Leave it to me to want to show the kids how to build a “real” gingerbread house. We had already completed our store bought box variety, but I thought it would be nice to show them how to do it from scratch and make it a lesson as well! That is what I love about homeschooling, we are able to incorporate pretty much everything we do into a lesson. Think about it. When you build a gingerbread house from scratch, it is not just about making dough, baking it and decorating it. We had to plan out what our house would look like, make and take measurements, build a prototype and THEN we would get to the recipe. Luckily for you, all of that prep work has been done for you. I’ve included printables below that you can use to make your own, fairly large scale house. No, we aren’t the bakers and builders at Disney World, but we did use their recipes! Make sure you buy parchment paper. We ALWAYS have parchment in our house because we never bake our cookies directly on pans anymore. It makes for quick release of cookies, they seem to bake more evenly and when making large batches, you can reuse the paper! The best part is clean up is super easy! You will also need a board to build your house on. It can even be a tray as long as it is flat.
Before you start, I will warn you. This is labor intensive and takes alot of time. It is worth it! You and your children will have memories that will last a lifetime! At the bottom of this post, you will find the recipes for both the gingerbread and the icing, the templates and my hints on how to make your gingerbread house extra special! Feel free to print them out or share them.
Additional Items Needed:
- Board or tray for the house to sit on. This will be heavy and you probably will be moving it, so make sure whatever you use is sturdy!
- Parchment paper
- Ziploc bag
- Candy to decorate the outside and lemon-lime jolly ranchers or life savers-you may have to buy several bags to get enough of the right color. If you have a Party City store, they have a huge display where you can pick out the colors you want.
- Pyrex cup
- Small strand of Christmas lights
How to begin:
I watch alot of cooking shows and the one term that has stuck in my head is “mise en place”. This literally means everything should be “set in place”. That means you should have all your ingredients in one place and even better if you have them measured out beforehand. The last thing you want is to find out when you are on the second to last step that you don’t have enough of an ingredient. so…
- Mise en place
- Combine your ingredients to make the gingerbread dough.
- Wrap the dough in either parchment or plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.
- In the hour you are waiting, start cleaning up the kitchen (you will probably need to reuse the mixing bowls for the icing unless you are blessed to have an abundance of mixing bowls). That is not the case in our house!
- Cut out the templates by placing parchment on top. It helps if you tape the paper template to the parchment. It will keep it from shifting. Remember to cut out the windows and the small arch for the light cord.
- After dough has cooled, place dough onto new parchment paper. The dough should be about 1/4 inch thick. You may have to use a little flour to keep it from sticking.
- Cut out shapes. You can reuse the roof and side template one one is cut out. You will have two matching rooftops and sides.
- If there is left over dough, let the kids make cookies!
- Place the shapes on new parchment on a pan and let cool in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- Place pans in oven for 15 minutes. If they crack a little bit from baking, you can use your icing to “glue” it together.
- Allow shapes to cool COMPLETELY.
- VERY IMPORTANT! Only adults must do this! Make it VERY clear that children are not to touch the melted candy-in fact, don’t touch it yourself! Melt candy in pyrex cup at intervals of 30sec until melted. Do not let longer because it can burn quickly!
- With the outside of pieces facing up, pour candy into the windows. Any excess will be on the inside of the house and no one will see it. Do not over fill the windows. Allow to cool completely.
- Make the icing. Place into ziploc bag, close it and cut the tip off. (unless you have a cake decorating kit)
- Place a line of icing on the board where you want the front to go and place some icing on the bottom of that piece. Stick together. While someone holds that piece (or if you are doing this alone, a can can hold it in place!), make a line where the side will go and run a bead of icing on the bottom and “side” of the side piece. That way it will attach and form the front corner of the house.
- Run a bead of icing down the outside corner of the front and side. This will form the initial glue that will hold the house together.
- Do the same with the other side.
- Place lights inside the house with the cord running out the small arch. Make sure you leave enough out to reach the outlet.
- Attach the back piece.
- Time for the roof. Icing goes on every exposed side of gingerbread that is on the house. Attach the roof and then do the same on the other side. Run a bead across the roofline to hold it in place.
- Reinforce EVERY spot on the gingerbread house with extra icing. Allow to dry.
- Time to decorate!
- Turn on lights and look at your creation! (and then post a picture on my Facebook page so I can see it!) 🙂
*** Do not leave the Christmas lights on for long. I know they are low wattage, but there will be no air circulating in your gingerbread house. I believe in safety first! ***
So, are you ready to make your own? Here are the printables! Enjoy!