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Gingerbread House

The Dough

Dough for gingerbread construction projects is perfectly edible; it just has more flour in it to make it sturdier than gingerbread cookie dough. It’s simple to put together, and should chill for at least an hour before being rolled out and cut for baking. The dough can be made and baked off in advance, and stored in an airtight container until ready to decorate or finish. Use our template to cut out your own gingerbread house.

Royal Icing

Use our recipe for Royal Icing. Watch our video on how to fill a pastry bag.

Video—How to Decorate a Gingerbread House

 

Tips for making a gingerbread house with royal icing:

  • Working quickly is very important as royal icing dries very fast once it has been piped.
  • If the Royal Icing seems too thick, it can be thinned with a tablespoon of water.
  • Royal icing dries very quickly. In order to keep it from hardening while you are working with it, store the icing in a sealed container with a damp paper towel directly on its surface.
  • If you don’t have a pastry bag available, simply use a heavy duty resealable plastic bag with one small corner cut off for the piping tip, to decorate your house.
  • Be sure to let your assembled gingerbread house dry for at least one hour before adding the candy decorations. This way, you can ensure that the weight of the candies will not collapse your structure before the Royal Icing has set.
  • It is best not to rush this process and to allow plenty of time between assembly steps so that the royal icing can properly dry.
  • For ease of piping, designs such as latticework can be piped on the pieces before gluing them together, but no candy should be placed until the house is assembled. The weight from the candy could make the house more likely to fall down while the icing dries.
  • Looking for healthier options when it comes to gingerbread house decorations? Try nuts, raisins, pretzels, dried fruit, or any other snacks that are readily available in the bulk foods section of most supermarkets.
  • Once you have completed decorating the gingerbread house, spread any leftover icing onto the base to look like snow.
  • Any leftover royal icing should be thrown out once the house is decorated, as it contains raw egg white, and should not be saved for later use. You may prefer to use pasteurized egg whites in this recipe to eliminate any food safety concerns.
  • For a finishing touch, sift a little bit of powdered sugar over the house for a “freshly fallen snow” look.

This recipe was created by CIA Chef Todd Knaster and appears in our Cookies at Home with The Culinary Institute of America (2011, Wiley), which is available at bookstores nationwide

Gingerbread House Dough recipe by The Culinary Institute of America

Ingredients

Gingerbread House Dough

  • Flourless cooking spray
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • Royal Icing as needed

Directions

Gingerbread House Dough

  1. apply royal icing to the edges of the gingerbread housePreheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly spray cookie sheets with cooking spray or line them with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, baking soda, ginger, allspice, and salt and set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and honey on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and mix until smooth and light, another 2–3 minutes. Add the sifted dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until the dough is evenly mixed.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, pat into an even disk, and chill for 10 minutes. Roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out the gingerbread house pieces using a butter knife, pizza cutter, or other utensil. Use this gingerbread house template. Transfer to the prepared cookie sheets, spacing each about 1 inch apart.
  4. Bake until firm, 12–14 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool completely before decorating, if desired. Bake the remaining dough in batches as directed.

Constructing

  1. Create the templates and attach them to some rigid cardboard. Use a utility knife or scissors to cut them out. These can be placed on the dough and used as a guide to cut out the shapes for your pieces. Create a checklist of the pieces you will need to make your house, so that you don’t forget to cut and bake any portion of it. You can also create architectural details of your choice, such as chimneys or shutters.
  2. Roll out a portion of the dough into a rectangle about 1/4-inch thick, reserving the remainder in the refrigerator. Roll the dough as evenly as possible. Cut out the pieces necessary and collect all the scraps. You can use them to roll out to cut more pieces, people, or decorative elements later. The remaining dough can also be used to cut out people and trees to decorate your scene. If you have a cookie cutter for a snowman or sleigh, those would work, too.
  3. Bake the gingerbread pieces until the edges just begin to brown. Remove them from the oven immediately and trim the pieces, as they will have spread slightly in the oven, and place the pan on a cooling rack. After 10 minutes, run a spatula under the pieces to free them from the baking sheets. Allow the pieces to finish cooling completely on the baking sheets.
  4. Cut a piece of corrugated cardboard to build you house on. Cover it with heavy-duty aluminum foil.
  5. To assemble the sides, pipe a bead of royal icing along the edges. Pipe more icing along the inside seam where the pieces meet, to reinforce the joint. Allow the four walls to dry completely for several hours or overnight before applying the roof.
  6. Pipe a bead along the seam of the joint for one side of the roof. Put the roof panel in place and use a prop to keep the roof panel from sliding down until the icing has completely hardened. Again, pipe more icing along the inside seam where the pieces meet, to reinforce the joint. Let the first roof panel dry in place for at least an hour, then repeat the process with the second half of the roof.

Decorating

  1. to decorate with candy, pipe the icingThe only rule here is that everything you use should be edible. What better treat can there be than to go to the candy aisle of your favorite store and buy anything that looks good? Gumdrops, fruit rollups, string licorice, mini marshmallows, green and red Starlight Mints, M&M’s, Necco wafers, Life Savers, cotton candy, nonpareils, dragées—they all have a place in the palette of treats you can use. Use anything you like; the candies shown here are only suggestions.
  2. Before you begin, it’s helpful to have some inexpensive art brushes and water on hand. Tweezers can be helpful for placing dragées, and cotton swabs are handy for wiping up spills or correcting mistakes before they dry.
  3. The four corners of the house where the walls are joined together are a natural place to decorate. Any candy you choose can be cemented to the seam where the two walls connect. You can drape royal icing off the eaves to make snow or icicles.
  4. Put some wet royal icing on the seam where the two walls are joined. Place candy on the icing, starting at the bottom and working your way up to the roof.to make icicles, use royal icing
  5. Trees: For colorful trees, tint some royal icing a deep green and thin it with a little water so it flows freely. Coat cut-out tree shapes by flooding or with the help of a paintbrush. Sugar-style ice cream cones are good foundation forms for making trees. Use some green royal icing and a pointed leaf tip on your pastry bag to apply the boughs for the tree.
  6. Landscaping: There are a number of things you can do to make your gingerbread house look more finished. It should be connected to the ground by having a path up to the door and some form of landscaping to show texture on the surface of the cardboard. Apply royal icing to the board or serving plate to create snow. Cobblestones can be made out of all kinds of candies. Placing people, snowmen, angels, or reindeer and Christmas trees nearby completes the scene.
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