2023 Gingerbread House Tour

🎄☃️✨ Welcome to Day 19 of Blogmas At Home! It’s 6 days until Christmas and it’s time to stick to the 4 main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup! ✨☃️🎄

Last year, I went all out with my gingerbread construction and made a Gingerbread Christmas Market, complete with a kransekake Christmas tree and little stalls selling different goods. It was my magnum opus. I won’t lie though… it was INTENSE. I ended up covered in icing and very worn out, so, this year, I went back to basics (well, almost).

For as long as I can remember, the gingerbread house in our family has been the ‘Finnish fairy-tale house’ from the December 2002 issue of BBC Good Food magazine, which was a recipe shared by a woman called Mira Paren. We always use that recipe for our gingerbread dough, and, when I’m not running away with some crazy gingerbread Christmas market concept, we typically follow the basic construction for the house too. This year, we went for that traditional house again, but with a few extra decorations to make it super special.

While this post is not a recipe, nor a tutorial, I thought I would show you around the gingerbread house that my mum and I made together this year- kind of a ‘Hey MTV, welcome to my (gingerbread) crib’ situation. Let’s get into the House Tour, shall we?

Table of Contents

The Basic Construction

As I mentioned, we use the same recipe for our gingerbread house dough every year. I actually posted that recipe on the blog last year- you can find it here. It’s not technically gingerbread (it doesn’t actually even contain ginger) but it is DELICIOUS and super sturdy, so it’s great for building with. Also, side note at this point: I never knew there were people who made gingerbread houses with no intention of eating them…? I am BAFFLED- why would you go to all that trouble just to throw it away?! I’ve seen this trend at the moment of using hot glue to assemble it and I just… it breaks my sugar-loving heart. We always eat our gingerbread house and it is always delicious and I absolutely would not have it any other way. We used royal icing to stick this house together and it worked perfectly.

When cutting out all of the gingerbread pieces, we always do the building pieces first, then the people/figures/trees and then, finally, all of the scraps and remaining dough is kneaded together and rolled into one big base piece.

The structure of this gingerbread house is pretty simple: it is just 2 square(-ish) walls, 2 end walls (with gables)and 2 rectangular roof pieces. It also has a chimney (4x little rectangle pieces, 2 of them with triangles cut out at the bottom, so that the chimney can sit flush against the ridge of the roof).

In terms of people/figures, we opted to keep it simple this year and just do one man and one woman (nominally my mum and dad), as opposed to the whole family that we usually do! There’s not tons of space around the house, so we tried to keep the figures to a minimum. We did also include our dog though (but I had to cut her out freehand because we don’t have a dog-shaped cutter, so she’s a little bit squiffy). Around the back, we have a tree and a reindeer, because, after all, it is Christmas.

The Decorations

The Roof

We always use Smarties for the roof tiles, which is what the original recipe did. I think it makes the whole thing look so cheerful (plus it makes the roof pieces super tasty to eat).

The Chimney

To decorate the chimney, we just covered it in royal icing. Whenever I’m left unsupervised for more than a second, I always end up filling the chimney with Jelly Tots. I have no explanation for this other than I think it looks funny.

Also, side note: have Jelly Tots changed shape? Last I remember they were flatter, with only a slight dome, whereas now they just resemble slightly smaller American Hard Gums?!

The Fence

The marshmallow fence is another design feature that came from the original recipe. They probably wouldn’t keep any intruders out, but they taste good so we’ll let it slide.

The Paving Stones

Again, from the original recipe- we stick a few giant chocolate buttons leading up to the front door to act as little paving stones. I had actually planned to use Cadbury Twisted buttons for this, but they ended up looking a little bit too much, so we just went with the classic plain ones.

The Windows

This was one of my new ideas for this year: After Eight shutters. I sometimes find that, in the midst of all of the other decorations, the windows get a little neglected and end up looking a bit lacklustre, compared to the rest of the house- I thought that adding some dark shutters for contrast might help to liven them up a little bit. I didn’t want to bother with tempering dark chocolate or anything, so I had the idea to use chopped up After Eights (which are mint chocolate thins). I cut a single After Eight into quarters, then cut two of the quarters in half to make 4 little shutters (2 for each window). I snacked on the leftovers, obviously.

For the windows themselves, I just piped them on using the royal icing- I know lots of gingerbread houses have boiled sweet/gelatine sheet windows, but I think that’s a little beyond my capabilities at the moment!

The Chimney Breast

Okay, the chimney breast is another of my slightly rogue ideas- but I’ve actually been doing it for a couple of years now because I like it so much! I use a Curly Wurly as a ‘chimney breast’- I just trim it to the size of the back wall (closest to the chimney, because, obviously, we’re all about realism here) and stick it on with royal icing.

For the little stones on the chimney breast, I used these mini jazzies from Waitrose. I just piped some royal icing into each of the holes in the Curly Curly and pressed the mini jazzies onto those splodges. I used to use Jelly Tots for this, but they are the wrong shape now (see my earlier Jelly Tot rant), so I had to use these- honestly, I think I like them even better!

The Front Door

Like the windows, the front door is often a bit of an afterthought on our gingerbread houses. This year, I was determined to give it some love and attention. Admittedly, my initial plan did not work out- I tried to create a little door canopy using two After Eights and some trimmed candy canes, but it wasn’t sturdy enough. In the end, we used two (different) After Eights to make a kind of ‘farmhouse’ style Dutch door (side note: I just googled what those were called and it never occurred to me that that was why the bullet journalling community calls cutting away some of the paper a Dutch door! The more you know…). I also stuck a mini M&M on as the handle.

To decorate around the door, we stuck two candy canes (my mum trimmed these down to remove the curved part- she actually used some secateurs to do this and it was much easier than trying to chop them with a knife) on either side and made a little evergreen garland above it. To do that, I just piped on a good amount of royal icing, then used tweezers to stick these holly sprinkles (also from Waitrose) into the icing.

The People, Animals + Tree

It suddenly occurred to me, as I was sticking the people into the icing beside the house, that giving the gingerbread man fancy little buttons and the gingerbread woman an apron was… problematic. In my defence, my mum and I were both wearing aprons at the time (though, then again, my dad was not wearing a shirt…). It’s just what we’ve always done, but I’ve never thought about the questionable gender roles at play before! Maybe next year I’ll give the gingerbread woman a little power suit to remind her that the world is her oyster. Then again, I spend half my time in an apron, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, so maybe I’ll just give the gingerbread man an apron too! Yeah, I think that’s the vibe.

Anyway, I just used royal icing to decorate the people (and the dog). I kept things simple (no faces) because I didn’t want to tempt fate. For the reindeer, I used royal icing for the eye, then used a little more icing to stick on a red mini M&M for the nose. For the tree, I did little swoops of icing as garlands and then I stuck on some Jelly Tots as the decorations.

Final Thoughts

I think this might just be… my favourite gingerbread house we’ve ever had! It’s fun and it’s covered in sweets and it’s cute and I KNOW it will be tasty- I’m very proud of this one. It’s giving… Hansel and Gretel, without the prospect of being baked alive. Good times.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my Gingerbread House Tour. Do you make a gingerbread house at Christmastime? Let me know in the comments below!



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