Construction Gingerbread for Gingerbread Houses

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Hands-on time:
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Yield: enough dough for a 10" x 7" house (approx.), plus decorations

Recipe photo

Dough for gingerbread construction projects is perfectly edible; it just has more flour in it to make it sturdier than gingerbread cookie dough would have. It's simple to put together, and can be used for gingerbread men, trees, and other decorations, as well as for the house itself.

Construction Gingerbread for Gingerbread Houses

star rating (10) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: enough dough for a 10" x 7" house (approx.), plus decorations
Published: 10/15/2012

Ingredients

Dough

Construction icing

  • 3 large egg whites*
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 4 cups (1 pound) unsifted confectioners' sugar
  • food coloring, optional
  • peppermint oil, lemon extract, vanilla extract, or the flavor of your choice, optional, to taste
  • *Or substitute ¼ cup meringue powder combined with ½ cup cold water.

Tips from our bakers

  • If you want to "paint" with the icing, use food coloring to create different colors and thin the icing with a few drops of water so it will flow.
  • Check out our online, step-by-step instructions for building your own gingerbread house.

Directions

1) To make the dough: In a large saucepan, heat the buttermilk and butter until the butter is just melted; remove from the heat.

2) Add the brown sugar and molasses, then beat in the egg.

3) Whisk the baking soda, spices, and salt with 1 cup of the flour.

4) Add this to the wet mixture and mix until incorporated.

5) Add flour 1 cup at a time until you have a smooth, stiff dough. It should be stiff enough to be flexible, and neither crumbly nor sticky.

6) Divide the dough in half, flatten each half, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

7) Preheat the oven to 350°F.

8) Using a quarter of the dough at a time (return the unused portion to the refrigerator), roll the dough 1/4" thick on a piece of parchment.

9) Cut your construction pieces as needed, pulling away the scraps to be re-rolled. Transfer the dough, parchment and all, to a baking sheet.

10) Bake the dough for 15 to 18 minutes, until set and very lightly browned at the edges.

11) Remove from the oven and trim any rough edges while the pieces are still warm. Cool completely before using for construction.

12) To make the royal icing: In a large bowl, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until foamy.

13) Sprinkle in the sugar gradually, whipping all the while. The more you whip the icing, the stiffer it'll be and the faster it'll harden up.

14) Cover the bowl of icing, taking out only as much as you'll need immediately. The easiest way to store the icing for long periods of time is in a plastic pastry bag, or zip-top food storage bag.

Yield: enough dough for a 10" x 7" house (approx.), plus decorations.

Reviews

1
  • star rating 12/22/2014
  • tck130 from KAF Community
  • I just used again for our houses for the 3rd or 4th year in a row. I find the houses to be very sturdy. I do think it puffs up, despite chilling and rolling even thinner than recommended (did 1/8th inch on last set). The puffiness doesn't really bother me much as our houses are definitely beginner types. Will try next year with less leavening maybe.
  • star rating 11/25/2014
  • djohnson16509 from KAF Community
  • We had great success with this! I wonder from the negative reviews if they did the recipe by volume instead of weight? We did not experience any of the negative issues that some other reviews posted. This has been absolutely excellent. There is definitely a clear gingerbread taste as well. This seems like a classic recipe and design. I have tried many versions of gingerbread house and contraction over the years and this seems to reflect the common standard of what people expect in taste, texture, and design.
  • star rating 12/27/2013
  • Jenny from Toronto, On Canada
  • I first made this recipe a few years ago for a gingerbread house that has stood the test of time. Makes great house construction, bakes puffy but that doesn't bother me. It does lack slightly on taste if you're planning on making gingerbread cookies, once iced with plain icing sugar frosting it tastes geat. I really like this recipe!
  • star rating 12/21/2013
  • Aleel from Illinois
  • This recipe worked very well for making gingerbread houses. It was very easy to work with and rolled out easily. Make sure to roll it out to the recommended thickness. The batch that turned out puffy was the one I did not roll out thin enough.
  • star rating 12/17/2013
  • from
  • I used this recipe to make a couple dozen gingerbread men for my son's grade-school class. I was disappointed. Dough is tough to roll out and work, puffs up a lot, and has an off flavor from the baking soda and buttermilk. No strong gingerbread flavor (very mild) -- I like my gingerbread pungent, so this is a personal preference issue. On the plus side, is easy to peel off the parchment paper and doesn't stick to the rolling pin. I'll be searching for another recipe, however.
    The gingerbread dough that I love becomes very stiff when chilled. I have to put it quickly in the microwave if I am impatient! Or if my kids are impatient! Then, it become more pliable. Adding more ginger is always a possibility. Be sure you are not using a black strap molasses. It tends to be less sweet! Elisabeth@KAF
  • star rating 12/15/2013
  • Supermegabeth from Portland oregon
  • This recipe turned out great for me, the only thing I did different was I put my cut out pieces in the freezer for 10min before baking and they didn't puff up or lose shape!
  • star rating 12/27/2012
  • Natali from
  • I doubled the recipe and we had enough to do 7 small houses for my family. The reason it puffs up too much is because you are making them too thick. If yours is thinned enough, then it turns out just right. As a tip, it was a buggar to roll out on the parchment paper. We eventually rolled it on the counter and then pulled it up, put in on the parchment paper and then gave a quick roll and then cut. We were so impressed with the recipe and that it held together. We did have 2 puffy houses and made the rest thinner and even those held up sturdy with the frosting. We just held it in place as it dried and it didn't take that long at all. As another tip, we set aside small candy from Halloween (nerds, smarties, whoppers, m&m's) to do the houses. It has now become a family tradition and we will be coming back for this recipe next year.
  • star rating 12/23/2012
  • W from Seattle
  • I agree with the previous poster, except I think the puffiness has to do with the amount of flour. My gingerbread also baked up puffy -not all the pieces, but a lot of them, also they are somewhat soft. It doesn't taste very good either, not that I expect construction gingerbread to taste very good, but I definitely wouldn't eat it.
    Here's a few tips - roll to 1/4 inch thick, be sure to bake for 15-18 minutes or until just browning on the edges. We've made note of your suggestions for this recipe. Irene @ KAF
  • star rating 12/22/2012
  • from
  • Mine puffed up a lot too, I think it has too much flour.
    Thanks for your frank evaluation. Be sure to roll 1/4 inch thick - which is always a bit scary for gingerbread builders! Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF
  • star rating 12/20/2012
  • edina from KAF Community
  • The taste is fine and my cutout shapes didn't spread horizontally, but I think the recipe has too much leavening in it because it puffs up a lot. Also, my pieces are still somewhat soft even with extra baking time and letting them cool in the oven after I turned it off. I'm very worried my assembled gingerbread house might soften further and collapse with any humidity in the air and/or with the heat generated by the lights I plan to use inside of the house. I just hope it lasts through my two dinner parties. Perhaps others will have better luck with this recipe but I will probably not be using it again.
    Thanks for your honest feedback on the recipe. I'll be sure to share it with the team. MJR @ KAF
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