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    11 Borderline Genius Tips For Making A Gingerbread House

    These basic tricks will take your gingerbread house to the next level.

    Making gingerbread houses is a nostalgic and entertaining Christmas activity, and it's even more rewarding when you make the whole thing from scratch. Here are 11 tips and tricks for making the most impressive gingerbread house ever.

    1. Use nonstick spray on the Dutch oven that you're using to make the dough.


    Remember: This dough is pretty sticky. Even if you're using a nonstick surface like a Dutch oven, spraying the bottom and sides with nonstick spray will help the dough release more easily. Spraying non-stick oil in the cup you'll use to measure out molasses is also a good idea for similar reasons.

    2. Keep the dough warm in a Dutch oven until you're ready to knead it.


    This dough will be used to make the walls and roof. It's important for the house's structure that the dough is kept warm while you're working it. Cut the dough into three pieces, and keep the pieces you're not working with in a warm Dutch oven until you're ready to knead them.

    3. When rolling out the dough, press down the rolling pin and rotate the dough a quarter turn a few times, repeating the same process each time, to form a rectangular shape.


    This will help form the dough into a nice, even rectangle when you roll it out and make it easier for you to cut out your shapes.

    4. Use a ruler when cutting the shapes to ensure that they're perfectly straight.


    You'll want to make sure the walls and roof are perfectly straight because it will make putting together the gingerbread house much easier. And the end result will look more beautiful, too.

    5. Use a knife to make slits for the windows, but leave them in place until after you've baked the cookies.


    When you remove the cookies from the oven, recut the shapes and pry them out with a knife. This will keep everything intact and help the edge crisp up and maintain their shape.

    It really does make a world of difference.


    6. Use egg whites to strengthen the frosting.


    Putting egg whites in the icing helps strengthen it and make for a harder frosting when it dries. Just make sure you use pasteurized egg whites, in case anyone eats it. And if you don't want to use egg whites, you can also use meringue powder.

    7. Use a fine grater to sand the edges of the cookie walls.


    The sides of the cookie walls can expand when they're baked. Sand the sides with a micro grater to make them straight.

    8. Use hard candies to create a super impessive colorful glass window effect.


    Put hard candies such as Jolly Ranchers in the "window" holes of the cookies and bake them for a few minutes. The candy will melt and leave the illusion of colorful windows. If the candy doesn't completely spread, use a little toothpick to gently push the extra sugar to the window edges.

    9. Use a folded piece of paper and two small cups to help the roof dry in the correct shape.


    Use icing to fasten a folded piece of paper to the back of the roof. Then, place two bowls under each side of the roof while it dries. That will help the roof dry in the shape it'll eventually be in and prevent it from sliding when assembled. Just make sure it's super dry before you add it to your house.

    10. Add frosting on the inside of the house to keep the pieces in place.


    Wherever you're connecting the walls to the roof, add a thick line of frosting on the inside of the house to add structure. You won't be able to see the inside, so it won't affect the final look of the house.

    11. Thin out the icing you're using for decorating by adding water.


    The icing you've been using to put together the house is very thick. Add some water to dilute it, and it'll be perfect for decorating the exterior of your gingerbread house.

    And there you have it: Best. Gingerbread. House. Ever.


    Click here for the full recipe and some templates you can print at home to help you design your house!

    Recipe: Holiday Gingerbread House


    Makes 1 house


    5 cups all-purpose flour

    1 teaspoon baking soda

    3 teaspoons ground ginger

    1 teaspoon nutmeg

    1 teaspoon cinnamon

    1 teaspoon kosher salt

    Nonstick cooking spray, for greasing

    1 cup vegetable shortening

    1 cup granulated sugar

    1 cup molasses

    4 large egg whites

    1 teaspoon cream of tartar

    6 cups powdered sugar, sifted

    Water, as needed


    Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

    In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

    Grease the bottom and sides of a heavy-bottomed pot (such as a Dutch oven) with nonstick spray. This will ensure the dough doesn’t stick to the pot as you turn it out.

    Melt the shortening in the greased pot over medium heat. Add the molasses and sugar, bring to a boil, then turn off the heat.

    Gradually stir in 4 cups of the flour mixture, 1 cup at a time, making sure to fully incorporate each addition before adding more. You’ll have some of the flour mixture left over.

    Dust a work surface with some of the remaining flour mixture. Carefully turn the dough out onto the floured surface and work in the flour mixture. (You don’t want the dough to be too crumbly. You may have some flour mixture left over, which can be used for rolling out the dough.)

    Once the flour is incorporated, shape the dough into a 12-inch log and cut into 3 portions, 1 piece slightly larger than the others for the roof.

    Set aside the smaller pieces of dough in the pot (it still should be warm, but not hot), cover with plastic wrap, and put the lid on. You’ll want to work with the dough while it’s warm as it tends to harden at room temperature. If it hardens, simply microwave for about 30 seconds.

    On the floured surface, roll out the larger piece of dough to a rectangle about ½-inch thick. Using a house template, cut the 2 pieces of the roof and set on a prepared baking sheet, spacing about 1 inch apart as the dough will expand while baking.

    Roll out the rest of the dough and cut out the front, back, and sides of the house using the templates. Place on a baking sheet.

    Wrap the leftover dough in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 1 day. Microwave to soften and roll out to make decorations for the house or another gingerbread creation.

    Bake the gingerbread house pieces for 12-15 minutes, until they have hardened and baked through. Let cool completely.

    Make the royal icing: In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric hand mixer until frothy. Gradually add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until the icing is smooth and thick. NOTE: The icing is used for gluing the house together. It’s very thick. To use the icing for decorating, add about 1 teaspoon of water at a time to thin the icing to your desired consistency.

    Assemble the gingerbread house with the royal icing. TIP: Put the roof pieces side by side with the underside up (and the eventual exposed part of the roof down). “Glue” a cut piece of a paper shopping bag across these two pieces with royal icing. Place two small glass bowls on either side of this upside-down roof to prop the pieces up into a “V” shape. Let dry completely. When assembling, this will help ensure that your roof doesn’t slip down the sides of the house.

    Decorate the house with more royal icing and your desired decorations.


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