How to Make a Gingerbread House

Follow these simple steps to build your own gingerbread house — decorated however you'd like and filled with gingerbread boys and girls.

Photo By: Rachel Allen ©2012 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Rachel Allen ©2012 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Rachel Allen ©2012 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Rachel Allen ©2012 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Rachel Allen ©2012 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Rachel Allen ©2012 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Gingerbread House...and People!

Why make an empty ol' gingerbread house when you can fill it with a whole gingerbread family and decorate it to the nines?

Follow these instructions to build your own gingerbread village. For the ingredient list, go to the Gingerbread House and People recipe.

Make the Gingerbread House Pieces

First Make Templates in Paper According to the Following Dimensions:
2 front and back pieces: 5 by 7 inches
2 roof pieces: 3 by 7 inches
2 side pieces: 6 by 6 inches
(These are handy not just for now but also for when the dough is cooked and you need to trim the walls and roof, to ensure all the edges are straight.) Follow the instructions according to the recipe for preparing the gingerbread dough.

Place a sheet of parchment paper on your work surface; dust with flour and roll out about one-fourth of the dough to 1/4-inch thick. Place one of the paper templates on the dough and cut around it with a sharp knife, then slide the dough, still on its parchment paper, onto a baking tray. Repeat with the remaining dough, re-rolling the trimmings, until you have a front and back wall, 2 side walls and 2 roof panels. Re-roll any leftover dough to make into Christmas trees or boys and girls (there should be enough for 6 to 8). Carefully trim the excess paper from around each piece on the baking trays.

Bake all the sections in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until slightly firmed and just a little darker at the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for a few minutes on the baking trays to firm up. One by one, lift the pieces, still on the paper, and trim around the template to give clean, sharp edges. To make an open door for the house, cut a rectangle out of the front wall and cut out windows, if you wish. Place on a wire rack for a few minutes, then turn over and peel off the trimmed paper. Leave all the pieces to cool completely.

Meanwhile, prepare a board for the house to sit on, such as a large wooden chopping board (that can be covered with tin foil, if you choose).

Make the Boys and Girls, and Begin Assembling the House

To Make the Gingerbread Boys and Girls:
Remove the dough from the refrigerator, dust the work surface with flour and roll our all of the dough to about 1/4 inch. Cut out the girl and boy shapes using boy/girl cutters, transfer onto the baking trays and cook in the oven for 12 minutes, until they are slightly firm, a little darker at the edges and slightly drier on top. Allow the shapes to firm up for a few minutes, then place them on a wire rack to cool. When they have cooled, they can be iced, if you wish.

To Make the Icing 'Glue' for the House: Place the egg whites in a large bowl, sift in the confectioners' sugar, then stir to make a thick, smooth icing. Spoon into a piping bag with a small star-shaped nozzle.

Begin Assembling the House: Pipe generous lengths of icing along the vertical wall edges, one by one, to join the walls together. Using a bowl or some other object or objects to support the walls from the inside, hold the walls gently in place with your hands until the icing is dry. Leave the roofless house to dry for at least 30 minutes until the icing is firmly set.

Once dry, remove the supports and pipe a thick line of icing along one long side of a roof piece and along the top edge of all the walls. Stick the two roof sections together at an angle and set the two pieces on top of the house. You can arrange the roof so that there is a slight overhang on either side of the house. Hold the roof gently in place for a few minutes until it dries, then leave it to dry for a further 30 minutes.

Complete the House

While the roof is drying, attach the door to the doorway — so that it looks slightly ajar — by running a line of icing glue down one side and along the base. Stick a small piece of a Flake bar (or another rectangle-shaped chocolate bar) onto the roof as a chimney.

Have Fun Decorating

Using the icing as glue, pipe around the windows, and stick sweets around the door and on the front of the house. To make snow on the roof and icicles hanging from it, start with the nozzle at a 90-degree angle to the roof and squeeze out a pea-size blob of icing. Keeping the pressure on, pull the nozzle down and then pull away, leaving a pointy trail of icing. Repeat all around the edge of the roof. Using the icing as glue, stick milk chocolate and sugared buttons onto the roof for the tiles.

Complete the Look

Ice the Gingerbread Boys and Girls:
Sift the icing sugar (confectioners') into a bowl and add the water. Beat until the icing comes together, adding a little more water, if necessary. (Cook's Note: Be careful not to add too much water or the icing will be too runny.)

Using a small palette knife or the back of a spoon dipped into boiling water (to make the icing easier to spread), spread the icing over the cooled gingerbread boys and girls. If you wish to pipe on the details, such as faces and hair, spoon the icing into a small piping bag with just the smallest corner cut off. While the icing is still slightly 'unset' on the biscuits, arrange the silver balls or whatever decorations you are using, then set aside for the icing to set.

Once the icing has dried, glue the gingerbread trees or boys and girls around the house, then scatter the board with sugar strands.

Cook's Note! The gingerbread house will stay fresh for a week, although, after all the work putting it together and icing it, the temptation is to keep it for the few weeks over Christmas, by which time it will be quite stale and not as delicious — so don't let your delicious village sit for too long.