Hey Everyone! I hope you are all having a great December and holiday season so far; it’s hard to believe that Christmas is less than two weeks away now! So little time, still so much to do… I don’t know about you, but I feel like time just goes faster and faster every year! I wanted to share one of my favorite Christmas traditions with you today, which is my gingerbread house! I’ve made one almost every year for the past couple of years (I shared this one and this one on the blog) and so I wanted to stop by and show you this year’s! My gingerbread house seems to get progressively more complicated every year, which means the process seems to get progressively more stressful every year… because there is seriously nothing more frustrating than something you’ve worked on for hours collapsing into a big sticky mess! This house would never pass a home inspection (ha!) but fingers crossed it’ll make it till Christmas! I had this vision of a New England-cottage-looking house in my mind, and this is how it turned out! Let me tell you a little more about how I made it, and some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way…
I always start out with a picture in my head of what I want my gingerbread house to look like… I’ve never really followed a picture or an example, but there are so many out there that you can use for guidance and inspiration! I drew a couple rough sketches of what I wanted to make, and then made templates out of card stock (*Tip: save those templates for next year! It’ll save you time if you want to make a similar looking house again). The process of making a gingerbread house can be pretty time consuming, so one of my favorite shortcuts is to use a store-bought gingerbread cookie mix. I almost always make everything from scratch, but for the sake of time, I always use a mix for this dough! (I used one package of gingerbread cookie dough mix for this house.) I roll out the dough pretty thin, then lay the templates on top and carefully cut around them, then transfer them onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Baking time will vary for the different pieces (longer for larger pieces, shorter for the smaller ones), so just watch your oven!
Make sure all the pieces are completely cooled before you start, you could even bake everything off the night before. I’ve played around with different icing recipes, but this year I used this one, with just a slight alteration – I didn’t use quite as much sugar. This is another thing that you just need to play around with. Add the sugar in portions, adding just enough to make the icing thick enough so it’s not runny anymore, but not too thick where it won’t go through a piping bag. My biggest tip is definitely to decorate each face and piece of the gingerbread house BEFORE putting it together! It is so much easier to have the pieces laying on a flat surface than trying to do it once it’s all put together! I like to cut the tip of the piping bag as little as possible so I can get really thin lines, it just makes everything look cleaner.
Once you’ve decorated all the sides, the fun part begins… trying to put everything together! This is honestly the part when I tell myself I will never make one of these ever again, because trying to get all the parts to stick together can be a serious nightmare! This is why you need your icing to be pretty thick, so it can act as the glue and it doesn’t run all over the place. Build the four walls first – it’s a good idea to have heavy things like cans or bottles on hand to secure the walls until the icing dries. Next, add the roof and any other pieces on top. It’s probably a good idea to build the house on whatever surface you’ll be displaying it on, so you don’t risk it falling apart when you move it, but if you do move it, just make sure all the icing has set and dried completely. I carefully moved mine onto a white cake stand that I lined with some fresh greens for a clean & simple look. And that’s pretty much all there is to it! I hope you have fun making your gingerbread house if you make one, and enjoy all your Christmas traditions that make the holiday season so special! Thanks so much for stopping by today, have a wonderful week!