Gingerbread houses are an annual holiday tradition with my children. Baking the gingerbread makes the house smell like Christmas, and there is nothing more fun than decorating with frosting and candy.
Every year, we imagine what it would be like to live in such a delicious, cozy home. We have always made houses that look like Hänsel and Gretel could have wandered into them, but this year, in honor of Alpine Modern, we made one that Don Draper might have rented for a ski weekend.
Recipe: Gingerbread House
Makes 1 house
(Based on a recipe by the Food Network)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp water
1 lb (4 cups) powdered sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
3 egg whites
Gumdrops, Lifesavers, Licorice, Dots, Mike and Ikes, and Candy Canes work really well. (Candies with a coating, such as M&Ms or Skittles, usually leak into the frosting and don’t look as pretty.)
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and baking soda, until the mixture is smooth. (A stand mixer comes in very handy here.)
Blend in flour and water to make a stiff dough. Chill at least 30 minutes or until firm. (I often make the dough a day or two ahead, wrap it in foil and keep it in the freezer, until I am ready to bake it.)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Use graph paper and cut out the following paper patterns for the gingerbread house:
Front and Back
Left side: 4 1/4” or 22 graph squares
Right side: 3 1/2” or 18 graph squares
Bottom: 7” or 36 graph squares
Top: use a ruler to draw a line slanting down from the top of the left side to the top of right side
Door: 1 1/2” or 8 graph squares wide, 2” or 13 graph squares tall
Door location: 7 graph squares from the L side
Window: 1 3/4” or 9 graph squares wide, 1 1/4” or 6 graph squares tall
Window location: 7 graph squares from the L of the door, at the same height as the door
(Only cut out the door and window for the front side of the house.)
3 1/2” or 18 graph squares by 4 1/4” or 22 graph squares
6 1/2” or 33 graph squares by 11 1/2” or 58 graph squares
Roll out the gingerbread dough to a little thicker than 1/4”. Place patterns on top of dough and cut out with a large, sharp edged knife. Cut two “Front and Back” pieces, 2 sides and 1 roof.
Bake at 375 degrees F for about 12 minutes. Leave house pieces on the baking sheet for ten minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. Do not try to assemble the house until the house pieces are completely cool to the touch.
Mix all three ingredients for the frosting in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Continue mixing until the frosting is quite stiff.
Glue sides, front, and back of the house together, directly onto a rectangular plate. The side piece on the left should be in a portrait position, and the side piece on the right should be in a landscape position. Be generous with the icing on the inside of the house. I usually place a large scoop into each corner and up the inside seams to bolster the construction. Let the frosting harden completely.
Decorate the frame of the door and window with frosting and candy before adding the roof. Frost the top edges of the house and the underside of the roof. Again, be generous with the amount of frosting on the underside of the roof so that it will attach firmly to the house. Let the frosting completely harden.
Frost the top of the roof and decorate with candies. Add the candy cane pillars last, when all of the frosting is hardened and the house is structurally sound.