08 March 2021 (updated)

Ideas for a Showstopper Gingerbread House

With some extra time at home and baking on the list of things to do this year to keep our families sane over the holidays, a gingerbread house sounds like a welcomed way to fill our extra hours indoors.

What Can I Use to Make a Gingerbread House?

The beauty of gingerbread houses is their ability to be changed and customized to your own imagination! Typically, you'll use a gingerbread base, which is a lot easier to make when you bake it with a gingerbread cookie mold. You can also use a template online to form your own gingerbread pieces.

For the dough, there are plenty of brands like Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines that make pre-made mixes where you simply add 2-3 ingredients, but you can also make it from scratch for an authentic flavor.

For an easy gingerbread house recipe with sturdy walls, all you need is 6 cups flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 4 tsp ground ginger, 4 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground allspice (or cloves), 1/2 tsp salt, 1-1/2 sticks of butter, 1-1/2 cups light brown sugar, 2 large eggs, 1 cup dark molasses, and 1 tbsp water. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the brown sugar and butter until well blended and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, molasses, and water until fully combined. Beat half the dry ingredient mixture into the molasses mixture until smooth. Stir in the rest of the flour and knead until well-blended. If the dough is too soft, add more flour. Divide the dough and chill overnight.

What's the History of the Gingerbread House?

It seems like a funny concept: a house made out of cookies. Apparently, the first known recipe for gingerbread comes from Greece in 2400 B.C. The hard cookies became a popular staple in Medieval England, France, Germany, and Holland. Queen Elizabeth I is credited with decorating the cookies in their traditional fashion with white piped icing, as she used to decorate them to resemble dignitaries who visited her court.

Gingerbread houses became popular in 16th century Germany, decorated with foil, gold leaf, and the famous piped icing. However, the concept was especially popularized by the Brothers Grimm tale of Hansel and Gretel. The famous witch in their story lived in a gingerbread house adorned entirely with sweets.

What Is the Best Icing for a Gingerbread House?

The edible adhesive for gingerbread houses is called "royal icing," and it's made of cream, egg whites, and powdered sugar. While this is traditional, if you're experiencing the frustration that I have in the past, and you're not trying to eat your house, sometimes a little bit of real glue is necessary.

Royal Icing for Gingerbread Houses

The perfect icing that will hold together your beautiful gingerbread creation

5 from 7 votes


PREP TIME

10 mins

COOK TIME

a few seconds

TOTAL TIME

10 mins





COURSE

Craft

CUISINE

American

SERVINGS

32 tbsp

CALORIES

44.0 kcal

INGREDIENTS

  • 2

    large

    egg whites

    room temperature

  • 3

    cups

    powdered sugar

  • 1/2

    tsp

    cream of tartar

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Royal Icing

    1. Whip.

      In a mixing bowl, whip egg whites until light and foamy, then add the cream of tartar. Continue mixing for 30 seconds

    2. Gradually add sugar.

      Gradually add in powdered sugar, mixing well.

    3. Mix icing.

      Turn mixer on high and continue beating until thickened and the icing holds its shape (this should be about 3-5 minutes).

NUTRITION

Calories:

44.0 kcal

Carbohydrates:

12.0 g

Potassium:

10.0 mg

Serving Amount:

2

Serving Unit:

tbsp

Sodium:

3.0 mg

Sugar:

12.0 g

Creative Gingerbread House Ideas

Surprisingly, gingerbread houses don't have to be made of just gingerbread! You can also use pop-tarts, graham crackers, or even waffles for a fun twist on the classic home.

  • Gingerbread Castle: Are you more of the type who prefers a chateau? We get it. You like nice things. That's why you need a gingerbread castle in your life.
  • Gingerbread Lighthouse: I love this idea, especially with my home in Virginia Beach. It gives an old beachy vibe to the traditional sugary confection. You could surround it with blue icing as water.

photo by @chestersonqueen-- a part of the Chester Christmas Village

  • Hagrid's Hut: You're a wizard, Harry! Hagrid is everyone's favorite groundskeeper from the iconic series. He's always accidentally revealing information to the kids and fiercely loyal to his school and friends. While Hogwarts would also be a cool idea, Hagrid's hut may just be a little more do-able.
  • Gingerbread Hotel: Room service! If you're feeling ambitious, take your ginger-bread making game to new heights with a hotel! This may not be for the beginner builders, but it can be fun to design!
  • Gingerbread Barn: If you love all things country farmhouse chic, this is perfect for you. You could even include gingerbread animals to set the scene!
  • Gingerbread Camper: Perfect for the adventurers among us. Finally, your gingerbread man can go camping in style!
  • Log Cabin: Use pretzel rods for the logs for a cabin fit for Honest Abe.
  • Gingerbread Nativity: Back to the classics. This is a great opportunity to talk with your kids about the story of the first Christmas. And I can't think of many things cuter than a gingerbread sheep.
  • Gingerbread Cottage:  Use frosted mini-wheats for a thatched-roof look to complete your countryside hideaway.

Ideas for Roofs/Shingles:

  • Necco wafers
  • Pecans
  • Almond slivers
  • Piroulines
  • Cinnamon toast crunch
  • Mini Nilla wafers
  • Gumdrops (dots)

Ideas for Siding

  • Almonds for foundry siding
  • Sticks of gum to create colorful siding
  • Sugar wafers
  • Use different textured jellybeans and nuts on the outside to create a stone effect.

That's the Gingerbread Rock

These are just ideas to get you started. Let your imagination run wild! Whether it's an iconic house from one of your favorite or a replica of your own, let your creative side take charge and see what happens!



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