How to Make a Gingerbread House: Step by Step Guide
A homemade gingerbread house is a wonderful way to decorate for the holidays. And while making, building and then decorating it from scratch may seem like a daunting task, creating a gingerbread house isn’t that difficult. Sure, you’ll need some time and a bit of a baking skill to do it, but building a gingerbread house is a simple festive project and also a beautiful way to connect to holiday traditions of the past.
Here is an easy step by step guide on making a gingerbread house, plus various tips and tricks on assembling and decorating.
How to Make a Gingerbread House
First, let’s start with the ingredients and equipment you’ll need.
- 1 1/4 cups butter
- 2 cups light or dark corn syrup
- 1 ½ cups brown sugar
- 9 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tsp ground ginger
- 3 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp salt
- Parchment paper
- Baking paper
- Plastic wrap or plastic bag
- Rolling pin
- Pizza cutter
- Light cardboard and a printed pattern for the gingerbread house
- A pastry bag
- Royal icing
- Candy decorations
Before you start mixing and baking, print out a pattern of a gingerbread house style you like. Then, cut it out, place it on a cardboard and cut again. You should have perfectly straight cardboard walls and roof sides (possibly other parts too) of the house now.
When you gather everything you need for making a gingerbread house, it’s time to start mixing and baking. This is a structural gingerbread, so it will be quite sturdy and easy to build with.
- Step 1: Mix corn syrup, butter and brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl and heat it. The ingredients should be melted, dissolved and smooth (you can stir it a little to help even it out).
- Step 2: In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, cinnamon, cloves and ginger.
- Step 3: Add the corn syrup mixture you microwaved and make a dough. It should be smooth and easy to come off from the sides of the bowl.
- Step 4: Wrap the dough in a plastic wrap or plastic bag and let it rest for about one hour at room temperature.
- Step 5: While the dough is resting, prepare your equipment, including the baking pans, rolling pin, parchment paper (which you should cut to fit your baking pan), pattern pieces and a pizza wheel. Also, heat the oven to 350F.
- Step 6: When the dough is ready, roll it out ¼ of an inch thick (more or less) onto a parchment paper.
- Step 7: Take your cardboard patterns, lightly flour them and place them on the dough. It’s important to place the patterns’ floured sides down and leave about 1 inch of space between each pattern. Fit as many as you can on the dough.
- Step 8: Cut the dough with a pizza wheel and remove and save the excess dough.
- Step 9: Transfer the parchment paper to the baking sheet and bake for about 13-15 minutes, or until the pieces are firm and lightly browned. Let them cool completely before removing from pans.
- Step 10: Re-roll the remaining dough scraps, shape and bake them as you did the first batch.
Tip: if you have time, it’s best to leave the house pieces to “cure” for a day before you start assembling the gingerbread house. Depending on where you keep them, they may become soggy – if this happens, crisp them for a few minutes in the oven, let them cool completely and then assemble.
Assembling the Gingerbread House
Now that the gingerbread pieces are ready, it’s time to start making the house.
- Step 1: Gather the tools you’ll need: a cardboard cake circle, pastry bag, royal icing and baked gingerbread pieces.
- Step 2: Fill the pastry bag with royal icing and lay down a thick stipe of icing on the platform you’re building on in the shape of a letter L.
- Step 3: Take two gingerbread house walls and place a strip of icing on the edges of both walls. Now place them on the L-shaped royal icing bead so that the icing on the walls touches. This way, the pieces will be sealed. Continue with the other two walls and make sure the structure is stable before moving on to the next step.
- Step 4: Place icing on all the sloping edges of the end walls (on the edges of the gables) that the roof will touch. Then, place one side of the roof so that it lines with the gable peak. Hold it for a few minutes so it sets. While holding the first roof side, place another side and hold it for a few minutes as well. To make sure the roof is extra stable, you can place a thick bead of icing down the seam where the roof sides meet at the top.
Related Post: Best Gingerbread House Kit
Decorating the Gingerbread House
Decorating the gingerbread house is a personal project. Some people like traditional gingerbread house looks while others prefer more unique decorations– whatever you choose, make it a fun, festive activity. If you have kids, you can let them decorate the house, or better yet, do it together!
Before you start decorating, it’s a good idea to leave the gingerbread house to set. We recommend leaving it for about an hour or two before you start decorating it.
For a classic look use:
- Lots of royal icing plus shredded coconut – this can be used as snow on the roof and ground, and for creating windows and doors. Plus, you can use it to cover up any smudges or mistakes you left on the board.
- Wafer cookies, sticks of gum and mini candy bars for shutters and other house decorations
- Chocolate or regular pretzels for the fence
- Gum drops to create a path and for other house decorations
- Tootsie Rolls for logs
- Mini Santa, snowmen and deer toys for a complete winter look.
- Gingerbread House Recipe – Food Network