Make a Victorian Gingerbread House
For gingerbread dough:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For royal icing:
3-4 tablespoons meringue powder
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon extract
For house embellishments:
3 ounces candy melts
8 ounces chocolate fondant
1/4 teaspoon buttercup-yellow food color
3 ounces white ready-made fondant
1/2 ounce green ready-made fondant
1 silver dragee
For house construction:
Victorian gingerbread house template
Make Gingerbread Dough
- Sift flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda and salt into large bowl.
- Beat butter in another large bowl with an electric hand mixer at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
- Add brown sugar and beat 1 minute.
- Add molasses and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add egg and beat until well blended, about 1 minute.
- Reduce speed to low and beat in vanilla.
- Add flour mixture and beat on low speed just to blend (Image 1).
- Gather dough into ball and divide in half. Form each half into ball and flatten into disk (Image 2). Wrap disks separately in plastic and chill until firm, at least 4 hours.
- Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (Image 3).
- Working with one disk at a time, roll out dough between two sheets of waxed paper to 1/4-inch thickness.
- Use the Victorian house template to cut pieces from the gingerbread dough (Image 4), and transfer to prepared sheets, spacing two inches apart.
- Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are firm on top and slightly darker around edges, about 8 minutes for smaller shapes and up to 15 minutes for larger shapes.
- Remove from the oven and re-cut the gingerbread pieces using the templates and a sharp knife (Image 5). This will ensure the pieces fit together perfectly when assembled. Let pieces cool completely.
Make Royal Icing
- Whisk together meringue powder and powdered sugar (Image 1).
- Pour mixture into bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment.
- Add warm water and mix on high speed for about 5-7 minutes or until stiff peaks are achieved (Image 2).
- Transfer to a piping bag and use to assemble gingerbread house pieces.
- Cover remaining royal icing with a damp towel to prevent crusting (Image 3).
Gingerbread House Construction
- Warm candy melts in a heatproof bowl in the microwave at 30-second intervals. Stir well until mixture is melted smooth and no lumps remain.
- Gather the gingerbread pieces (Image 1). Coat the short sides of a front/back piece with candy melts using a spoon (Image 2). Attach a side piece on either side, butting the short ends against the candy-coated short ends of the front piece. Hold the pieces in place for 2-3 minutes, or use a tall tumbler as a prop (Image 3).
- Coat the remaining front/back pieces and short ends with candy melt and position between the side pieces on the open end. Let stand until set (Image 4).
- Adhere Victorian Porch A piece in the center of the front of the house using the melted candy (Image 1), and follow with Victorian Porch B piece, placed in the center of Victorian Porch A piece (Image 2).
- Coat the under edges of the Victorian Roof A pieces with the melted candy (reheat in the microwave if candy sets) then place them, angled, on the center peaks. Hold until set, about 2-3 minutes.
- Coat the underside of 1 Victorian Roof B piece and 1 Victorian Roof C piece with melted candy (Image 3). Place larger piece to the long outside edge of the roof peak and the smaller piece to the inside. The smaller edge will rest against a Victorian Roof A piece. Repeat with remaining B and C pieces on the other end of the roof.
- Coat one long edge of each Victorian Porch Eaves piece with melted candy and attach over the peak of Victorian Porch B. Hold until set.
- Place 1 cup royal icing in a bowl and stir in yellow food color until a consistent color is achieved. Cover the front, back and sides of house with icing using a small offset spatula. Let dry (Image 1).
- Lightly coat the roof tiles with a little royal icing. Roll chocolate fondant between two sheets of wax paper to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut one piece of fondant 13 inches long by 3 1/2 inches wide. Drape the fondant over the roof and press to adhere (Image 2). Cut away excess fondant with a sharp knife.
- Cut a 4 3/4-inch long x 1-inch wide piece of fondant that has been rolled to 1/4-inch thickness. Dab porch eaves with a little royal icing and drape fondant over (Image 3). Trim away excess fondant with a sharp knife.
- Create scalloped shingle impressions in the fondant on the roof by using a scallop-edge cookie cutter (Image 4) or the end of a small spoon. Repeat process on porch eaves.
- Use the same cookie cutter to cut out scalloped edging from the white fondant rolled to 1/4-inch thickness (Image 1). Attach the pieces using royal icing as glue (Image 2).
- Roll the green fondant to 1/4-inch thickness and cut out a small rectangle, about 1 inch by 1/2 inch. Cut a small ellipse from the center of the rectangle (Image 3). Place the rectangle on a scrap piece of white fondant rolled to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut to size and roll flat with a rolling pin (Image 4). Press on a dragee "doorknob." Attach the door to the house using royal icing (Image 5).
- Use scrap chocolate fondant rolled to 1/4-inch thickness to cut out small 1/2 x 1/2-inch windows. Attach to the house using royal icing. Cut two 1-inch circles using a fondant cutter or bottle cap. Place them under the each small roof peak (Image 1).
- Allow house to dry completely overnight. Gently transfer to a serving platter or cake plate. Dust with powdered sugar "snow."
Notes: Chocolate fondant can be found at most craft stores and cake supply shops. If you can't find chocolate fondant, Tootsie Roll candies can be substituted. Knead 5-6 together at one time and roll flat. Cut as desired.
In this recipe, quick-setting candy melts are used as the mortar. It cuts drying time drastically, but royal icing can be used instead.