Homemade Gingerbread House

Homemade gingerbread house

North Park resident Cathy Addoms shared this recipe for a Homemade Gingerbread House in 2013. It has classic roots yet settles in nicely with contemporary cooking. 

How to Make a Homemade Gingerbread House


Gingerbread House Dough

1 cup sugar
1 cup solid shortening (margarine or Crisco)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup molasses or honey
5 cups flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Do not double this recipe but it may be cut in half. Combine all the ingredients except the flour in a large mixer bowl and blend for 1 minute.

Gradually add 5 cups of flour to the mixture. Makes a firm but sticky dough. Refrigerate dough for at least 3 hours, but overnight is better.

Roll dough on a floured surface to ¼-inch thickness. Cut patterns for the house using a small pizza cutter or pastry cutter.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Larger pieces will take longer. Cool on racks.

This recipe makes 1 large house and extra cookies or 4 small houses and cookies.

Royal Icing

6 egg whites at room temperature
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 pounds of powdered sugar

Place egg whites in large bowl of mixer and add cream of tartar. Whip to combine. When frothy add the sugar. Blend on low speed, then on high speed for 5-7 minutes or until a firm frosting forms. Store in glass or metal bowl, not plastic. Keep a damp towel over the bowl while using the frosting.

You may also use dried egg whites or meringue powder. Follow the directions on the box.

Cathy’s Tips:

  • Use a pastry cloth to roll the dough. This dough is soft, so it’s easy for children to use. The directions say not to double the recipe. Make the dough one day and put it in the refrigerator overnight and cut it the next day. Don’t try to do it all in one day. When making cookies to eat, mix half flour and half sugar on the pastry cloth. If you open a new can of baking powder, reduce what the recipe calls for so they don’t rise too fast. Put the cookies in the refrigerator for an hour after you cut them out, so they hold their shape when they bake.
  • Always make extra parts for the house, in case some break.
  • Put similar sizes on the same sheet so they bake evenly and the smaller ones don’t overbake.
  • The nice thing about the recipe is that it doesn’t have eggs in it. Ginger is a preservative like sugar, so the house will last for years. If little kids are helping, it doesn’t hurt them to eat the dough.
  • Cathy uses meringue powder to make the frosting. Keep the frosting in a metal or glass bowl, then whip it again; it doesn’t have to be refrigerated. One year she froze it and it worked OK.
  • It’s a good idea to have a wet cloth in hand.
  • For a pastry bag, you can use a zip top bag (for children use a freezer bag, because they squeeze so hard); cut off a corner to push out the frosting.
  • Use caramel where the walls join if you don’t want the line to show.
  • You don’t have to be accurate, when putting cookies on the house landscaping. Just stick them wherever you want.
  • Whenever you want to put something on, add a little more frosting to make it stick.

To Assemble the Gingerbread House:

  • It only takes about 30 minutes to do the whole thing, once the gingerbread and frosting are prepared.
  • First, frost your base — you can use a plate, a cutting board or Styrofoam (a piece of Styrofoam is best) to hold the house. Put the base on a piece of waxed paper so you can turn the house without touching it. Put frosting all over the base for snow in a thick enough layer to hold the sides of the house.
  • Start with one house wall and frost the edges. Just set it down lightly — if you push too hard it will crumble.
  • After the walls are up, put the roof on. Some people frost the roof and some people just decorate it. Don’t press too hard. Put a lot of frosting on both edges and press lightly.
  • Then start adding the decorations. Have on hand:
    • All kinds of colored sprinkles.
    • Cathy likes little red hots; they’re not too heavy so they don’t fall off.
    • Don’t use the silver dragées; they tarnish. The gold ones don’t tarnish.
    • Little M&M’s are good.
    • Christmas candy of various kinds — Cathy likes the old-fashioned pinwheels.

Want to learn more about Cathy Addoms and her quest to create her own gingerbread houses? Check out this article.