Article by:Allrecipes Staff|Picture by:Allrecipes
Building a gingerbread house during the festive season is a Christmas tradition that the entire family will enjoy. Making a gingerbread house is easy with our step-by-step guide.
What do you need?
To build a gingerbread house, ensure you have the following:
- Pattern for the four house panels and the two roof panels. We have a template you can download here.
- Rolling pin
- Baking trays
- Aluminium foil
- Tins to use as weights
- A heavy base to support the house (double up heavy cardboard or use a cutting board)
- Royal icing (double the recipe)
- Pastry bags and decorating tips
- Time - Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will your house! Plan to make the house in steps over the course of a weekend
You can double any 'gingerbread people' recipe to make a gingerbread house, or you may wish to try one of our gingerbread house recipes. Either way, start by rolling out the chilled dough.
Chilled dough is much easier to work with when rolling and cutting out the parts of your house. It also prevents the dough from spreading once in the oven.
Line your baking tray with baking parchment, and lay the rolled dough over the parchment. Place your template on top of dough; using the tip of a sharp paring knife, trace the shape. Remove the excess pieces of dough, and chill the tray in fridge for 15 minutes.
Remove dough from the fridge. Sprinkle crushed red sweets in the spaces cut out for the windowpanes. The sweets will melt and create a stained glass effect for windows (this is optional). Bake 20-30 minutes until the centre is firm; don't let edges get too dark. Cool completely on the tray before removing from parchment.
Once all parts of your house are baked and cooled (you can do this the day before), it is time to build your house. Fill a piping bag with royal icing. Pipe a thick line of icing on the bottom (base) edge of the first side wall. Stand side wall on your sturdy foundation, icing side down, 5cm in from the edge of the "garden". Hold for about 5 minutes to set; use tins from your cupboard to stabilise - one on each side of the wall - and hold it in place.
What should I use for a base?
A sturdy foundation is essential if you want to enjoy your house throughout the festive season. Use a heavy wooden cutting board or doubled-up pieces of sturdy cardboard. Cover with aluminium foil to make decorating easy.
Pipe a thick line of icing onto front edge of side wall. Pipe icing along base of front panel and press edges of walls together at a 90-degree angle. Hold walls together for about 5 minutes and then hold up with tins. Pipe icing along the front of the vertical seam where the two walls meet, and along the bases to stabilise.
Add second side wall to the front panel in the same fashion: stabilise with icing, hold to set and prop up with tins. Pipe icing on vertical seam and along the base.
Pipe more icing and reposition tins to stabilise walls, if necessary.
Add back panel: pipe icing along edges of side walls and along the bottom of the back panel. Press the back panel into place and hold for 5 minutes. Carefully reach inside the house from above and pipe icing along all bases and seams to reinforce the walls. Use tins for support, if needed. Let stand for 30-60 minutes until dry and hard before adding the roof.
Remove tins from inside the house before assembling the roof. Pipe a line of icing along the edges of the roof panel, as well as the base of the house where the roof will sit.
Pipe a line of icing around the inside edge of the roof panel, and press it into place. The top edge of the roof should align with the edges of the front and back panels.
The edge of the roof should create an eave, or an overhang of about 1.5cm or so. Hold the roof panel in place for 5 minutes. Pipe additional lines along roof joints, and carefully reach inside the house to pipe inner seams as well. Repeat with second half of the roof. If necessary, prop up the roof with tins to hold the panels in place. Let the house sit a minimum of 6 hours or overnight so that the icing can harden.
When the house is assembled and dry, you can begin decorating! Start with the roof. Spread icing over the entire rooftop. Cover with biscuits fashioned into roof tiles, shredded wheat for a thatch roof, or pipe on extra icing for a snow-covered effect.
Continue to use an array of sweets - chocolate buttons, liquorice strings, Smarties, etc. - to decorate the entire house and the garden, including a pathway to the door. You can even use biscuits, cereal, pretzels and crackers. Pipe on icing as necessary to glue sweets to the house or base, and also use the icing to create a snowy wonderland. Get creative and let the kids go wild!