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Gingerbread House Construction

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We are getting lots of questions about gingerbread houses. I happily refer people to our article Gingerbread House and More Baubles from Your Kitchen, which includes a template for making the entire house. And I also offer a re-posting of a topic from 2006 about "construction" gingerbread, as follows:

For you creative types, here is a recipe for "construction gingerbread" that a nice lady from the King Arthur Flour Company was kind enough to mail to me. It's right out of their excellent cookbook, "The King Arthur Cookie Companion" which is, of course, available on www.amazon.com at

http://www.amazon.com/King-Arthur-Flour-Cookie-Companion/dp/0881506591/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1258577171&sr=1-1 .

This particular gingerbread bakes up dense and provides a sturdy base for your creation. It does not rise as much as traditional gingerbread and, because it lacks fewer eggs and no butter, it may not taste the same as other recipes you have tried. But, for strength and aroma, this recipe cannot be beat.

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar

3/4 cup molasses

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice or ground cloves

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the shortening and brown sugar. Add the molasses, salt, and spices, mixing to combine. Beat in the eggs, baking powder and baking soda, scraping the mixing bowl at least once. Stir in the flour. The dough will be quite stiff. Wrap the dough and let it rest at cool room temperature for 1 hour; this will make it easier to roll out.

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch and cut the gingerbread house pieces. Bake the gingerbread pieces for about 20 minutes, until they're stiff and dry to the touch. Remove from the oven, cool for 10 minutes on the pan, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

For comparison, see the Texas Cooking article by Dorothy Sibole, Gingerbread House and More Baubles from Your Kitchen [linked above].

There you will find a recipe for Royal Icing, together with gingerbread "House Plans", and lots of other great information.

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This is a great post. I tried making a Gingerbread house...and needless to say it crumbled. I think I needed a stronger batch of Royal Icing.

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Just use Royal Icing. It dries hard as a rock and, obviously, more for decoration and holding things together than anything else. Just make sure it doesn't dry out while you're using it. Keep it covered with a damp cloth.

Just mix these ingredients:

* 3 egg whites

* 1-1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

* 3-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

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