I got the bright idea a few weeks ago that I wanted to build a gingerbread house. Of course, it couldn’t be just any gingerbread house. I wanted to build an architecturally appropriate farmhouse style gingerbread house. My main responsibility at work is reviewing the plans of new-build homes for both custom and production builders in Central Ohio. One of the communities I work on focuses solely on American architecture, and thus enters the farmhouse. Essential elements of a farmhouse include 1-2 story heights, rectangular, L-shaped or T-shaped plans (to allow for efficient expansion), plain window trim, wide or wrap-around porches and a simple roof structure. The façade is typically simple and asymmetrical with double-hung windows with 4-6 panes, a 45-degree pitched roof, and an occasional circular pediment in gable areas.
I took these essential elements and implemented them into a sketched design of the elevations of my farmhouse. Once I had a sketched design, it was time to create a template. Normal people would probably buy a template from the internet, but not me. No. I printed 1”x1” graph paper, and started sketching out my pieces, starting with the front gabled massing. Once I had figured out the proportions and side, the rest kind of fell into place. I cut out all my stencils, and decided on a day to start gingerbreading.
I used the gingerbread recipe found here. It had good reviews, and I really had no idea what I was doing, so I believed them. The recipe worked great, although I will definitely roll my gingerbread a bit thinner next time. I highly recommend you read this tutorial though. Its extremely helpful.
After the gingerbread was baked, I re-cut each piece to ensure it was the correct size, and created a stencil to cut out my windows. This proved trickier than I expected, and I ended up having to re-do one wall. I used a silicone baking mat when pouring my sugar windows and everything peeled right off without a hitch.
Assembly was a long and slow process. I started by making sure everything fit together properly (but ONLY after the gingerbread sat and hardened for nearly a week). I used boxes of sharpies (a couponing venture that may appear in a future post) and books to temporarily hold everything in place.
I made up some royal icing using an egg white based recipe, as opposed to meringue powder, and it worked great, but please don’t ask for the recipe because I can’t find it now. This stuff was literally like glue when it dried. I made sure to use a liberal amount to hold my house together.
The roof was a struggle. I ended up revising my template and re-cutting some of the dried gingerbread using a serrated knife because things were not meshing well. But we got it done, because Anniething is possible if you try hard and truly believe.
Decorating was the least stressful part. I didn’t use much candy- just icing, candy canes, coconut and chex mix. I liked the natural look. I added lights inside, and a little fluff to the chimney for smoke (the only non-edible thing besides the lights themselves).
I’m so happy with how it turned out. I can’t believe I was so successful on my first try. I won’t lie and say it wasn’t stressful at times, but it was worth it. Its so rewarding to look at the finished product. Let me see what gingerbread houses you’ve made in the comments, even if its not “architecturally appropriate.” I promise not to judge. Also, keep in mind that this was an EXTREMELY messy process, especially in my little kitchen apartment. My boxer, Simon, spent 3 days laying under the table licking up sugar and gingerbread crumbs.