A gingerbread house is a lovely way to decorate for the holiday season. You can bake the house from scratch, assemble, and decorate it to make it truly yours. This project is broken down into the steps you need to take.
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Equipment and Supplies
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 for your gingerbread house transferred to lightweight cardboard
- A small amount of all-purpose flour for lightly dusting the pattern pieces
- A rolling pin (silicone rolling pins work great)
- A non-serrated pizza wheel or pastry cutter
Here's what you'll need to assemble a gingerbread house:
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 separate 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.
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Cut the Gingerbread House Pattern Pieces
Lightly dust one side of the cardboard pattern pieces with flour and place them 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 non-serrated pizza wheel or pastry cutter.
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Remove the Gingerbread Dough Scraps
Carefully remove the gingerbread dough scraps and cover them with plastic wrap until ready to reroll for the rest of the pieces.Continue to 5 of 13 below.
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Place on the Baking Sheet
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.
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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Cool on the Baking Pan
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, re-crisp them for a few minutes in the oven and let them cool before assembling.
Now, it's time to assemble and decorate the gingerbread house.
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Gather the Equipment You Will Need to Make a Gingerbread House
Retrieve the cardboard cake circle, pastry bag with #10 and #2 tips, the prepared royal icing, and the baked gingerbread house pieces.
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Fill the Pastry Bag With Royal Icing
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.Continue to 9 of 13 below.
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Put up Two Gingerbread House Walls
Keep your fingers clean and free of icing at all times otherwise your house will have unsightly smears all over it. The edges of both sides of the pieces of gingerbread should have a strip of icing. That way the icing touches the icing instead of the bare gingerbread. This creates a stronger seal.
- Place a strip of icing on the edge of the gable that you will be setting down first.
- Set the 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 the project you're working on isn't an intricate pattern that's 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.
- Wait until these two sides are completely dry before moving onto the next walls!
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Put up the Third and Fourth Gingerbread House Walls
- 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!
- Wait until these two sides are dry before moving onto the roof.
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Attach the Roof to the Gingerbread House
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. It's not a bad idea to let the royal icing "mortar" on the assembled gingerbread houses harden for an hour or so before you begin decorating.Continue to 13 of 13 below.
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Decorating the Gingerbread House
Cover the base of the gingerbread house with the leftover royal icing and then coat with shredded coconut to cover up any of the mess you left on the board. It also looks like beautiful snow. You can also pipe icicles onto the edges of the roof using a piping bag.
Now you can have fun decorating the house further. Decorating ideas include:
- Foil-wrapped Santas, snowmen, toy soldiers, medallions, bells
- Shutters: wafer cookies, Andes Mints, mini candy bars, sticks of gum
- Roof decorations: nonpareils, gum drops, vanilla wafers, mini cookies, Necco Wafers, mini frosted Shredded Wheat
- Fences: chocolate-covered pretzels, regular mini pretzels, mini cookies, mini Teddy Grahams, mini gingerbread men, candy canes, Star Brite Mints
- Ice skating pond: blue mints microwaved on parchment paper until they melt
- Trees and bushes: green leaves
- Snow: powdered sugar or edible glitter (available at cake supply stores)
- Pile of logs: Tootsie Roll Midgees