat until smooth. Add the rest of the flour, 1 cup at a time.
  2. Adjust the consistency of the dough. You should be able to handle the dough with your hands easily. Add water or flour, if necessary, 1 tablespoon at a time to reach the consistency of refrigerator cookie dough.
  3. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured board (almost no flour) to almost the size of your jelly roll pan. Transfer it to the pan and press or roll the dough into the corners, keeping the thickness even. If you are following the step-by-step guide for the Swiss Chalet house, roll one batch of dough into long ropes and lay side by side. Use the extra dough to make fascia and fence posts. Lay them on another cookie sheet.
  4. Mix the second egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of water and brush over dough. Place decorative nuts on dough, if you are using.
  5. Bake at 350°F for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove and cut into shapes using a template before it cools completely. Don't forget to cut doors and windows as desired. You have about 1/2 hour to do this. If the sheet of dough cools, you will need to use a jigsaw for further cuts or bake another batch!

Take Note:

  • I grind dried orange peel in a clean, old coffee grinder and add it to the sugar mixture. By the time it rehydrates and bakes, it feels and tastes a lot like candied orange peel.
  • You may use a product called Lebkuchengewürz or gingerbread spice from Germany which consists of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, coriander, mace, nutmeg, anise seed, pimiento and lemon peel. Use 1 tablespoon and omit the other spices in this recipe.

    Here is more information on building a gingerbread house with templates and a recipe for royal icing, the mortar that holds the house together.