Making gingerbread houses isn’t difficult, and if you’re willing to spend a little time you can make small houses yourself instead of buying a kit.
When you’re looking for a simple pattern for a small house, there are a lot of choices. This is the one that I use to make a little house that’s fast to decorate, and is the right size for little kids to decorate without getting frustrated!
Small gingerbread house pattern:
This pattern can be downloaded and printed on a regular sheet of printer paper in portrait mode. It makes a small house that can generally be created using one recipe of gingerbread for houses if it’s rolled out to about 1/4″ thick. The windows and doors can be cut out or not, depending on whether you want to add those details or not.
You can also scale this pattern up or down to make a slightly larger or smaller house. Keep reading for tips on how I cut this out and bake the pieces.
Here’s a basic A-Frame style design if you prefer a house with sloping walls:
How to roll out the dough for a gingerbread house.
When rolling out the dough to make a small gingerbread house, it should be about 1/4″ thick. Smaller pieces don’t need to be thicker than that because they won’t be supporting large sections of the structure. Use quarter-inch dowels on either side of the rolling pin as a guide to prevent the dough from being rolled out too thin.
Roll the dough out on a piece of parchment paper that’s been cut to fit the cookie sheet. That will allow you to cut the pieces out directly without having to move them.
When gingerbread dough is rolled out unevenly, it will bake too quickly in spots, and it can be too weak to be used without breaking.
1/4″ thick is a good guideline for smaller houses, and using the dowels is a good way to keep everything the same thickness.
The construction-grade gingerbread that I use is baked at 325 degrees F for about 25 minutes, or until the gingerbread looks like it’s pretty well dried out. (Get that recipe by clicking here.) This recipe doesn’t spread very much, but it’s good to put the dough in the fridge for a little while to chill it before baking.
If you want to use a different recipe that’s intended more for eating than for building, this house is small enough that it will probably be fine. Just make sure to read about cooling completely at the end of this article!
How to cut out gingerbread house pieces.
To cut out the pieces of a gingerbread house using a template, cut the pattern pieces out, then use them to cut the shapes from the rolled gingerbread using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter. If the gingerbread is rolled out onto the parchment paper, you can cut the pieces out and leave them on the paper to avoid stretching them when they’re moved.
I cut the pieces of my house out using the pattern and a pizza cutter. I like the pizza cutter because it doesn’t drag the gingerbread and it cuts continuous straight lines.
You can also leave the pieces butted up against each other to prevent them from spreading out. That will keep the edges even and will help the house fit together better.
If you want to cut out doors and windows, this is when to do that. You can either use a small knife to cut them out, or you can use cookie cutters in different shapes.
If you have scraps of gingerbread that you want to use to make shutters, chimneys, doors, or other decorations, you can do that and add them to the sheet so that they bake along with the other pieces.
How to even up the edges after they’re baked.
To even up the edges of the house after it’s baked, you can use the pizza cutter or a knife to remove any sections that have spread out too much. This needs to be done before the gingerbread cools off or it will be too hard to cut with a knife. An alternate method would be to wait until the pieces cool, then use scissors or a grater to trim the edges.
If you’ve baked everything right next to each other, you probably won’t have too much to even out. The outside pieces might have spread a little, so just cut off any edges that aren’t straight anymore. If you want to use the patterns you can, or just eyeball it.
Another thing you can do to make everything even is to cut the inside edges with the pizza cutter or a knife before the gingerbread cools off. You don’t have to do this, but it will make it easier to separate the pieces cleanly later if you do.
Make sure to let the pieces cool on a flat surface, and if the parchment paper is curling up on the edges like mine was, make sure to weigh it down to keep the pieces flat.
Gingerbread house pieces that cool off flat will fit together much easier, and you won’t have to deal with gaps and trying to fill things in with icing. Make sure that they cool off COMPLETELY before you start assembling them.
It’s REALLY important that the house pieces are cool and totally dried out before you use them. If you try to use them before they cool and dry out, they might end up sagging and collapsing. Baking two days before decorating, then assembling the day before, will give everything enough time to cool off and for the royal icing to dry.
My pieces are cooling on the counter now, and I’ll assemble and decorate tomorrow. Make sure to give yourself time in advance and you won’t have trouble with your gingerbread houses. Trying to do everything the same day is going to be stressful and sad because you probably won’t end up with good results!
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