Natural gingerbread house kit

How To Make a Gingerbread House

Coming along way from the German folklore, Hansel and Gretel, making gingerbread treats for the household during the holiday is a popular tradition. In the U.S and many parts of Europe, families dedicate a day to creating unique and personalized gingerbread houses to get into the Christmas spirit. It’s a fun family activity which many kids enjoy. When thinking about making a gingerbread house, there are many options, such as either making it from a pre-made gingerbread house kit or from scratch. In this article, we will walk you throw the steps of making a gingerbread house from both. Before we get into the directions, here are some things to consider before creating your gingerbread house.

Jump to any section:

  • How long before Christmas should I make my gingerbread house?
  • Should i make my gingerbread house from a kit or from scratch?
  • Difference between gingerbread kits and scratch
  • What you will need to make your house from kit?
  • Steps: How to make a gingerbread house from a kit

How long before Christmas should I make my gingerbread house?

You can make your gingerbread house about 2 to 3 weeks before Christmas. A gingerbread house kit tends to keep fresh and safe to eat for 2 to 3 weeks. Making the gingerbread house from scratch, the you can make a gingerbread house about 4 weeks before Christmas and it still will be fresh and safe to eat. If you want to extend the lifespan of your house, consider freezing it.

Should I make a gingerbread house from a kit or from scratch?

Deciding to build your gingerbread house from a kit vs scratch is a night and day process. Depending on how much time you have and the individual who are making the houses with you, one creation process may be better suited for you and your party. Below are the pros and cons of building a gingerbread house from a kit vs from scratch

The Difference Gingerbread House Kits vs Making from Scratch

Making a gingerbread house from a kit is simply faster and cleaner. You do not have to worry about buying all the ingredients, making the royal icing and baking the gingerbread from scratch. This saves significant assembly time, money for all the needed ingredients and clean up time. On average, making a gingerbread house from a kit usually takes about 1-2 hours with minimal cleanup efforts, which makes it a short and sweet activity compared to making it from scratch.

Making a gingerbread house from scratch however, can be a multi-day process. You will need to purchase many ingredients beforehand. The prepping, baking, decorating and clean up can make this activity last up to 3-4 hours depending on how many individuals are making houses.

One of the downsides of making a gingerbread house from a kit is that you lose potential quality bonding time with you and your kids, family or friends when compared to creating everything from scratch. Also, you lose the personalization aspect since most kits have the same look and decorations. We would recommend consider who is making the gingerbread house for the appropriate decision on building it from scratch or from a kit.

If you have children who are a bit younger and are just looking forward the decorating aspect of building a gingerbread house, we would recommend purchasing a kit. There are many kits that will suite the appropriate age levels and vary sizes such as small, medium and large gingerbread houses. If you are making It with older friends and family, creating the house from scratch while eating and drinking can make it a very fun and relaxing activity. Maybe include the children after all the baking has been included.

What you will need to create a gingerbread house from a kit

While kits have almost everything you need to create an easy to assemble and cute decoration. There is a good chance that you may need to purchase additional ingredients.

Here is what you need:

  • Gingerbread House kits
  • Additional Candy such as M&Ms, peppermints and candy canes
  • Additional Royal icing
  • A base for your gingerbread house
  • And additional decorations such as fake snow, Christmas trees and lights.

How to make a gingerbread house from a kit.

A gingerbread house kit will give you basic instructions on how to assemble your gingerbread house.

All depending if the kit is pre-assembled or not, these steps may vary. For some kits, they do not give enough icing or candy. We found the main issue with some kits is that there wasn’t enough icing. To make your own royal icing from scratch, please review our section here:

The steps below are for a gingerbread house that comes “un-assembled.”

Directions on how to make a gingerbread house:

  1. Take out all the needed materials – you need the kit, candy, icing, a base for the house and additional decorations. Make sure you chose an area that has enough space for all of these

2.Read the kit directions that come with the kit – While its very straight forward on how to build a gingerbread house, some of the kits may have some minor details and tips such as knowing how long to hold the gingerbread pieces together while constructing the house.

3. Find some gingerbread house inspiration and ideas – Before making and decorating your gingerbread house, find some fun and easy gingerbread decorating ideas. This will give you an vision to work towards. Having an idea before you start decorating on the fly is a sure way to come out with beautiful looking gingerbread house.

4. Start decorating the pre-made gingerbread pieces. While it may seem natural to want to decorate after the house has been constructed, we have found that decorating all the pieces at a flat angle vs being constructed is way easier and leads to a more polished and clean design. If you are working with kids, either way is fine; as long as they have fun. Follow your design or begin to free hand your work.

5. Start building your house by icing the sides of the pre-made gingerbread. Start with the base of the house, frost the edges and place and hold the wall pieces for 45+ seconds to make sure the piece sticks. The pre-made royal icing will get hard and hold the piece together. Do this step for all four walls. Once the walls have solidified, add your icing to the roof portion of your house. Hold the pieces down for 45+ second (gently) and wait for them to hard.

6. Let the gingerbread house fully dry and harden. After you assemble and decorate your house, we highly recommend waiting about 30-45mins after to ensure the house is ready for transportation.

7. Add your additional décor and make it a centerpiece. After the gingerbread house has dried. Add fake snow, Christmas trees, lights and other Christmas décor to make it standout. Then place it on a dinner table or on the mantle as a Christmas centerpiece everyone can enjoy.

In the next week, we will add instructions to this blog post on how to make a gingerbread house from scratch.

Gingerbread House

  1. Gingerbread House: In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and baking soda together until the mixture is smooth. Blend in the flour and water to make a stiff dough. Chill at least 30 minutes or until firm.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. Cut out the following paper patterns for the gingerbread house template: Two rectangles, 3 by 5 inches, to make the front and back of the house. Two rectangles, 3 by 5 1/2 inches for the roof. Two pieces for the ends of the house, 3 inches wide at the base, 3 inches to the roof line, and slanted to a peak 5 1/2 inches from the bottom. Four smaller rectangles, 1 1/2 by 1 inch for the roof and sides of the entryway. And one piece, 2 inches wide at the base, 1 1/2 inches to the roof line, and slanted to a peak 2 1/2 inches from the bottom for the front of the entryway.
  4. Roll gingerbread dough out to edges on a large, rimless cookie sheet. Place paper patterns onto the rolled out dough. With a sharp, straight edged knife, cut around each of the pieces, but leave pieces in place.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 15 minutes until dough feels firm.
  6. Place patterns on top of the gingerbread again and trim shapes, cutting edges with a straight-edged sharp knife. Leave to cool on baking sheet.
  7. Place royal icing into pastry bag with a writing tip and press out to decorate individual parts of house, piping on decorations, windows, door, etc., as desired. Let dry until hardened.
  8. Glue sides, front and back of house together at corners using royal icing. Place an object against the pieces to prop up until icing is dry (it only takes a few minutes).
  9. Glue the two roof pieces to the pitched roofline of the house. Then, similarly, glue the sides and roof of the entryway together with icing. Attach the entryway to the front of the house.
  10. Continue decorating the house, gluing on gumdrops, licorice and peppermint, as desired.

Royal Icing:

  1. Mix all of the ingredients together using an electric hand mixer, until the icing is smooth and thin enough to be pressed through a pastry bag with a writing tip. Add more lemon juice, if necessary.

We put four different build-your-own gingerbread house kits to the test. Here’s how they fared.

As the Brothers Grimm fairytale about Hansel and Gretel gained popularity in the early 1800s so did the idea of building gingerbread houses. The German tradition was then brought to America by German immigrants at the end of the 19th century and has become a significant part of Christmas celebrations ever since.

If you’re not confident at building a gingerbread house from scratch, there are several do-it-yourself kits available. We sent our Editorial Assistant Karlina Valeiko on a mission to test out four different supermarket gingerbread house kits from bake to build.

Waitrose, £6.25


Waitrose

What’s in the kit? Dry gingerbread mix, golden syrup, ready-made icing in a piping bag, chocolate buttons, white chocolate for melting, a backdrop and stencils for the shapes needed to build the house. You just need to add butter.

What’s great about it? The gingerbread dough took minutes to make – all I had to do was combine the dry gingerbread mix with golden syrup and melted butter. The house itself was easy to put together as the gingerbread kept its shape well while baking. I liked the idea of using chocolate coins to decorate, as they’re not too heavy for the icing to hold. There’s enough dough to cut out the shapes for the house with just scraps are left over.

What could be improved? The dough was quite soft and sticky when I rolled it the first time so I had to use quite a lot of flour for dusting and be very gentle with my rolling pin. The instructions suggest baking the gingerbread for 10 minutes, however, I found that my gingerbread was too soft. I left it in the oven for an extra minute, and hoped it would harden up once cooled, but it was still quite soft after a few hours.

What does it taste like? The flavour of the gingerbread was really nice and not overpoweringly peppery. It stayed crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle for a couple of days. If the dough was rolled thinner, the gingerbread would taste like Scandinavian ginger thins.

Final verdict: The gingerbread is delicious and you don’t need to spend a lot of money on additional decorations or ingredients. I wouldn’t use the icing provided as it’s soft and melts too quickly; you’d be better off making royal icing yourself as it hardens a lot faster.

Karlina Valeiko

Lidl, £4.99


Lidl

What’s in the kit? Pre-baked gingerbread shapes, jelly sweets and Christmas tree, Santa Claus and snowman figurines made from icing. You need to make your own icing to stick the house together and add decorations.

What’s great about it? The gingerbread was ready-made and there were plenty of decorations to let your creativity loose. The figurines are adorable and turned out to be my favourite part of the kit. The idea of having a gingerbread base to build the house on is also really smart.

What could be improved? All the gingerbread shapes in my kit were bent and I couldn’t straighten them, even after warming them in the oven. Some of the decorations were on the heavy side, and as my kitchen was quite warm the icing kept melting. This was the only house that didn’t hold its shape and fell over just after I had finished taking photos.

What does it taste like? The gingerbread was quite thick and had a biscuit-like texture: hard on the outside yet soft and sticky on the inside. Although it didn’t really taste of gingerbread, it was still pleasant to eat.

Final verdict: I loved the inclusion of a base and several different decorations, but the bent pre-baked shapes meant the structure didn’t stay together.

Karlina Valeiko

Sainsbury’s, £3


Sainsbury’s

What’s in the kit? A dry gingerbread mix, ready-made icing in a piping bag, jelly beans, sprinkles and stencils for the shapes you’ll need to bake. You’ll have to add butter and golden syrup.

What’s great about it? It was easy to put together and the design wasn’t overcomplicated. The gingerbread mix was easy to make and, after the house shapes were cut out, there was still enough dough to make 15–20 individual gingerbread cookies. Once baked, the gingerbread came out firm, held its shape perfectly and filled my kitchen with the most amazing gingerbread aroma.

What could be improved? The dough was crumbly and after it was rolled out once, it was quite hard to gather back together and roll again without breaking. While I baked the gingerbread for 13 minutes, following the instructions, corners of the larger pieces got a little burnt. The icing bag was handy and easy to use, although the icing melted too easily and wasn’t strong enough to hold the jelly beans in place.

What does it taste like? The gingerbread itself had a lovely texture and a satisfying crunch. Even though some parts were slightly burned, it still tasted delicious.

Final verdict: A really simple and easy-to-use kit. As with the Waitrose kit, I’d suggest swapping the icing provided for royal icing.

Karlina Valeiko

Our favourite: IKEA, £2.95

IKEA

What’s in the kit? Pre-baked shapes for the house. You’ll have to make your own icing, ideally royal icing, for which you’ll need egg whites, lemon juice and icing sugar.

What’s great about it? The instructions were very straightforward and it was immediately clear how the house has to be put together. The pre-baked gingerbread has handy imprints along the roof and on the outside of the windows and doors, showing you were to pipe. If I had a smaller nozzle for my piping bag, it would’ve turned out perfectly.

What could be improved? As is usually the case with IKEA, the design is very minimalistic. You might want to add some extra decorations or different food colourings to your icing for a more flamboyant look.

What does it taste like? The gingerbread had a lovely flavour and a great texture with the right ‘snap’ when broken in two. I could easily taste the sharpness and pepperiness of the ginger as well as the warming sweetness of the golden syrup.

Final verdict: Perfect if you want a fuss-free gingerbread house (although there’s nothing fuss-free about icing). Make it even more festive by placing a lit tealight inside.

Karlina Valeiko

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