I know, I know. I always post about this around this time of year, but I just can't help myself. It is time to start thinking about gingerbread houses!  Whether you are a beginner or experienced at gingerbreading I have a couple of tips for you.

If you are just a beginner and want to try one out for the first time this year, may I suggest you try one of the kits from Wilton. You can find them in most stores this time of year. They come with everything you need from decorating bags to some candies and pre-baked house pieces. They are easy and fun for you and the kids to put together.
If you are more experienced and would like to try making a creation of your own, I love these books to help me get ideas, Gingerbread: Things to Make and Bake and Gingerbread For All Seasons. They have some templates for different houses and tutorials. They also have recipes in them for a good strong gingerbread. You always want a good strong gingerbread when building houses. I have a favorite dough that I like to use for my houses and because my parents taught me to share I will share it with you! I really like this one because it is strong and it has lots of spices in it and it smells so festive :)

Gingerbread Dough for Houses:

5 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
1 1/4 c. molasses
2 eggs, beaten

In saucepan, melt shortening on stove over low heat. While shortening is melting, in another bowl stir together flour, salt and spices. When shortening is partially melted, remove from heat and stir to melt completely. Add sugar, molasses  and beaten eggs. Mix well and quickly so eggs won't cook. Add molasses mixture to to flour mixture and mix well. Dough will be soft. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm enough to handle.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I like to roll dough onto aluminum foil. To prevent foil from slipping, wipe counter with wet sponge then smooth foil over damp counter. This keeps foil from slipping when rolling out dough.  Work with small amounts of dough, about baseball size. Sprinkle dough with flour and roll out dough. Roll dough about 1/8 inch thick, place house pattern pieces on cut dough. Leave your pieces on the foil and simple lift the foil and place it on a cookie sheet and bake. When piece is done baking and cooling you can easily remove the foil. 

You also need a good Royal Icing to put your house together. I Like Wilton's Royal Icing recipe because it is so simple.

Royal Icing:

3 T. meringue powder
4 c. powdered sugar
6 T. warm water

Make sure all utensils and mixing bowls are grease free. Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer).
If you have any questions on making gingerbread houses, let me know.


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