If you have visions of lovely gingerbread houses floating like sugar plums through your head, this recipe is for you. It yields a VERY strong, very sturdy dough that will hold up well to being left out as part of Christmas decorations, and it can bear a lot of weight from candy add-ons! Read the entire directions – including our special notes – carefully before starting this recipe, for best and most accurate results.
You should know that this recipe has been created to use for decorating: the finished baked good is very hard and not sweet, so don’t expect it to taste like gingerbread men – you might chip a tooth trying to eat it if it’s been sitting out for a month! If you want tasty gingerbread – ONLY appropriate for very small houses and immediate eating – try this regular or this vegan roll out gingerbread recipe instead.
This recipe yields enough for ONE small gingerbread house – You may use any free online gingerbread house template with this recipe.. see notes below recipe for calculating yields. Full recipe under the video:
GINGERBREAD HOUSE DOUGH (one small house)
- ¼c (2 ounces or 56g) brown sugar – light or dark
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/3 c plus 1 Tbsp (4oz or 115g) molasses, light corn syrup, agave nectar, cane syrup, or maple syrup
- 3 Tbsp (1 1/2oz or 45g) butter or dairy free margarine, soft but not melted
- 1 ½ tsp (1/4oz or 7g) vanilla extract
- 1 1/3c (6 1/4oz or 175g) Better Batter Gluten Free Flour, plus more as needed and for dusting
- Jelly roll pan(s) or cookie sheet(s) 15×13
- Parchment paper
- Sharp knife
- Gingerbread template pieces
- A cardboard base or other base
- piping bag and tip for icing
- props (to hold up house while it is drying)
- heavy shallow pan for caramel, plus Electric Griddle (high, 400 degrees) or a cast iron griddle on the stove set to low heat (for caramel) (optional)
Caramel Syrup (optional)
- 2 c (9oz or 260g) granulated sugar
Royal Icing –
- ½ c (122g) liquid egg whites or Aquafaba
- 16oz (454g) Better Batter Corn Free powdered sugar, very well sifted, plus more if needed
- ½ tsp cream of tartar (if making with egg white)
Baking The Gingerbread
Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C)
Prepare your baking sheets: Cut parchment paper to fit the jelly roll pan or cookie sheet. Set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer on low speed, stir together the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, liquid sweetener of choice, butter or margarine, and vanilla extract, until smooth.
Add flour and beat until a stiff dough forms – it should be workable, like play dough or clay when a small blob is rolled between your hands. If the dough is too crumbly, you may add liquid sweetener, one tsp at a time, until a pliable dough is created. If the dough is too wet, you may add more flour, 1 tbsp at a time until a workable dough is formed. Form dough into a rough rectangle and set aside.
If you are using a jelly roll pan, remove the parchment paper to the rolling surface before proceeding to the next step. If you are using a cookie sheet (without edges) you may keep the paper on the sheet for the next step.
Place the rectangle of dough on the sheet. Sprinkle generously with flour and roll out until the dough is evenly rolled to between 1/16 and 3/16 inch thick (about the thickness of one sheet of corrugated cardboard), and nearly to the edges of the parchment. Thinner gingerbread tends to warp in baking and is far more delicate.
If you are using a jelly roll pan, transfer the dough-lined parchment back to the pan before proceeding.
Lay your template pieces out on the dough, close together (touching on the straight edges). Cut the dough with the sharp knife, along the edges of the templates – avoid warping the shape of the template when you cut the dough. Cut an additional border around the outside of about ½ inch. This will help the dough to cook evenly and help prevent spreading.
Remove all excess dough beyond the outside border and set aside – note: you can re-roll this, or thin with just 1 tsp of water at a time until a paste is reached – pipe this into details, such as brickwork, siding, railing or other shapes as you desire.
Bake the dough in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until it is dry to the touch and browned evenly. Remove from the oven and immediately cut along the lines you had previously cut – you will only have a minute or less to do this before the cookies harden. Allow to cool completely in the pan before lifting off the parchment and assembling with royal icing or caramel syrup. When assembling it is often best to use the ‘back’ of the cookie (the face-down side) to be the ‘front-facing’ side of the decorated piece, as this tends to be smoother and shinier.
Making Caramel Syrup
In a wide, shallow, heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the sugar, stirring occasionally, until it melts into a golden brown syrup. Turn the heat off and place the hot pan on the heated griddle to ‘hold’ the temperature.
assembly with caramel
Decorate sides and flat surfaces with any Royal Icing piping elements you wish (icing around windows etc) – but not candy! – and allow to dry at least 4 hours before proceeding with assembly.
Assemble the body: Working quickly dip a spoon into the syrup and use it to coat one edge – the edge you are attaching – of a piece of your gingerbread, then attach to the edge of another piece – hold 5-10 seconds to set. Continue, until all pieces have been stuck together. When all pieces have been assembled and set, you may dip the bottom of your house into the remaining syrup and glue it to your base – this will not work for large projects! Add the roof – use the spoon to smear a wide ribbon of candy on the two inner edges of the roof and lay it candy side down on the roof edge. Repeat with the other side
Beat together the powdered sugar, egg white or aquafaba, and cream of tartare on low speed until combined, then turn mixture to medium speed and beat until mixture lightens, about 8 minutes. If mixture is soupy after 8 minutes, add more sugar, a tbsp. at a time until it whips up into a thick mixture. Do not overbeat, or the mixture will crack when it dries, and your house will fall apart!
assembly with royal icing
Decorate sides and flat surfaces with any Royal Icing piping elements you wish (icing around windows etc) – but not candy or final touches! – and allow to dry at least 4 hours before proceeding with assembly.
Assemble the body – Working carefully and using plenty of props to hold up your gingerbread, apply a thick piped layer of gingerbread to the edge of one piece and stick it to the next piece of the house. Ensure that the edges are straight and clean up any drips. Allow to dry at least an hour, or up to 4 before assembling additional pieces. Repeat this process until all the sides of the house are assembled. Allow to dry completely (up to overnight) before adding additional stories or roof elements to the house. Repeat the process, once again, using plenty of props to ensure that nothing slides. Once the house is completely assembled and dried, it can be decorated as you wish.
NOTES ON YIELD ETC
Yields: This recipe yields enough for about 1 lb of dough, enough to fit nearly a 15×13 jelly roll pan, rolled to 1/16-3/16 inch thick. You may need to multiply the recipe depending on how many pans you need.
To calculate how much you need: Cut out your gingerbread template, including duplicate pieces as recommended. your templates out on the jelly roll pan (edges touching), and leaving enough space to make a ½ inch border around the outside edge. Repeat until you run out of template pieces. Multiply the number of jelly roll pans you need by the recipe, to get the final number of recipes you need.
Cutting and Scoring the lines
It is really important not to bake too many sheets at once. You will only have a minute to re-score the lines you cut, before the gingerbread becomes extremely hard and/or fragile.
Note on Gingerbread Paste structural details: once you have thinned the excess dough into paste, you may pipe it onto a separate sheet, into any shapes you wish, and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden and hard. Allow to cool and apply to the house template with royal icing or caramel syrup.
Constructing the House with Caramel Glue or Royal Icing
Caramel: Advanced bakers use caramel syrup to ‘glue’ houses together. This is faster and also gives a much better ( neater) effect for the finished house. Once you know what you’re doing, it is also far easier! HOWEVER: it can be tricky (and dangerous!) to work with. ONLY use this method if you consider yourself an advanced baker or are really pressed for time. The caramel syrup takes precise timing, and it goes hard or burns FAST if you choose the wrong ‘keeping temp’, so everything MUST be put together quickly and accurately for it to work. It is also not appropriate for humid climates as it WILL absorb ambient moisture and ‘melt’ over the course of several days. I would recommend making all of your gingerbread at least day ahead of time and carefully planning your assembly order. ESPECIALLY If you are making kits for children, PLEASE assemble the houses before they arrive to decorate.
- WARNING!!! If you drip syrup on yourself – you WILL be badly burned . Keep first aid supplies nearby and ice water.
Royal Icing: Royal Icing is great for both construction and decoration, and it is very safe, but you will want to keep in mind that it takes roughly 2-12 hours for the icing to dry and stabilize. So you will need between 1 day and 5 to properly construct a house, if you are using this as construction material. This mixture dries ultra fast, so make it in small batches and leave tightly covered – Shelf stable for up to 12 hours if tightly covered. Place into a bag fitted with a piping (decorator) tip before using. Also note: I find it best to put the details onto the house BEFORE constructing in most cases, and letting them dry, but you can pipe directly onto a finished house if you wish. If you plan on eating the finished houses, please use pasteurized liquid egg white or aquafaba. I would recommend making all of your gingerbread at least a week ahead of time and carefully planning your assembly order, allowing PLENTY of time for each piece to dry. ESPECIALLY If you are making kits for children, PLEASE assemble the houses before they arrive to decorate.