Gingerbread houses are a Christmas tradition the whole family can make together. Instead of spending hours making gingerbread, you can make gingerbread houses using graham crackers to save yourself both effort and time during a busy season. Display your houses on your table or in a decorative corner for Christmas Day.
- 2 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 box confectioner’s sugar
- 1 large box of graham crackers
- Hard Christmas candies for decoration
EditPreparing the House
- Separate your Christmas candies into bowls. This step saves the hassle of opening bags of candy with sticky fingers later.
- Place an aluminum pie tin upside down in front of you.
- Combine the egg whites and lemon juice in a large bowl to make royal icing. Add powdered sugar 2 tablespoons at a time and blend the mixture with a mixer until the icing has the consistency of stiff peanut butter. The icing will secure the graham cracker walls of the house and stick the candy decorations to the surface.
- Place large spoonfuls of the royal icing into quart-size zipped style freezer bags. Avoid regular thickness sandwich bags because the plastic is too thin and will not hold up to the punishment of being used as a pastry tube. Approximately 1 cup of icing each bag is enough. Make sure that each gingerbread artist has his or her own bag of icing.
- Seal the bags.
- Use scissors to snip 1/4″ (6 mm) off one corner of the icing filled bag. You now have an “icing tube”. As you decorate, you’ll squeeze the icing toward the snipped corner and use it to dispense a bead of icing on your gingerbread house.
EditAssembling the House
- Count out six whole, uncracked, unseparated, unbroken crackers. Set four of them aside to form the roof and the two long sides of your house.
- Cut the two remaining cracker sheets to form end gable pieces. Use a gentle “sawing” motion with a serrated knife. Use the short end of a cracker to measure the angled line from the center of the long side to the centerline of the cracker.
- Repeat for the second gable end.
- Squeeze icing along the edges of a gable end and 1 whole graham cracker.
- Place the long edge of the wall cracker vertical to the base edge of the gable end cracker. Stick the side edge of the gable end cracker to the bead of icing on the flat side of the wall cracker. The walls should hold each other up.
- Add the other gable end and wall in the same manner. Use a bead of icing along the bottom to stick the pieces to the pie tin. Also, use a bead of icing where the two walls will join at the corners.
- Add the roof crackers in the same manner as the wall crackers, but pipe the icing on the flat of the roof, not on the edges. Then, stick the flat of the roof to the top edges of the gable ends and walls. Allow the icing to set for 15 to 20 minutes before handling the house again. If you place candies on it too quickly, you risk collapsing the house.
EditDecorating the House
- Line the roof with icing where you want to add shingles.
- Add the shingles using your chosen candies.
- You can also use cereal for the shingles.
- Use your imagination and decorate the entire house whatever way you like. Look at these samples for inspiration:
- A roof ridge.
- A candy cane door.
- A male teenager’s house.
- An adult’s house.
- Another adult’s version.
- A log cabin.
- An additional small house.
- Sprinkle powdered sugar over the house and yard for a snowy effect.
- If you are making gingerbread houses with small children, try spreading royal icing on the sides of an empty cream carton. Stick graham crackers to the icing; doing this will ensure the sides of your gingerbread houses do not collapse.
- Spray clear lacquer on your gingerbread houses to extend their lives. Of course, doing this will make the houses inedible. Store the houses in a cool, dry place, and cover them nightly with a clean trash bag.
- Skip gummy candy when you decorate your gingerbread house. The surface oils make the candy stick poorly to the royal icing.
- A way to prevent graham crackers from crumbling when you cut them is to first “paint” a cutting line on with water and a small paint brush. This softens the crackers just enough to cut them without them falling apart. Don’t worry.—It dries quickly.
- Instead of making a triangle roof, you can just place a full graham cracker on top of the four un-cut squares.
- Don’t use too much frosting.
- Check the condition of your gingerbread house throughout the season. Make sure the graham crackers are not softened by humidity, and make sure the house is not attracting ants.
- Protect your work surface with newspapers or an old vinyl tablecloth.
- Keep gingerbread houses out of reach of your pets or you will find them “sampling” your house. This can be especially heart-rending to a little person who has his or her creation half eaten by the family dog!
EditThings You’ll Need
- Large bowl
- Disposable aluminum pie tin
- Zipper style freezer bags
- Serrated knife