How to Make a Classic Gingerbread House
It's not as hard as you may think to be a gingerbread architect. Just follow these step-by-step instructions to build a magical holiday creation.
- Gather a ruler, pencil and paper. (Cardboard from a cereal box works well, too.)
- Roll out gingerbread dough to a thickness of 1/2 inch.
- Spread your frosting “mortar” thickly along the short edges of the walls.
- Make a pattern for the long walls: draw and cut out two rectangles - 10 inches long by 5 inches high.
- Stand them up on a tray and join them together to make a box with an open top; let dry for about an hour.
- Use the pattern pieces you've just made to cut out four walls (two long, two short), two roof pieces, and two of each of the chimney pieces (four total).
- Cut out the door and windows on the long walls.
- Draw a door and windows on one of the long walls: measuring from either side, draw vertical lines at 1 1/2, 2 1/2, 4, 6, 7 1/2 and 8 1/2 inches. Measure 3 inches up from the bottom at the 4- and 6-inch lines and connect these with a horizontal line - this is your door. Measure 2 and 3 inches up from the bottom on the other lines and connect at these points with horizontal lines to create two square windows on either side of your door. Cut out the door and windows.
- Spread frosting thickly along the top edge of the walls, all the way around, and on the long edge of one of the roof pieces. (You can use soup cans to prop the walls up while they dry.)
- Keep the door-shaped piece to be baked along with the wall and roof and chimney pieces. Trim 1/8 inch off the door piece, all the way around.
- Make windows on the other long wall: measuring from either side, draw vertical lines at 2, 3, 7 and 8 inches. Measure and draw horizontal connecting lines 2 and 3 inches up from the bottom to create two more windows. Cut out the squares.
- Place the roof pieces on the roof, pushing them together firmly so that they meet solidly at the roofline. Prop them with something solid (like cookbooks) to hold them so that they don't slide down the roof as they dry. (They should be reasonably solid in about an hour.)
- Cut out the windows in the short walls.
- Make a pattern for the short walls: draw a rectangle - 6 inches wide by 5 inches high. Situating your pattern in front of you so that the rectangle is horizontal, find the center point along the top of the rectangle (the 3-inch mark), and measure and mark a point 2 inches above the top of the rectangle. Draw lines from this point to the top corners of the rectangle - this is your roofline. (Essentially, you're adding a triangle sitting on top of the rectangle.) Cut out this shape in one piece.
- Use frosting to prop the door at an inviting angle while the roof dries.
- Make a window: measure and draw vertical lines at the 2- and 4-inch marks; measure and draw horizontal connecting lines 2 and 3 inches up from the bottom. Cut out the window.
- Spread frosting along the inside of both the cut-out triangles and along the side edges of all four chimney pieces.
- Build your chimney on the roofline, about 1/3 of the way in from the side of the house. You can't prop anything on the roof (it's not strong enough) so have something ready - a piece of plastic wrap or a clean strip of rag or cheesecloth - to wrap around the chimney to hold it steady while it dries.
- Make a pattern for the roof: draw and cut out a rectangle - 4 1/2 inches by 11 inches.
- Decorate your house with candy, using the frosting to secure it: frame windows and the door, edge the roof and the foundation - the sky's the limit here.
- Make a pattern for the chimney: draw and cut out two squares, each 2 inches by 2 inches. Put one of these aside. Find the center of the other square and measure and mark a point 1/2 inch toward one of the sides. Draw lines from this point to two adjacent corners. (You're essentially taking a triangle-shaped bite out of one of the sides; this is so it will straddle the roofline). Cut out the triangle.
- Drip some frosting from the eaves to suggest icicles; dust with powdered sugar for snow.