The only thing better than eating sweets at Christmastime is decorating with them. Making a gingerbread house is a fun activity for all ages when the family is gathered together. You may want to prep the dough ahead of time so your guests can get straight to frosting and decorating their gingerbread houses.
Make Gingerbread Dough
1-1/2 cups butter, softened
1-1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
4-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1-1/2 cups molasses
6 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1. For gingerbread dough, in an extra-large bowl combine butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, salt, cloves, baking powder, and nutmeg. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until well mixed, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Add eggs, beating until combined. Add molasses, beating until well mixed. Divide dough into four portions. Chill dough about 2 hours or until easy to handle.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. On a large sheet of parchment paper roll out one portion of the dough to a rectangle that is 1/8-inch thick. Lightly flour top of the dough as necessary to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin.
3. Using a gingerbread house template, set wall pattern pieces on the dough rectangle; use a sharp knife to cut around each pattern piece. Remove excess dough. Remove pattern pieces; set aside.
4. Using a sharp knife, cut out windows, doors, or other shapes. Transfer dough cutouts on parchment paper to a large cookie sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Gingerbread pieces will spread some during baking. To trim gingerbread pieces back into shape, place pattern pieces on the hot gingerbread pieces; cut around the pattern pieces with a sharp knife. Remove excess gingerbread and pattern pieces.
Once the gingerbread house wall and roof pieces are completely cool and ready for building, you'll want to grab a few other essentials, such as candy and icing. Below are some of our favorite items to use when decorating a gingerbread house. Use as many or as few as you'd like.
Gingerbread House Decorating Accessories
- candy canes
- chocolate candy pieces
- hard candies, such as peppermint rounds
- rock sugar
- sugar pearls
- wafer cookies
Prep Royal Icing
We recommend using royal icing as the glue to keep the gingerbread house together. Royal icing is also great for decorating gingerbread houses -- and securing candy to the house -- because it has a smooth appearance and feels hard to the touch when dry.
How to make royal icing:
- In a large bowl stir together 1-3/4 cups powdered sugar, 4-1/2 teaspoons meringue powder, and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar. Add 1/4 cup warm water and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Beat on high speed 7 to 10 minutes or until mixture is very stiff.
Test Kitchen Tip: Meringue powder can be found in the cake decorating aisle of hobby and crafts stores.
Construct the Gingerbread House
Start building the gingerbread house by securing the walls together. TIP: Use glasses to hold the walls upright until the royal icing hardens. Add the roof pieces. Then decorate as desired with the sweet treats you gathered earlier. Have fun with it. After all, it is Christmastime!
Get more expert secrets on how to make a gingerbread house.