Gingerbread houses aren't only for kids. Whichever way you like to build your gingerbread house, this is still one fantastic treat (and beautiful décor) for all ages every single year. Run to your nearest grocery or home goods store and grab your best ingredients, because I'm going to teach you how to make the perfect, gingerbread house from scratch that'll really bring some holiday spirit in your home this season!
FYI, Gingerbread houses are edible. But it's made more for decoration then deliciousness (since this project is really “hands on”) Get it?
Gingerbread House Dough Ingredients
- 6 cups (828g) all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough (see recipe note)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 4 teaspoons ground ginger
- 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (170g) butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups (284g) packed light brown sugar
- 2 Large Eggs
- 1 cup dark molasses
- 1 tablespoon water
Royal Icing Ingredients
- 2 Large Egg Whites
- 2 2/3 cups powdered sugar, divided
Make the Gingerbread Dough
- Whisk the flour and spices:
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Set aside.
- Make the butter, sugar, egg, and molasses mixture:
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until fluffy and well blended. Beat in the eggs, molasses, and water until well combined.
Combine the wet and dry ingredients, and knead the dough:
Beat half of the flour mixture into the molasses mixture until well blended and smooth. Add in the remaining flour and continue to mix until well blended and a soft cohesive dough forms.
Turn the dough out onto a slightly floured work surface and knead by hand 5 or 6 times until the dough is smooth and combined. If dough is too soft, add a little more flour.
Divide the dough in half, pat into disks, and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least two hours, preferably overnight.
Let sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before rolling out.
Make the Gingerbread House Pieces
- Create a gingerbread house pattern by cutting out pieces of cardboard.
- Preheat oven to 350°F, with the oven rack in the middle. Have several flat cookie sheets ready
- Roll out the dough:
- Spread parchment paper on a large flat surface for rolling. Dust the paper lightly with flour.
- Working with one portion of the dough at a time, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to an even thickness of 1/4 inch. Add a little flour to the surface of the dough, and check for sticking as you roll it out.
- If it sticks to either your rolling pin or the rolling surface, dust with more flour. If the rolled out dough is very soft, you may want to freeze it for an hour before cutting out the patterns.
- Rub a little flour over the surface of the dough. Place the pattern pieces on the dough, as many pattern pieces as will fit on the dough. Use a small sharp knife to cut out the pattern pieces from the dough, wiping the knife surface clean frequently.
- Cut out the patterns through the dough and parchment paper, placing the dough pieces with the paper directly on the cookie sheets.
- Space the pieces on the cookie sheet an inch apart from each other. If dough pieces stretch during the transfer process, push them back into shape.
- Bake in a 350°F oven until the edges are just beginning to darken, 11-15 minutes for the large pieces, 6 to 8 minutes for the small pieces.
- Rotate the cookie sheets halfway through the baking for more even browning. Remove the sheets to racks to cool, about 15 minutes.
- While the pieces are still slightly warm, lay the pattern pieces over them and use a large straight chef's knife to trim off any parts of the pieces that have through cooking spread beyond the pattern.
- Remove pieces to cool directly on racks to cool completely.
Make the royal icing:
- Whisk the egg whites and 1 1/3 cups of the powdered sugar together until smooth.
- Add more powdered sugar, beat to stiff peaks:
- Add the remaining 1 1/3 cup of powdered sugar to the sugar egg mixture. Using an electric mixer, beat on high speed until the icing holds stiff peaks. If it doesn't form stiff peaks, add more powdered sugar.
- Place a dampened clean towel over the bowl of royal icing:
- Keep this towel over the icing to prevent it from drying out while you work with it.
- Pipe the icing with a pastry bag or cut freezer bag:
- When you are ready to mortar or decorate, fill a pastry bag with the icing. If you don't have a pastry bag, you can make your own with a re-sealable plastic freezer bag, just cut off the tip (a small cut) of one of the corners of the bag.
Build the House Using Royal Icing as Mortar
- Pick a solid base for your gingerbread house - either a flat cookie sheet, or a thick, sturdy piece of cardboard. If you want, line the base with aluminum foil or wax paper.
- Mortar the sides of the house with royal icing:
- Pipe a thick line of icing along a short end of one of the side pieces. Press the iced side piece against the edge of either the front or back pieces.
- Hold in place for a few minutes until the icing is partially set. Repeat with the other side piece. Prop up with cans if necessary.
- Repeat with the other short edges of the side pieces and the remaining front/back piece.
- Pipe icing along the seams, inside and outside of the house, to fill in any gaps and to add extra stability. Pipe icing along the edges of the house where it meets the base.
- Let set for at least an hour before attempting to add the roof pieces.
- If any of the gingerbread house pattern pieces break, as can happen easily when working with what are essentially cookies, most likely you can repair them.