It is no wonder Hansel and Gretel were in awe of the witch's gingerbread cottage. Bedecked with candy and chocolate, it must have seemed like a dream come true to the hungry, outcast children. With a great house design, some patience and a lot of devotion, you can build an awe-inspiring gingerbread house, too. Gingerbread will make strong, sturdy pieces for the walls, roof and chimney; thick icing will serve as the mortar to hold everything together; and goodies galore can adorn your structure, which you can make for decoration, eating, or both.
Things You'll Need
- Wax paper
- Gingerbread dough
- Rolling pin
- Cookie sheet
- Pastry bag
- Royal icing
- Assorted candy
Design and Bake Pieces
Choose the house size, shape and look you want. Draw the pieces of the pattern on cardboard. Make sure the house sides can accommodate an angled roof. Make a chimney with four sides and a chimney top. Cut out the cardboard pieces with scissors.
Place wax paper on a flat surface, and sprinkle a little flour on top. Divide the gingerbread dough into two pieces, and place one piece on the wax paper. Spread it out evenly with the rolling pin. A thickness of a quarter-inch is just right. Spread a little flour on top of the dough as you roll it so the rolling pin doesn't stick to the dough. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
Place the pattern pieces on top of the rolled out dough, and cut along the pattern lines with a small, sharp knife. Make brick lines in the chimney, and cut out any doors and windows you want open. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange the pieces on a cookie sheet with wax paper, separating the large pieces from the small ones.
Bake the gingerbread pieces in the oven for 11 to 15 minutes for large house and roof pieces, 6 to 8 minutes for the small chimney pieces. When the edges begin to darken, the piece is done. Remove the baked pieces from the oven, and trim the edges so the shapes still fit the pattern.
Build the House
Work on a cookie sheet, piece of cardboard or other flat surface. With a pastry bag, pipe royal icing along the front edge of one of the side pieces. Press it to the side of the front piece. Hold together for a few minutes until set. Do the same with the other side. Place the back piece on the house by icing each end to a side piece. If you need to, use a can from the pantry to help prop the pieces as you build. Line the bottom of the house with icing.
Pipe icing all along the top of the house, lining the top edge of each of the four pieces. Place the two roof pieces on top of the house so the two pieces meet in the middle. Hold on the roof for a few minutes. Line the top seam in the roof with icing. Let set. After an hour, you can put on your chimney. Eight hours gives you a more secure house.
Trim the bottom of the chimney pieces to make angles that will fit the roof top. Put the chimney together with icing, and pipe icing along the bottom edge before gently placing it on the roof. Hold for a few minutes.
Decorate the house with candies and icing. Choose your favorite candies in the colors you want. Gum drops and candy canes are traditional choices. Chocolate kisses can make nice hedges or walls.
Draw a design on the house front with icing, and decorate around the windows and door. Glue candy decorations to the house with icing. Vivid gum drops in reds, greens, yellows and whites will make your house beautiful. If you have kisses, line them up in rows surrounding your house.
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