Gingerbread houses are a fantastic Christmas tradition that the whole family can help make. Some of the work is fiddly, but young hands can definitely add the decorative elements. Make ahead and put it out on the table or in a decorative corner for Christmas Day.
- Collect all of the needed materials. Place in a well lit work area.
- Protect the work surfaces. Crushed candy and dripping icing are very sticky and the candy can even be abrasive. Cheap vinyl tablecloths work well, as does newspaper.
- Set out the various candies into bowls. This saves the hassle of opening bags of candy with sticky fingers later.
- Place the pie tin upside down in front of you.
- Make the royal icing. Aim for a consistency of stiff peanut butter.
- Place large spoonfuls of the royal icing into quart-size zipper style freezer bags. Avoid regular thickness sandwich bags because the plastic is too thin and won’t hold up to the punishment of being used as a pastry tube. Approximately one cup of icing per bag is sufficient.
- Close the bags.
- Snip off a 1/4 inch (6.35mm) of one corner of the icing filled bag. You now have an “icing tube”. Squeeze the icing toward the snipped corner and use it to dispense a bead of icing where you want it.
- Count out six whole, uncracked, unseparated, unbroken crackers and set four of them aside to form the roof and two long sides of your house.
- Cut the two remaining crackers to form end gable pieces. Use a gentle “sawing” motion with a serrated knife. Use the short end of a cracker to measure the angled line from the center of the long side to the center line of the cracker.
- Repeat for the second gable end.
- Squeeze icing along the edges of a gable end and 1 whole graham cracker.
- Place the long edge of the wall cracker perpendicular to the base edge of the gable end cracker. Stick the side edge of the gable end cracker to the bead of icing on the flat side of the wall cracker. The walls should hold each other up.
- Important: If the icing is too runny, this will not work. If the icing does not behave like putty at this point, you will need to either add more powdered sugar to it or just start over again and make an icing of thicker consistency.
- Add the other gable end and wall in the same manner, and use a bead of icing along the bottom to stick it to the pie tin. Also use a bead of icing where the two walls will join at the corners.
- Add the roof crackers in the same manner as the wall crackers, but pipe the icing on the flat of the roof, not on the edges. Then stick the flat of the roof to the top edges of the gable ends and walls. Allow the icing to set for 15-20 minutes before touching the house again. If you place candies on it too quickly, you risk it collapsing.
- Line the roof with icing where you want to add the shingles.
- Add the shingles using your desired candies.
- You can also use cereal as shingles.
- Use your imagination and decorate the entire house whatever way you like! Some examples:
- A roof ridge.
- A candy cane door.
- A male teenager’s house.
- An adult’s house.
- Another adult’s version.
- A six year old’s house.
- A four year old’s house.
- A small various candy house.
- At the end of the season, keep the photos of your house, and if you want, you can make a scrapbook of what you have done, then eat it! Share your photos around Facebook for others to see.
- Sprinkling powdered sugar over the house and yard makes it look like it was snowing!
- You can spray a sealant on your house to extend its life. (This prevents you from eating it too.)
- Using a small whipping cream carton and gluing the graham crackers to the sides works well for young children so the sides or roof do not cave in.
- Use cake icing nozzle to make flowers if you are looking for a spring time effect.
- Keep it out of reach of your pets or you will find them “sampling” your house. This can be especially tragic if a little person in the house has his or her creation half eaten by the family dog!
- Keep away from ants–they can be attracted to such a sweet temptation in warmer climes at this time of year.
- This will soften quickly in a humid environment, causing the walls to sag and eventually collapse within days or even hours. Don’t keep it too long if you’re in a humid environment, or find and airtight container and dry spot to store it in.
Things You’ll Need
- Unbroken graham crackers
- Christmas candies for decoration. Hard candies work best; many softer or “gummy” candies have a release oil applied to their molds which then is retained on the surface of the candy and prevents proper sticking to your creation
- Disposable aluminum pie tin
- Royal icing–see How to make royal icing for instructions
- Zipper style freezer bags – avoid the thinner plastic bags used for sandwiches. They will not hold up to being used as icing tubes as will the “freezer bags”
- How to Build a Gable Roof
- How to Make Gingerbread Men Cookies
- How to Construct a Bar out of Beverage Cans
- How to Create Paper Mache
- How to Build a Large Barbie House out of a Cabinet
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