I currently live in Charlotte, NC and after spending 7 years as a personal chef and caterer, I am now happy to share my love of cooking with friends and family. My heart is in the kitchen, but my soul is in the stars!

Home for the Holidays

Baking gingerbread houses has been a tradition in my family for quite some time. My mother took an Agriculture Extension workshop years ago to learn how to make them and when I was younger, I'd sit at the table and "help" mostly by eating candy, chattering incessantly and getting covered in the sticky icing. I'm sure I was more of a pest who tried her patience (some things never change, do they Mom?) while she was trying to concentrate on her creations, but the activity would become one of those traditions that I have and will always associate with my mother this time of year. I was so excited to see that gingerbread houses would be this month's Daring Bakers' challenge.

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

It seems that other DBers had problems with the dough recipes but I didn't use either of the choices, opting instead to use my tried and true recipe which makes between 4 and 5 houses. Once you get started, there's really no difference between making 1 house or 5 ~ it's sort of an assembly line process. There's nothing I enjoy more than seeing the look on my friends' faces when I give them one of the houses as a gift. One of my houses went to my lovely friend, the Greek Goddess and another to my friend Mary so her little boy could enjoy it. The other 2 houses were given as door prizes at my holiday cookie exchange party that I hosted a couple of weeks ago.

I've posted my recipe below and the template that I use is posted here so start a new tradition in your family next year by baking and building the house of your dreams!

Thank you Anna and Y for a fun challenge.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Gingerbread House Recipe

Recipe By :Sullivan County Extension Homemakers Club

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
7 to 8 Cups Sifted All Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Soda
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Nutmeg
3 Teaspoons Ginger
1 Cup Shortening
1 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 Cups unsulphered Molasses -- use light color
2 Each Eggs
1 Cup Additional Flour -- 1-2 cups
Royal Icing:
3 Each Eggs Whites -- room temp
4 Cups Confectioner's Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Cream of Tarter

Sift together first 5 ingredients. Blend together molasses, shortening, sugar and eggs. Stir dry ingredients into molasses mixture. Add enough of the additional flour to make a dough stiff enough to be shaped into a disc. Refrigerate overnight for easier handling. Can be frozen.

Will make 4-5 small gingerbread house using this pattern.

Roll to about 1/4" thickness on a floured cookie sheet. Trace the house pattern pieces onto typing paper and cut out. Arrange pattern pieces on cookie dough and carefully cut around each pattern being certain to allow 1/2" space between pieces to allow the dough to expand as it bakes.

Cut the dough with a sharp paring knife or the edge of a metal pancake turner. Be certain the walls and roof are the same size as the patterns. Remove scraps leaving house pieces on the cookie sheet. Do not attempt to shift pieces once they have been cut out. This will stretch the dough and distort the shape. Bake at 350 12-15 mins.

Carefully loosen then remove each piece with a metal pancake turner. Cool on a wire rack. When the walls are completely cooled, place a sheet of aluminum foil on the cookie sheet shiny side up. Arrange the walls on the foil. With a hammer, pulverize a few pieces of hard clear candy in a plastic bag. Spoon some of the crushed candy into each window. Return the cookie sheet to the oven and bake a few mins in order to melt the candy. Watch carefully, the candy melts quickly. Remove pieces from the cookie sheet and cool on a rack. When completely cooled (don't rush this cooling step) peel the foil from the backs of each wall. The foil will peel easily from the window if it has cooled sufficiently.

I usually allow my house pieces to sit for a day or so to dry out just a bit. They seem to be a little too soft to assemble the houses on the same day as baking. My houses are constructed on a 12x12 piece of white styrofoam.

Assemble using Royal Icing as "glue". Glue the walls together first. When icing has hardened (about 15 mins) then glue on the roof. Glue on the chimney and door. When icing has hardened you may begin decorating the house with additional icing and candy.

Suggested candies: cinnamon red hots, starlight peppermints, candy canes, gum drops, miniature marshmallows, M&M's, sweettarts, silver dragees.

Make a larger house by increasing the size of the pattern pieces. As you assemble a larger house, stuff a small string of miniature Christmas lights inside the house with the cord sticking out. Your gingerbread house can glow with the lights are plugged in. Make a gingerbread house for your pet. Use yellow, pink, or orange hard clear candies for the windows.

Royal Icing: Purchase Wilton Meringue Powder where cake decorating supplies are sold and follow the recipe on the can for Royal Icing. Or, use the scratch recipe above. Do NOT use a shortening based frosting. When making Royal Icing, it is essential that all mixing utensils are grease free. The slightest bit of oil or grease will case the Royal Icing to break down. Royal Icing dries quickly so keep the bowl covered with a damp cloth at all times. Can be refrigerated.

Beat all icing ingredients at high speed for 7-10 mins. Add more sugar for a stiffer consistency if necessary. Makes 2-1/2 cups.


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Lauren said...

Adorable houses! They are all so festive and gorgeous =D.

Anonymous said...

Soooo cute! Well done!

Gala said...

Those chocolate wafers really make nice roof tiles! Your houses look delicious!

silverrock said...

Awww... your gingerbread house looks super cute. Did you use necco wafers for the roofing?? What a brilliant idea! Can't what to see what you bake up in the New Year!

Karin said...

Alison, I used your mom's recipe and loved it!! Thanks for sharing...please check out my post on

Your houses look great!

Flirting with Flour said...

Hi Alison! Nice to meet you too! I was sure there were other DBs hiding in the Charlotte area :) Your houses are fantastic!! FIVE of them!!! I made both batches of dough and ended up with one sub-par house. Next time I'll try your recipe!