For almost 20 years my family made gingerbread houses during the first weekend in December. It was a great holiday tradition and so much fun for the kids and adults alike. It was our Christmas to share with the grandkids and some nieces and nephews.
I made one house for each family (up to six one year), provided all sorts of different candy and each family brought candy (or cereal – it had to be edible) for their roof. I even provided a light for each one so you could smell the gingerbread when they turned on their house. Everyone had a super time decorating and of course eating the candy as they worked.
See my recipe Royal Icing as Glue or to Decorate Cookies.
I was always on the lookout for candy throughout the year; something different to add to our houses. The candy can be frozen and I would often save it from the previous year if at all possible.
Gingerbread House Dough
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 6 tbsp. butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 molasses
- 1 egg
- 5 cups flour (may need more)
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. ginger
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large saucepan, heat the butter in the buttermilk until it is just melted and remove from the heat. Add the brown sugar, molasses and beat in the egg. In a separate bowl, blend the dry ingredients. Add these to the wet mixture and blend in quickly with a spoon.
Do not chill the dough as it is much easier to roll after it has first been made.
Spray a cookie sheet with Pam. Roll out the dough on the cookie sheet until it is an 1/8-inch thick (use old cookie sheets) Lay some of your pattern on top and cut out the pieces with a knife. Be sure to include openings for a door and windows and cut out a chimney for the top of the roof. I also included a small opening at the bottom of the back to allow for a light to be placed inside the house. Sheet gelatin was used for the windows.
Bake large pieces for 20 to 25 minutes and smaller pieces for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Some accessories: ice cream cone trees decorated with royal icing, gingerbread boys and girls, sleds made with 2 small candy canes and a graham cracker, maple candy Santa that we painted and let dry, and lots and lots of candy!
2008 was the last year we made gingerbread houses. Only 1 family participated out of 3; our daughter and family. Rather sad as it was especially a fun thing for Gene and I to get together as a family. The six of us had a great time – thanks Sandy, Blake, Megan and Hunter. They made the cute house with the Ford truck. Gene did most of the work on our house the last year before he passed away. A special occasion for us 🙂
Front and back of my gingerbread house – I always had to decorate one too!
I even made a Halloween Gingerbread House!