Skip the kit this holiday season! Making a gingerbread house from scratch is easy, fun, and will result in a dessert you'd actually want to eat too. The two crucial elements needed are 1) a delicious gingerbread recipe, and 2) a sticky frosting! You can find hundreds of great, free gingerbread house templates online - here's a collection of  20 easy ones to start with - but here's a basic, great one you can try at home today!

"Swedish Gingerbread House from Martha Stewart"

Swedish Gingerbread House

GENERAL MATERIALS NEEDED

For the intrepid Gingerbread Architect, here's a basic outline of what you'll need to begin building.

  • Your favorite Gingerbread House template.
  • A great gingerbread cookie recipe.
  • Icing for decorating and holding the pieces together.
  • Gum drop candies, powdered sugar, cinnamon sticks, and more items for decorating!

THE GINGERBREAD

Tip: make the dough 1 day ahead of assembly

Here is the template you need for this house.

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, soft
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup unsulfered molasses
  1. Sift together flour, baking soda, and spices in a large bowl.
  2. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar until it's light and fluffy. Mix in eggs and molasses.
  3. Gradually add the flour mixture and mix until combined. Divide dough into smaller groups and wrap each in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour (or overnight).
  4. When you're ready to roll out the dough, let it sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Roll out the dough on a wax paper parchment or lightly floured work surface, to about 1/8 inch thick. (It's a good idea to refrigerate the dough again for 5-10 minutes to make it easier to cut).
  6. Cut your gingerbread-house pieces out according to your chosen template. THIS is the template you need to re-create this beautiful Swedish-style Gingerbread House; cut out two additional 7 by 7 1/2 inch gingerbread rectangles to make the roof.
  7. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until crisp - about 8 to 10 minutes. When they're done, remove them from the oven, let them sit for a few minutes, and then move them to a wire rack to cool completely!

THE FROSTING

  • 2 egg whites
  • 5 cups confectioners' sugar
  1. Lightly whisk the egg whites and gradually add all of the confectioner's sugar. The icing should be smooth and stand in firm peaks.
  2. Make more icing as needed to decorate!

THE ASSEMBLY

  1. Use the frosting to "glue" all the sides of the house together, starting with the walls and moving upward to the roof and chimney. Let it sit for a bit so that the frosting can firm up.
  2. Put your frosting into a piping bag fitted with a medium, plain tip and carefully draw the detailing on the roof, around the windows and doors, et cetera.
  3. If you're using extra decorations like candy and cinnamon, just apply some frosting-glue to the back and apply it as creatively as you like!
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