My kids love making gingerbread houses. (Probably because of all the candy involved). But they really are exciting and fun to make. The kits they sell at the store are nice and easy, but we think the homemade ones looks and tastes much better.
I created my own template for the house by drawing the walls and roof on a piece of cardboard with a ruler. This way, you can make your house look any way you want, and be any size you want! Just make sure your cardboard pieces fit together the way you want them to before using them to cut out the dough. For example, I wanted to have some overhang where the roof connects to the house, so I had to cut the front and back sides of the house a little narrower than I had originally drawn it. Don’t forget to cut out some windows and a door! And don’t worry, with the Royal Icing in this recipe, you can have no fear that your house will fall apart while building it. It dries fairly quickly, and holds like cement.
Gingerbread Dough Recipe
5 cups flour
1/2 cup baking powder
4 tsp ground ginger
4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves or allspice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1/2 cup dark molasses
1 Tbsp water
Whisk all the dry ingredients together and set aside. Beat butter and brown sugar together in the bowl of a mixer on medium speed intil fluffy. Add the eggs, molasses, and water and beat until well combined.
Beat half of the flour mixture into the mixer until blended and smooth. Add the remaining flour mixture and then knead the dough until firm and manageable, but not dry. Add more flour if the dough is wet.
Place the dough in a sealable container or zip-top bag in a cool place for up to 2 hours. If you make the dough ahead of time and refrigerate it, bring to room temperature before working the dough.
When ready to roll out the dough, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spray your cookie sheets with nonstick spray.
Roll out dough about 1/2 inch thick and cut into desired shapes using a sharp knife and the cardboard templates you made, working in batches and keeping the remaining dough in an airtight container so that it does not dry out. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces. The gingerbread will be light brown when it is done. Let cool completely before putting together.
Once you have your gingerbread pieces baked and cooled, you can trim them if necessary making sure your walls will be straight.
Royal icing with fresh egg whites:
1 large egg white
2/3 cup powdered sugar
Combine egg white and powdered sugar in a microwaveable bowl and microwave until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F. The best way to do this is to microwave the mixture on high power, stopping every 20 seconds to take the temperature; it will take about 2 minutes and 40 seconds, but cook time will vary based on microwaves. Make sure to use clean utensils each time you check the icing. The other option is to microwave the mixture for 45 seconds on high, but the consistency will not be as good.
Beat on high speed until the icing cools and holds a stiff peak, about 2 minutes. If the icing needs to be thicker, add up to 2/3 cup more sugar; you will probably need to add about 1/3 cup more sugar. Food coloring can be added, if desired. Work with the icing in small amounts, keeping the remaining icing in an airtight container, as it will dry quickly.
Royal icing with powdered egg whites:
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon powdered egg whites
2 tablespoons water
Beat all ingredients together in the bowl of a mixer until stiff peaks form. Food coloring can be added, if desired. Work with the icing in small amounts, keeping the remaining icing in an airtight container, as it will dry quickly. The icing can be re-beaten if necessary.
Building the House
First prepare a platform for your house by covering a tray or board with foil.
Place your Royal icing into a pastry bag or a plastic zip-top bag with the corner cut off.
Start building your house by squirting some icing on the bottom edge of one of your walls and placing it on the platform in the desired spot. Hold until icing is set.
Next, take the adjacent wall piece and apply icing to the bottom and the side that will be touching the standing wall. Put into position, and hold until set.
Add the remaining walls, using the icing to glue them together. Let dry for about 5 minutes before icing the tops of the walls and putting the roof into place.
Now you can use the remaining icing to fill in any gaps between the walls, roof and create icicles, snow, and for attaching candies to your house. Add gumdrop trees, bushes and a pathway to your house. Be creative, and have fun!
Here’s the gingerbread house we made this year: