When you make a gingerbread house you’ll either want a recipe that’s really sturdy and is more for building, or one that is actually meant to be eaten and tastes good!
The problem with the ones that taste good is that they usually include more ingredients that make them softer, so they might not stand up to building large structures very well.
Or they might be more likely to absorb humidity from the air and soften up and collapse! But if you only build small houses with those recipes, they’ll be fine, and you can actually eat the house later, which is a bonus.
This is the recipe that we used when I was a kid, and it works to make small houses and it also tastes good.
If it’s too soft, you can put it back in the oven on a low temperature, and that will dry it out so that you can build the house and decorate it.
After that, the house might soften up a little (or a lot if you’re in a really humid place) but it will probably be fine to stay in one piece until it’s time to break it up and eat it.
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Gingerbread house dough recipe
(Makes 5-6 houses depending on the thickness of the dough, using the template below)
- 7 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp sale
- 1 tsp each ginger, cloves, cinnamon, allspice
- 1/3 cup shortening
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cup dark molasses
- 2/3 cup cold water (you might need 1 cup)
For the royal icing:
- 1 pound confectioner’s sugar (about 4 cups)
- 3 egg whites or 3 Tbsp meringue powder
- 1/3 cup water
Preheat the oven to 350 F
- Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, using a mixer or a spoon, then kneading the dough to incorporate the final ingredients. Use as much water as you need to make a dough that holds together but isn’t too wet.
- Roll the dough out on a floured counter, or a piece of parchment paper. Roll out the dough about 1/4″ thick.
- Use the template for a small house or a different template of your choice.
- Cut out the pieces and place on a baking sheet. If you rolled the dough on parchment paper, just remove the excess dough from around the cut-out shapes, then put the parchment paper on the sheet.
- Extra dough can be wrapped and refrigerated or frozen.
- Bake in a 350″ oven for about 15 minutes, or until the pieces are evenly dried out.
Let the house pieces cool off completely before assembling the house.
To make the royal icing, beat all of the ingredients together using a mixer until the icing is stiff. If the icing is too stiff, add a little extra water but only add about 1/2 tsp at a time. Royal icing goes from too stiff to too runny very easily!
When beating the icing, pay attention to your mixer. Royal icing can be difficult for a lot of hand mixers to handle because it’s so stiff, so if your mixer starts to strain to work, turn it off before it burns out. The icing will still work to glue the house together.
Keep the bowl covered with a damp paper towel or plastic wrap to keep the icing from drying out as you work.
What’s the difference between construction gingerbread and regular gingerbread?
Construction gingerbread is made with fewer ingredients that attract moisture, like molasses and sugar. This results in a type of gingerbread that bakes harder and resists softening due to absorbing humidity. Because sugar is hygroscopic, meaning that it attracts and absorbs moisture, the lower amount of sugars in construction gingerbread means that it will be sturdier and stay harder than regular gingerbread.
For a recipe for construction gingerbread, you can read this article, where I go over how to make that version: Sturdy Gingerbread House Recipe
The recipe above will make gingerbread that’s edible but can also be made into houses, so it’s a good compromise.
It can potentially soften up if it’s really humid, though. We lived in southern Florida for a while when I was a kid, and we used this recipe to make houses.
It did get soft after we assembled and decorated them, but they would remain standing! If you’re worried about the gingerbread softening, you can bake the pieces a little thicker so that they’re a little more substantial.
You can also bake the gingerbread ahead of time, then put the pieces back into a warm oven on about 200 degrees to dry them out before assembling the house. Make sure that the pieces have cooled off before assembling the house!
Small gingerbread house template.
This template goes with the recipe above, and you’ll be able to make 5-6 houses depending on how thick you roll out the dough.
Click here to download the template: Small basic gingerbread house template
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