Build a Gingerbread House From Scratch

Learn how to build a gingerbread house from scratch for the holidays, includes recipes for making gingerbread for the gingerbread house, royal icing recipe, a pattern for the gingerbread house and instructions on how to put your gingerbread house together.

| December 1999/January 2000

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    Diagram: Pattern to build the gingerbread house.
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    Building the gingerbread house.
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    Decorated gingerbread cookies.
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    Not only is this a fun project for family members of all ages but the homemade house makes a great looking centerpiece for your holiday table.

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Build a gingerbread house from scratch using this gingerbread house recipe, royal icing recipe and easy-to-use gingerbread house pattern. (See the gingerbread pattern in the image gallery.)

Every December, I would gaze at festive ginger-bread houses displayed in bakery windows, dreaming of creating such a masterpiece. I could only dream, since my gingerbread house experience was limited to sticking graham crackers together with frosting and creating a gingerbread tent. Until last year, that is, when I met Colleen, who not only owns a fancy cake bakery in Chicago called "Cake by Colleen," but is also a gingerbread house expert. I attended a mini-class at Colleen's bakery, where she shared some of her gingerbread house secrets.

Making my gingerbread house took a little time and patience, but it wasn't difficult. Not only is learning how to build a gingerbread house from scratch a fun project for family members of all ages but the homemade house makes a great looking centerpiece for your holiday table. (My gingerbread house is sitting on my oak buffet surrounded by evergreen boughs.)

You will need:

Ingredients for gingerbread and royal icing (see recipes below).
A piece of thick cardboard (about 12 inch by 16 inch), covered with heavy-duty aluminum foil.
Assorted candies, cookies, cereal, etc., for decorating.
small cookie cutters: trees, teddy bears, gingerbread people (optional).
A card table covered with plastic to use as a work space, so the project doesn't interfere with family mealtime.

The Gingerbread House Plan:

This project is easier with at least two helpers so schedule a day on your calendar (preferably in November or early December) when the gang's all there.

Before you shop for ingredients, hunt around the house for candy, small cookies, goldfish crackers, mini-marshmallows, ice cream cones to use for evergreen trees, cereal such as bite-size frosted shredded wheat for roofing, small pretzels for fences, etc. I found some dried banana chips that I used to pave a stone path in front of the door and some pink wafer cookies that made cute window, shutters.


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