"Easy gingerbread house" may sound like an oxymoron, but our step-by-step guide turns this daunting holiday project into a cakewalk.
Step 1: Prepare the dough Make a double batch of gingerbread dough, seal it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
Step 2: Make a model house Design a house by cutting out pieces of poster board or cardboard for the walls, roof, and chimney. Don’t forget to cut windows and a door in some pieces.
Step 3: Preheat oven Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Step 4: Shape the dough On a large piece of wax paper, roll out the dough to a quarter-inch thickness. Lightly dust the dough with flour to keep it from sticking to your rolling pin.
Step 5: Cut the dough Use your cardboard cutouts as guides to cut the dough into parts.
TIP: Bake extra pieces in case a few break during assembly.
Step 6: Bake the shapes Grease cookie sheets and carefully transfer the shapes to them, spaced one inch apart. Bake them for 6 to 15 minutes, depending on the size. The cookies are done when the edges begin to darken.
Step 7: Trim the pieces Trim the pieces as necessary while the cookies are still warm, and then let them cool overnight.
Step 8: Make royal icing Spread royal icing on a foamcore base, which you can find at craft stores. Cover the remaining icing with a damp cloth to keep it from hardening.
Step 9: Assemble the walls Fill a pastry bag with icing and begin assembling the walls by piping icing liberally along the sides of two pieces and then holding them together until the icing is completely dry. Let the walls stand for at least an hour before you put on the roof.
TIP: To help hold the gingerbread pieces in place, use clean canned goods to prop them up.
Step 10: Put on the roof Angle the cookies that make the roof so that about an inch hangs over the walls, then put on your chimney. When the house is fully assembled, let it sit at least eight hours before decorating it.
Step 11: Decorate your house Time for the fun part – decorating! Use a variety of your favorite candies – and your imagination – to turn your basic house into a sweet dream home.
FACT: The world’s largest gingerbread house, built in Minnesota’s Mall of America in 2006, was made of nearly 15,000 pounds of gingerbread.