I first made this Spiced Gingerbread House in December of 2009. My baking skills were pretty basic and I had never tried building anything like house out of gingerbread. This was a couple of years after I started blogging and I was part of a then very well known group called the Daring Bakers. I was over thousands of members strong from all pars of the world. Some of us very expert bakers, some novices like me and the rest somewhere in between. The Daring Bakers were a knowledgeable and extremely supportive group of bakers. Unfortunately, like many good things, it came to an end.
One of the Daring Baker challenges, set by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi, was to bake and assemble a Spiced Gingerbread House. There were two different recipes to choose from and adapt to our heart’s content. I adapted the Scandinavian Gingerbread (Pepparkakstuga) recipe from The Scandinavian Baking Book. This recipe doesn’t require molasses and is egg free. Gingerbread recipes used for making houses tend to be more about sturdiness and texture than taste. I personally found this recipe good taste-wise too. It’s not too sweet which works with the amount of sugar that comes from the icing and candies used for decoration. The aroma of the spices is just delightful.
We don’t celebrate Christmas and I almost didn’t do this challenge. My daughter was excited at the idea of making a gingerbread house from scratch. My sister was down for a short stay, so we both decided to indulge the girl and make the gingerbread house. As it turned out, my sister and I were stuck with making and decorating most of it. The girl’s term exams were over, and she went off to celebrate the beginning of the holidays with a movie and a sleepover at her friend’s place!
Gingerbread was not a part of my growing up years except in my childhood story books. Though a sad story, Hansel and Gretel’s discovery of a a decorated edible house seemed exciting. Imagine being able to snack on a house decorated with sweets, cookies and chocolate whenever one wanted! A diet of no vegetables and just a lot of chocolate seemed perfect to my then 8 year old mind. Later, gingerbread brought back memories of reading the “Gingerbread Man” to my then toddler. She loved the story of how the gingerbread man would outwit everyone and not let them eat him. I never would finish the story because she didn’t want hear the sad part where the wily fox ate the gingerbread man.
I picked an easy template for the front and back walls (one with a door and round window cut out), two side walls and the roof. I drew them on a piece of cardboard and cut them out to size.
The Side Walls : Cut two rectangular pieces, each 5″ wide and 3″ high.
The Front and Back Walls : Cut two pieces 5.5″ wide and 6.5″ at the highest point and 3″ high from the bottom to the beginning of the slope upwards. On the front wall, the door measures 2.5″ high and 1.5″ wide. The round window is 1.25″ in diameter.
The Roof : Cut two pieces each, 6″ wide and 6″ high.
Cut out other shapes like stars, candy canes, trees, gingerbread man and women, etc. as desired for decorating the house.
You can do this whole project over 3 days which makes things easier. Bake the spiced gingerbread on the first day. Store in airtight containers. Pipe and decorate the walls, roof, cookies on the second day. Allow them about half a day to dry. Stick together the roof panels and then the four walls as well with thick royal icing placing supports to help them stay in position. Let these dry overnight. Put the roof into place on the third day and do last minute decorating. Your Spiced Gingerbread House is ready.
Spiced Gingerbread House
For the Gingerbread:
- 200 gm unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups golden brown sugar
- 2 tbsp Cinnamon
- 4 tsp ground dried ginger
- 3 tsp ground cloves
- 2 tsp ground allspice
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- ½ cup boiling water
For the Royal Icing:
- 1 large egg white
- 3 cups powdered/ icing sugar
- 1 tsp white vinegar or lime juice
- 1 tsp vanilla or almond extract optional
To make the Gingerbread Pieces and Cookies :
- Cream together the butter and sugar until blended. Mix the cinnamon, ginger and cloves with the flour and add to the bowl.
- Mix the baking soda with the boiling water and add to the dough along with the flour. Knead to make a stiff dough. If necessary add a little more water, a tablespoon at a time. Roll the rough out into two rounds and flatten each into a disc. Wrap with clingfilm and chill the dough for about 2 hours or overnight.
- If chilling overnight, bring the dough to room temperature before working with it. In the meantime cut out the templates for the gingerbread house on cardboard.
- Roll the dough out to about 1/8-inch thickness on a large, ungreased baking sheet. Place the patterns on the dough. Mark off and neatly cut the various pieces with a knife. Mark pieces like doors and windows but leave these pieces in place. They can be removed after baking if necessary. Carefully re-roll scraps and cut out shapes with cookie cutters to decorate the gingerbread house.
- I rolled the dough thicker for the walls so they are structurally stronger, and thinner for the roof, trees and gingerbread people and other shapes.
- Bake the cut outs at 190C (375F) for 12 to 15 minutes until the cookie dough feels firm and edges just start turning golden. After baking, again place the pattern on top of the gingerbread and trim the shapes, cutting the edges with a straight-edged knife. Leave to cool on the baking sheet.
- Then decorate the roof, walls, cookies, etc before assembling the house.
For the Royal Icing :
- Beat the egg white in a medium to large bowl till frothy but not stiff. Beat in remaining ingredients till smooth, adding the powdered sugar gradually to get the desired consistency.
- You will need reasonably thick icing the consistency of thick glue to stick the pieces together. Add a little more powdered sugar if necessary to get this consistency. Piped on the house, this will set up hard over time.
- Thin some of the icing with a little water for piping consistency. Pipe and decorate all the pieces as required and allow to dry before assembling.
- If you aren't using the icing all at once you can keep it in a small bowl, loosely covered with a damp towel for a few hours until ready to use. You may have to beat it slightly to get it an even consistency if the top sets up a bit.
Assembling the Gingerbread House :
- As mentioned earlier, pipe the icing and decorate all the pieces using whatever candy you want. Then assemble the pieces together. Start by joining the roof pieces together using thick royal icing and laying them on their side at the correct angle. Use glass bottles to support them so they do not fall. Let it dry well. Similarly put the walls together. Once this is done, place the walls on your base plate or board. Gently place the roof and glue with icing. Let it dry completely. Stick candies on the rib edge of the roof to hide the icing.
This post was originally part of the Daring Bakers group challenge for December 2009. It has been updated with text and images.
RJ Flamingo says
I think you did a fabulous job! That gingerbread house looks adorable – I know I would never have dared it! 🙂
Such a lovely home! I totally chickened out at the thought of doing something as complicated as this.
Wow you created one beautiful house! I love it! So pretty!
Deeba PAB says
Gorgeous & picture perfect Aparna…wonderful. I had a fab time building it too! xoxo
Aww… so colourful & pretty 🙂
Aparna, you did such a great job!! I love all the cute shapes and the piping details are wonderful! 🙂
Tasty Eats At Home says
This is your first gingerbread house? Wow. Looks so wonderful!
You have done a very fabulos job, Just beautiful.
Random Thoughts says
your gingerbread house is fabulous aparna….the royal icing decoration is very intricate…. kudos
That is such a gorgeous house! Funny that your daughter was the one who was excited about constructing a house to begin with, and didn’t even end up helping! (Ah, the 2-second attention spans of kids these days..;P) Your verdict is pretty spot on with what I found too, and I’m glad you had the opportunity to harness the ‘inner architect’ in you 🙂
Your gingerbread house does not reflect the fact that you have never made one before. In fact, this is one of the most professional looking house I have seen. Beautiful work!
OMG, your gingerbread house looks absolutely fabulous. Wishing you great holidays and a happy new year.
Your house is precious! I love the decorations and how you put it all together – its simply stunning!
Its awesome…one of the best ive seen so far…
The best looking Gingerbread house, Aparna!Looks fab!
Your house is so lovely! Look at all that gorgeous piping! You are an icing master!!
Great built! The decoration is very pretty!
Karen @ Citrus and Candy says
Your house is amazing! The colours, the piping and the roof decorations – it’s so perfect 😀
This looks absolutely beautiful. Happy holidays and all the best for the upcoming New Year.
Your gingerbread house looks so pretty, i love all those details! great job! 🙂
It’s good you didn’t skip this challenge, otherwise we would never see your beautiful little gingerbread house! Well done!
Your house is perfect.It looks like a confectioners dream.I am sure your daughter loved it.
It’s the perfect Hansel & Gretel house! Beautiful, well done.
What a beautiful gingerbread house, Aparna! You’d never know this was your first try!
Hi Aparna,Just got back home and first thing I did was to see how the house looked in your post!!! Looks wonderful and it sure was a lot of fun helping to put it together.Another ‘never done before’ beautifully conquered!
Natalie, aka "Sheltie Girl" says
You’re house is so beautiful! You did a great job. Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go
wow, this is a beautiful house! love the decorations you made with the royal icing and all the different shapes you cut out.
Natashya KitchenPuppies says
What a wonderful gingerbread house! I was thinking Hansel and Gretel as soon as I saw it too. Breathtaking. And I always have great luck with B.O.’s recipes too.
What a cute house Aparna – a lovely decorating job, and I’m so glad that your sister enjoyed eating it.
Fabulous job… House looks so perfect..
it looks so wonderful! colourful & pretty!!..thank you for the comments and dropping by! Happy New Year!
Hi Aparna, I’ve heard the same thing about gingerbread houses – they are better to be looked at than eaten. Having said that, I am glad you found a recipe that you enjoyed doing both with! Your house looks so festive!
what a wonderful masterpiece aparna! this is a house to be cherished. i am so glad to see you did this challenge – sending you all my hugs!
Absolutely darling little house Aparna – Kudos!!!
bake in paris says
Very colorful and beautiful little house you have there! It brings out the festive mood and joy :)Sawadee from Bangkok,Kris
It looks so very beautiful! Thank you so much for the lovely New Year Wishes! A very Happy New Year 2010 to you and your family too!
nithya praveen says
Lovely one….very colorful and beautiful.As always great click too:)Wish you a wonderful New year!
No. Way. Your house is -amazing-! Just the right balance of color and whimsy, while still being quite elegant overall. Very impressive work, Aparna. 🙂
Glad to hear your dough didn’t give you trouble. I find that Beatrice’s recipes do work as well! Gorgeous cottage — love the shot of all the pieces decorated and ready to go. Excellent job!
Very neat and totally impressive.Best wishes for 2010 😀
Glad to see you’re getting back into the groove. I wish I could live in those pretty houses.
Aparna that is gorgeous!!!!
Beautiful job! I love the whole thing, but the roof tiles in particular caught my eye. It’s such a gorgeous design.All the best for 2010. 🙂
I love the roof.. a very cute design 🙂
Priya Suresh says
Cute and elegant house…tremendous work Aparna..
Coffee and Vanilla says
What a beautiful house!! I love it!My daughter and I we made some biscuit house as well, but is not even half that impressive…Happy New Year!!Margot
Clumbsy Cookie says
How cute! It’s really super cute! I love the color palet you chose for the roof!
Your gingerbread house is really cute, I love the way it’s decorated. Lovely baking!All the best for 2010 🙂
Very very pretty house Aparna. Wow, you are trully an artist.
Awesome work and hat off to your work.
Julia @Mélanger says
Well done. Just a wonderful job. I agree about the flavour of Beatrice’s gingerbread. Not too sweet, but combined with the icing (and other sugary treats) just perfect!
You are very skilled. This is so magical and gorgeous looking. Happy New Year!
What fun! I am sure you sisters remembered all the childhood ‘mami mami’ game:). The house looks so beautiful!
Outstanding. Happy New Year.
Daring Engineer – love it 🙂 Great looking house, and great you finally got to make and try it. I agree with it being disappointing to pull it apart after the effort.
Wow. Picture perfect, wish I could live in it!!!! Wish you and your family a very happy new year.
Aparna, one of the prettiest GB houses in this challenge! It looks like the ones you see in ads for Xmas! Besutifully done, but I’m not at all surprised with your talent! Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy New Year!
Bong Mom says
What a pretty pretty GB House !!! I have never tasted one yet, though I have had GB man and none of them tasted as good as yours looksHave a great Year Ahead Aparna. Warm wishes for 2010
Aparna, your house looks amazing! =D. I love the colourful decorations and the icing patterns.Best wishes for you and your family in 2010. Happy New Year!
How adorable!! Do you really have the heart to eat this ? 🙂 I would save this for ever.Happy New Year to you and your family Aparna.
Oh my goodness, that is just completely adorable! I really love all of yoru decorations, especially the cookies on the side. Way to rise to the occasion.
SO cute! Love it.
Wow, what a fabulous gingerbread house!Great shape, lovely decorations and beautiful colors-It truly is a Hanzel and Gretel house.Wtg for the fabulous job!Inbal(also a DB)
lata raja says
Pat yourself on your back ENGINEER!!! The house looks so beautiful.
house looks great! great job!
So U get to venture into your dream carreer : architect. house looks perfect…happy new year…
Looks very beautiful and tastyGreat photosGreetings, Diana
Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] says
Wow Aparna! You really outdid yourself. A great job. The house looks amazing. And I’ve never tasted gingerbread either, which is surprising, because I always wanted to make gingerbread men when I was younger!
This looks so cute!
Thank you, thank you *bowing*.Had a lot of help on this one, and I think it was one of the “funnest” challenges I’ve done in a while.