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Learn how to make a beautiful gingerbread house

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There’s something so enticing about a gingerbread house. It could be that it just looks so cozy, perfect, and peaceful. Maybe it’s a childhood fantasy fulfilled. If you have a quest to create an edible utopia, here is a recipe for making a gingerbread house, along with a slideshow and instructions.

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Creating your design

Do a pen and paper drawing of what you’d like your house to look like. This will allow you to plan the shapes you need to bake.

Once you know the shapes of each wall, roof, chimney, etc., cut each piece out of cardboard -- this is your pattern. Make sure that the cardboard pieces fit together as you’d like.

Gingerbread House Recipe

Ingredients for making gingerbread for a Gingerbread House:

  • 6 cups flour
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • 2/3 cups shortening
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 8-oz. container sour cream
  • 2 eggs

Directions for making gingerbread for a Gingerbread House:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In large bowl, put 3 ½ cups of the flour and all the remaining ingredients. Beat until well mixed. Knead in the remaining 2 ½ cups of flour to make a soft dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Working with half of the batch at a time, on floured work surface and with floured hands, knead the dough until smooth. On a greased and floured cookie sheet, roll the dough until it is a uniformed thickness – so it will bake evenly. (TIP: For easier rolling, place the cookie sheet on a damp cloth to prevent it from slipping.) Using your cardboard patterns, cut the dough to fit your shapes – placing them so that you get as many as you can from one sheet of dough. Leave at least 1 inch between the pieces. Remove all scraps and reserve them for re-rolling.

Once you put the cookie house parts spaced enough apart on a baking sheet to allow for rising, put the cookie sheet in preheated 350 degree oven. Bake until golden brown and firm when lightly touched with your finger. Remove the cookie sheet and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the baked pieces and place them on rack to cool completely. (TIP: If you need to do any trimming, do it while the cookie is still warm.)

Gingerbread House Icing Recipe

Ingredients for Gingerbread House Icing:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 ½ tsp. cream of tartar
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

Directions for making Gingerbread House Icing:

In a large bowl combine all ingredients. Beat until smooth and thick. (TIP: If a knife blade drawn through the icing leaves a clean cut, it’s the correct thickness.) Icing hardens rather quickly, so it’s best to not store it too long.

If you want to color any of the icing, use gel food coloring. Better yet, get Wilton food colorings for better colors.

Assembling the Gingerbread House

Once the house parts are baked, let them cool completely. Decorate the front, back, and side walls prior to assembling. Let these parts set for at least three hours before assembling. (The icing needs time to harden so the decorations adhere to the gingerbread.)

Cover a large enough board or pan with aluminum foil. This will be the base for your house, so make sure it can hold the weight of the house.

After the walls have thoroughly dried, pipe the icing (glue) up the edge of one wall and up the edge of the wall you will stick it to, and push them together. It will take a while to set thoroughly so put your walls together and hold them in place with cans (careful not to disturb your decorations). Let this set for at least three hours before putting on the roof.

Once the rest of the house is stable, pipe the icing along the top of the house and lightly press the roof to the top of the house, and pipe icing to stick the pieces of the roof together. Hold it in place for a few minutes. Once the roof is stuck, decorate it as you’d like.

Prior to being finished, make sure that the icing is piped into any gaps, down the outside corners of the house to ensure that it’s secure.

Congratulations -- your house is now finished!!

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