Gingerbread House 101
Baker Bernard Shondell is making the ultimate gingerbread house with homemade icing.

Ingredients for Royal Icing

  • ¼ cup meringue powder (available at most craft stores and cake-decorating stores)
  • ½ cup water
  • About 6 cups confectioners’ sugar

Ingredients for Gingerbread

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup molasses
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. cloves
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¾ cup ice cold water

Ingredients and Materials for Cutting out the House Panels

  • 1-2 recipes of gingerbread dough*
  • Additional flour
  • Pastry cutter, pizza cutter or sharp knife
  • House panel templates
  • Manila folders or foam core (optional)
  • Parchment paper
  • Rolling pin
  • Baking sheets

Materials and Ingredients for Assembling and Decorating the House

  • Parchment paper
  • 1 recipe Royal Icing
  • Food coloring in Christmas colors (optional)
  • Decorating bags or parchment paper
  • Decorating tips
  • Various candies for decorating

Gingerbread House 101 - Home & Family

Download the Gingerbread House template PDFIngredients for Icing

1. In a spotlessly clean and grease-free mixing bowl (I recommend glass or metal), beat meringue powder and water until foamy and powder is dissolved.

2. Add confectioners’ sugar to mixture and blend until incorporated. Beat on high about 5 minutes until stiff peaks form. Make sure you beat the icing long enough—it should be glossy white and similar in consistency to caulk for best results.

3. Cover bowl immediately with a damp towel or plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out—keep it covered both before and during use.

Ingredients for Gingerbread

1. Cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add molasses and blend at low speed until incorporated, scraping the bowl once or twice during mixing.

2. Sift flour, baking soda, all spices and salt together, and add to the mixture. Once incorporated, mixture will be dry and crumbly.

3. Add water to mixture until incorporated.

4. Cover the dough and chill overnight or at least 3 hours.

Directions for Cutting out the House Panels

Note: To create a Christmas chalet, a gingerbread base, a few tall trees and some extra cookies, you’ll need to double this recipe. If you just want to create the chalet with a few extra cookies, one batch will be enough.

1. Remove half of the dough mixture from the refrigerator and let it sit for 10 minutes. Roll it out evenly onto a sheet of parchment paper to between ¼- and ⅛-inch thickness, dusting the dough occasionally with flour to avoid sticking.

2. Cut out the house panels from the templates provided. If you intend to reuse them, trace them onto a manila folder or foam core. Place the templates onto the dough, as many as will fit, with about ½ inch between the pieces. Use a pastry cutter, pizza cutter or sharp knife to trace around the panels and to cut out the front window. You should end up with 6 house pieces: 1 front, 1 back, 2 sides and 2 roof panels. Cut the dough removed from the front panel window in half, lengthwise, and separate to make the shutters.

Tip: Bake the shutter and door pieces on a separate baking sheet from the house panels— they don’t need to bake as long because they’re smaller. Start checking them for doneness after about 15 minutes in the oven.

3. If you can’t fit all the pieces on the rolled-out dough, use the same steps on the remaining dough in the refrigerator for the rest of the pieces. Use cookie cutters on some of the remaining dough to make cookies. Frosted cookies such as gingerbread men, Christmas trees and reindeer will make great additions to your Christmas chalet.

4. Preheat oven to 350°F with the oven rack in the middle. While oven is heating, place the cookie sheets with the dough in the freezer about 5 to 10 minutes to help them bake evenly.

5. Bake dough panels until the edges are just beginning to darken, about 20 to 25 minutes. Rotate the cookie sheets halfway through the baking time to brown more evenly. Remove the sheets from the oven and place on cooling racks.

6. While the pieces are still slightly warm, lay the paper templates over them and use a large, serrated knife to trim off any uneven parts or areas that have spread past the pattern. Let pieces cool completely before assembling the house.

Directions for Assembling and Decorating the House

1. Pick a solid base for your gingerbread house, such as a thick, sturdy piece of cardboard lined with florist foil, cake stand, or plate. If you want to create a gingerbread base, roll out your remaining dough and cut a circle using a round, 8-inch cake pan as a template. Bake at 350° for about 30 minutes, and let cool.

2. Color your icing (optional). Drop a decorating tip (size 4, round) into a decorating bag and add your icing. Pipe a thick line of icing along the bottom and sides of the front panel and along the bottom of one side panel (it doesn’t matter which side). Press the front and side together down on the base. Hold in place for a few minutes until the icing is partially set.

3. Pipe another thick line of icing on the side and bottom edges of the second side panel and place it against the edge of front piece and base. Hold in place to set. Repeat with the back piece, aligning all the corners and edges. Get an extra set of hands or cans from your pantry to help hold the panels in place, if necessary. Pipe additional icing along the seams inside the house to fill in any gaps and add stability. Let stand for at least 20 minutes before adding the roof pieces.

4. For the roof, pipe icing all along the top edges of front, back and two sides. Place both roof panels on the structure at the same time, making sure the top edges of the roof panels are touching each other. Hold in place for a few minutes to set. Pipe more icing along the top seam. Let the whole house stand for at least an hour before adding decorations.

5. Decorate the shutters, let dry, then carefully add a line of icing to the back of the shutters to attach them to the front of the house, on either side of the window.

6. Use icing to "glue" pieces of candy to the front, back and side house panels. Use various tips to make additional decorative designs (optional).

7. Add a path to the front door with a layer of icing and small jelly beans or other small candies for paving stones.

8. For the roof, use a spoon or spatula to add heaps of white icing. Smooth them into mounded shapes for a snow-drift look. Add small candy canes and peppermints before icing is set for additional decoration. Top roof seam with a row of colorful gumballs, adding additional icing to seam if necessary.

9. Complete your house by adding more icing to the perimeter for a snowy landscape. Embed frosted cookies—such as gingerbread men and Christmas trees—and larger candies around the perimeter.

Directions for Cutting and Assembling a Tree

1. Roll out your leftover dough and cut a freeform tree with a sharp knife. Make the base relatively straight for standing, but don’t worry about the tree being uniform or symmetrical.

2. Bake tree as you did the house panels, about 20 to 25 minutes.

3. Remove the sheets from the oven and place on cooling racks.

4. Let the tree cool completely before adding it to the house.

5. Decorate tree with royal icing and candies. Let dry.

6. Add a generous amount of icing to the base of the tree and prop it carefully against the house for stability.

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