December 24, 2016

Make Your Own Gingerbread House | Day 1 自製薑餅屋

Gingerbread House, guide, hansel and gretel, homemade, how to make, recipe, step by step, 自製, 薑餅屋,
By Published: 2016-12-24
My favorite time of the year, Christmas season, is near to hand and, inspired by that age old Brothers Grimm fairy tale, we made a Hansel and Gretel themed Gingerbread House!!  Do you remember the part in the original tale where the brother and sister, abandoned in the woods and very hungry, find a life sized gingerbread house:

"On they walked and walked, til suddenly they came upon a strange cottage in the middle of a glade.

     'This is chocolate!' gasped Hansel as he broke a lump of plaster from the wall.

     'And this is icing!' exclaimed Gretel, putting another piece of wall in her mouth.  Starving but delighted, the children began to eat pieces of candy broken off the cottage." 

~Hansel and Gretel from Grimm's Fairy Tales, 1812

Hansel and Gretel illustration by Ludwig Richter, 19th century

As a kid I was so fascinated by that wonderful cottage in the woods completely made of candy that I wanted to live there!  Can you imagine?  Both shelter and food sweetly and surely taken care of!  Without that evil old witch, of course.  So now all these years later I'm finally sorta fulfilling that fantasy by making our own Hansel and Gretel Gingerbread House...

Making this gingerbread house was longish.  Three days!  You have to wait for the icing the dry all the way to make a house that will stand up.  But it was really fun!  For both me and my little girl.  She was so crazy happy and excited with this little project (and a bit sugar high as well, kept sneaking the candies into her mouth!  Okay, okay, so did I.)  The recipe we used makes moist, slightly sticky gingerbread dough that is easy to roll out and more importantly keeps it shape well when baked and doesn't break easily.  A big additional plus is the gorgeously warm spicy flavor of the cookies that bake from this dough.  I never used to like gingerbread cookies but I think this dough has got me liking gingerbread for good!  

Oh what fun it was...the warm scent of gingery spices filling the house, colorful bowls of candies spilling over, snowy billows of frosting, it was a crazy candy of a happy holiday mess!

Gingerbread House, guide, hansel and gretel, homemade, how to make, recipe, step by step, 自製, 薑餅屋,
Handel and Gretel inside their gingerbread house!
In the spirit of it all we even decided to go a step further and do up the inside of the gingerbread house as well!  Here are little Hansel and Gretel inside their gingerbread house, having cookies and milk.  It was easy to bake little gingerbread tables and chairs, add in Hansel and Gretel (see our Christmas Sugar Cookies recipe here or make Hansel and Gretel from your leftover gingerbread dough from the house) and then borrow some items from my little girl's doll house collection to finish up the scene.  SO MUCH FUN!!  And so cute, amiright!?  The only thing that we didn't have time to do was to add interior lights to the house which we definitely will do next time.

So here are our step by step instructions to make and decorate your own gingerbread house, with a link to download our gingerbread house templates!  You'll need 3 days, with a bit of time each day for working on the house and time in between to let everything dry.

(Excuse for the length of the post, it just got longer and longer with all the details and important points I thought needed to be included so I've split it into three posts, one section for each day of making.  Hope you enjoy reading it and Merry Xmas! ~ellen)

Make Your Own Gingerbread House   自製薑餅屋
Step by Step Instructions  

Day 1:

Make your gingerbread dough, cut out according to template and bake it.
Gingerbread Dough Recipe
(makes one small 8" tall house, adapted from the epicurious recipe here)
Prep time: Cook time:


2 1/4 cup  flour, 281g
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger 
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup shortening (102g) or butter (113g)
1/2 cup sugar, 100g
1 egg
1/4 maple syrup or golden syrup, 80g
1 roll parchment paper


Sift flour with ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, cardamom.  In separate bowl beat shotening or butter until fluffy, then add sugar and beat in.  Add egg and beat in.  Add maple syrup and beat in.  Now add the 1/4 of the dry ingredients into butter mixture and beat until combined.  Repeat until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.  Knead a few times until a dough is formed.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate approx. 5 hours until dough is hard enough to roll out.

Gingerbread House, guide, hansel and gretel, homemade, how to make, recipe, step by step, 自製, 薑餅屋,
Our gingerbread house templates are cut out
I had already designed our little gingerbread house to scale (everything has to match up just right!) and drawn it out on a couple sheets of paper (to download our gingerbread house templates, click here for Template I and Template II.)  Print out and carefully cut the template shapes out.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (175ºC).

Prepare some sheets of parchment paper a bit larger than A4 size (I used around 10 sheets or so).  Roll out a A4 sized piece of dough to 1/4" thickness between two pieces of parchment paper, one below and one on top.  Or you could roll out 1/4" thickness to the size of your baking sheet, just be sure to have parchment paper completely covering both top and bottom of your rolled out dough.

Gingerbread House, guide, hansel and gretel, homemade, how to make, recipe, step by step, 自製, 薑餅屋,
Paper template used to cut out shapes
Place gingerbread house paper templates on top of the parchment covered rolled out dough, leaving 1/2" spacing between shapes. Carefully use a sharp knife to cut out the gingerbread house shapes according to the paper templates.  Important!  Don't move the shapes after you cut.  You want to end up with sharp clean cut shapes that make for better, sturdier fitted gingerbread houses.

Gingerbread House, guide, hansel and gretel, homemade, how to make, recipe, step by step, 自製, 薑餅屋,
Peeling off the top parchment paper

Remove paper template shapes and peel away the excess dough and top parchment paper, leaving the bottom parchment paper in place.  At this point use very small cookie cutters to cut out additional shapes for windows if desired, carefully removing the excess dough with the tip of your knife.  Use a butter knife to lightly impress horizontal detail lines onto your window shutters.  Carefully lift the bottom parchment (it should still be in one piece) and place on to baking sheet.

Gingerbread House, guide, hansel and gretel, homemade, how to make, recipe, step by step, 自製, 薑餅屋,
Gingerbread cutouts ready for oven

Don't forget to make a cookie base for your house to sit on, we cut out an 8.5 x 12" sized gingerbread cookie base which was big enough to put our house and have a bit of yard in front and all around.  (Or if you like you can use a cutting board or something similar for the gingerbread house to sit on.)

Send all the bits and pieces off to the oven to bake for 13 mins at 350ºF (175ºC) or until the gingerbread is just darkened at the edges.  Remove and let cool completely overnight.

Tip:  Re-roll the rest of the excess dough and use to cut out shapes for furniture or use a cookie cutter to press out gingerbread girls and boysxmas trees, etc.

Gingerbread House, guide, hansel and gretel, homemade, how to make, recipe, step by step, 自製, 薑餅屋,
Gingerbread walls are finished baking
Here are the baked walls for our little gingerbread house.  Ummm...the wonderfully warm aromas that arose during the bake!

See the rest of our step by step 3 day guide to Making Your Own Gingerbread House:

Make Your Own Gingerbread House | Day 2 - Constructing your Gingerbread House

Make Your Own Gingerbread House | Day 3 - Decorating your Gingerbread House

More Christmas Comforts at The Hong Kong Cookery:



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