Two of my favourite holiday activities are baking (and eating) Christmas cookies, and building gingerbread houses. So, why on earth have I been buying gingerbread house kits for all these years when I could go the DIY route and make my own from scratch? Let’s face it: the stuff that comes in those store bought kits tastes like cardboard, and the real stuff is next-level delicious. Plus, it makes your house smell like a gingerbread Yankee candle. This year, I’m pulling out the old family recipe book and making some gingerbread houses from scratch. Try it yourself!
Everything You Need for a DIY Gingerbread House Kit
Whether you’re making gingerbread houses with the kids or having a gingerbread house decorating competition””which, by the way, is the most fun Zoom party activity ever””this recipe will work perfectly! Remember to bake some extra pieces to snack on. You don’t want to end up with a gingerbread house that’s missing a roof!
Gingerbread House Decorating Essentials:
- Printable gingerbread house template
- Gingerbread (recipe below)
- Royal icing
- Piping bags and piping tips for frosting
- A 12X12″ or larger square of cardboard, wrapped in gift wrap
- Colourful assorted candies
- Parchment paper
This gingerbread recipe works perfectly for making DIY gingerbread houses, gingerbread men, or heck, even a gingerbread Death Star! Just remember to let the pieces cool down and harden before constructing your masterpiece.
- 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ cup dark molasses
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 6 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp. water
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices.
- In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until creamy.
- Crank up the mixer to the highest setting and toss in the egg, water, and molasses. Turn the mixer down to low, then slowly add the flour mixture. Don’t worry if the dough is super thick and hard to mix””it’s supposed to be!
- Divide the dough into two balls, then flatten the balls into pancake shapes about 5″ in diameter. Wrap the dough pieces tightly in plastic, then refrigerate overnight.
- When you’re ready to bake your gingerbread, preheat the oven to 350 °F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Cut four large sheets of parchment paper and place them on a clean countertop. When you roll out your gingerbread dough, you’ll need to put the pieces between those sheets or parchment, or the dough will stick to your rolling pin. No matter how much flour you sprinkle on there, it’ll be super sticky!
- Roll out your dough pieces, so they’re both ¼-inch thick.
- Print out your gingerbread house template and cut out the shapes. Place those paper shapes on top of your flat dough, and use them as a stencil to cut out your shapes. Reroll your dough scraps and cut out extra shapes like stars or little gingerbread men.
- Carefully transfer your gingerbread pieces to your lined cookie sheets, with 3 inches of space between each piece. If they get a little misshapen when you move them, just smooth the edges out with your fingers.
- Bake the large pieces for 18″“20 minutes and the smaller pieces for 12″“13 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and transfer to the counter on another piece of parchment. Don’t put the pieces on a cooling rack””gingerbread needs to cool on a completely flat surface or else the edges may curl.
Once your gingerbread has sufficiently cooled, you can fill your piping bag with royal icing and begin constructing your house! You can buy your pre-made royal icing, or make it yourself by mixing 4 cups of confectioner’s sugar, 3 tbsp. of meringue powder, and 8 tbsp. of water. Let your constructed gingerbread house sit for a couple hours before decorating, or else it might topple over.
For more Christmas treats and winter fun to enjoy this season, visit us at Salisbury Greenhouse! We’ve got so much more than just plants in-store over the holidays (although the plants are a major highlight). Have a safe and happy holiday from all of us at Salisbury!