Making gingerbread houses is one of Lazy One’s favorite Christmas traditions (second only to Matching Family Pajamas of course!). Yummy gingerbread, colorful candy, unlimited creative possibilities…. yep, that’s the perfect recipe for a fun family activity! You can either make the traditional gingerbread house using actual gingerbread (obviously), you can use graham crackers in place of gingerbread if desired...
But still use the royal icing as outlined below! Here are step-by-step instructions:
Gingerbread House Recipe:
2 ¾ cups flour
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. ginger
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cloves
2/3 cups molasses
1/2 cups canola oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
1- Assemble all ingredients. (Not only does this make baking easier, you can live out your secret fantasy of being the host of a cooking show—which I may or may not do every now and then....)
2- Whisk all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
3- Add the wet ingredients and mix all ingredients together—using your hands. (It’s not as sticky as you think and actually is pretty fun!)
4- Line a jellyroll pan (17”x12” ish) with tin foil.
5- Pat the gingerbread dough onto the foil-lined pan. It will take several minutes; make it as even as you can. I roll it out a little afterwards to smooth out the finger marks.
6- Bake pan of gingerbread at 300 degrees for 25-30 minutes. (Note: your home will smell heavenly!)
7- Remove the gingerbread from the oven, put your house pattern pieces on top, and immediately cut out the patterns.
8- Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional five minutes.
9- Remove the pan from the oven and quickly trace over the cut lines again with a sharp knife; cool.
10- With a small spatula—and your fingers—very gingerly (couldn’t resist that one) pry the gingerbread pieces off of the foil and cool.
Now, you can’t have a gingerbread house without the right construction glue (a.k.a. royal icing). Otherwise, your cute creation will simply fall apart! So here’s our royal icing recipe to bring your gingerbread—and your family—together.
(Note: sampling the candy as you go along is an absolute must. You gotta make sure each type of candy is up to your very high standards, after all.)
Royal Icing Recipe:
- 1 pound (3-3/4 cups) powdered sugar (sift if lumpy!)
- 1 to 2 large egg whites (can substitute 4 teaspoons packaged egg whites and 1/4 cup water)
- 1 teaspoon almond extract, vanilla or lemon juice (the flavor you fancy)
Whip the egg whites of two large eggs in a stand-alone mixer (like a Bosch or Kitchen Aid) for a minute or two. Add the teaspoon of extract. Then dump in the powdered sugar and mix for 7-10 minutes until fluffy. Spoon the icing into a pastry-piping bag with the tip of your choice, and squeeze out the icing to build your house! (Note: if you don’t have a piping bag, you can also cut the corner of a Ziploc bag and squeeze the icing out that way).
Helpful Decorating Tips
For your candy decorations, just pick up a veggie tray at the dollar store and fill each compartment with different candy and toppings. Here are some gingerbread decorations that you might not have thought of:
- Thatched Roof: Shredded Wheat cereal
- Tiled Roof: sticks of Blackjack gum
- Log Roof: Tootsie Rolls or pretzels
- Window Shutters: Kit-Kats
- Multi-Color Christmas Lights: Fruity Pebbles cereal
- Little Villagers: Gummy or cinnamon bears
- Grass: Shredded coconut, dyed green
- Licorice ropes, peppermint candies (and canes), gumdrops
Let the creativity and fun family Christmas times begin!