Building Gingerbread

Building Gingerbread


"Every Christmas I design a new pattern and make a gingerbread house for the holidays. The kids love to help decorate."

Ingredients 3 h {{adjustedServings}} servings

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Original recipe yields 30 servings


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  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Melt shortening in a saucepan large enough for mixing the dough. Mix in sugar and molasses. Combine the flour, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and ginger; gradually stir into the pan, using your hands to work in the last bit. Dough should be stiff.
  3. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness, and cut out as desired. Make sure the gingerbread is of uniform thickness, or the edges may burn before the center is done. Place pieces onto cookie sheets.
  4. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Let cool for several minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove to racks to finish cooling.
  5. When the gingerbread has cooled completely, make the frosting cement. In a medium bowl, mix together confectioners' sugar and cream of tartar. Add egg whites and vanilla. Beat on high speed until frosting holds its shape. If necessary, add more confectioners' sugar to thicken the icing. Cover frosting with a damp cloth to prevent drying.
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  1. 74 Ratings


My mom & I make approximately 40 gingerbread houses each year, so I know what I am saying when I tell you this is a great recipe. We lost our recipe this year so tried this one and we like it better than our usual one. You will have to correctly measure the flour or it would be too dry. You scoop the flour into the measure cup and with a kitchen scoop, then clear off the top with a knife WITHOUT tapping the cup. Then it should not be too dry. Also don't try to make them too thin. They should be app. 3/8" thick. Good luck with your gingerbread house!


To all those who have tried this recipe and ended up with a crumbly mess (like me!) I have some valuable advice. Once you've melted the shortening, keep the heat on medium as you add the rest of the ingredients GRADUALLY using a whisk to mix it in, rather than dumping all the dry ingredients in all at once. Keeping it over the heat helped keep it warm and pliable. It's amazing how much of a difference this all made. It turned out PERFECTLY and I will be sure to use this recipe every year!


This recipe goes against all "rules" of typical rolled cookies. This dough needs to be *hot* to be workable, and I wouldn't use any flour at all while rolling - the shortening keeps the dough from sticking to anything, and extra flour just makes a goo out of the oil. I microwaved the dough for about 10-20 seconds between each rolling, and the results seem fine and strong. The flour-to-liquid ratio is critical in this recipe. I was very light-handed with the flour, and it turned out fine. You might want to sift the flour first, or spoon it very lightly into the measuring cup. I also doubled the spices and added 2 t. cinnamon and 1 t. allspice for extra flavor. I was able to make 2 6-inch square roof pieces, 2 5x5-inch side walls, and 2 front/back pieces extending up to 7 inches tall - and I still had plenty of leftover dough for trees, a chimney, etc.