We built our very first gingerbread house together when my son was just a toddler, using an inexpensive kit we picked up at our local grocery store. Thus set a holiday tradition that has evolved into everything from Gingerbread Ugly Sweater Cookies to an entire Gingerbread Christmas Train. Those Gingerbread House Kits are a parent’s greatest gift, particularly when kids are little and their attention span rarely exceeds 3-7 minutes. Now that my two kids are old enough to create and build dioramas, I decided to step up our gingerbread house-making skills in honor of Discovery Science Center’s Science of Gingerbread Competition. Use this easy Gingerbread House recipe to make your own creation, then enter it into the Gingerbread Competition!
This is part of a sponsored campaign with Discovery Science Center.
Gingerbread House Recipe
Last week, Discover Science Center invited us to create our very own gingerbread house as part of their annual gingerbread competition. Students and teachers from the Orange County School of Performing Arts were on-hand to help our little gingerbread creators execute their designs. During our Gingerbread House Building Lesson, we learned some tips and tricks for building a gingerbread house that will last throughout the season. From creating the perfect Royal Icing, to building a lasting foundation, here is their Gingerbread House Recipe followed by some insider tips!
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp cloves
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup margarine
- 1 egg beaten
- 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 3 3/4 cups powdered sugar sifted
- 1-2 large egg whites may substitute 4 tsp packaged egg whites and 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp almond extract may substitute vanilla extract or lemon juice
In a medium saucepan, heat sugar, molasses, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves to boiling, stirring occasionally
Remove from heat; stir in soda (it will foam up)
Stir in margarine until melted
With a fork, stir in egg, then flour
On a floured surface, knead dough until mixed
Divide dough in half, wrap half with plastic wrap; set aside
Roll half the dough, with a rolling pin, slightly thinner than 1/4 inch
Cut with cutters
Bake at 325 °F on a cookie sheet for 12 minutes; cool on a wire rack
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, egg white, and water
Mix the ingredients together with a wooden spoon, until the icing is thickened and smooth, about 2 minutes. The icing will keep up to 2 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator
Before using, beat it with a fork
Tips for Building a Gingerbread House
- Before you begin to put your gingerbread house together, draw out your design. My son decided he wanted a Pikmin-inspired Gingerbread house, so he drew out his “planet” on a piece of paper. We also used Google as a reference for characters and items that we could replicate on his “planet.”
- Use an established recipe. If you plan to make your gingerbread house from scratch, be sure to use a well-tested recipe for both the cookie pieces and the icing to ensure the house will last. Tip: Choose a recipe from an expert baker.
- Take your time. Building a gingerbread house that will last throughout the season requires adequate time for the icing to set the framework. In some cases, allowing the gingerbread house to dry overnight before decorating will ensure that it will hold up when items are placed on it for decoration.
- Use your Halloween candy. Before you toss that Halloween candy, pull out any pieces that may work for windows, doors, and other decorative items.
- Consider using a Gingerbread House kit: If you are short on time or want to save time, consider purchasing an inexpensive Gingerbread House Kit that can be decorated. Feel free to think outside of the kit and add items to make your Gingerbread House your own.
The Science of Gingerbread at Discovery Science Center
This winter, the Discovery Science Center will once again host their annual Science of Gingerbread. This memorable holiday event includes hands-on holiday activities for the whole family.
- Gingerbread Derby – Build and race your own candy car
- Build a House Learning Station
- “A Matter of Taste” Stage Show (weekends)
- Cookie Decorating in the Healthy Kitchen
- Santa Meet & Greet (11:00am to 3:00pm on 11/24-11/26, 12/2-12/3, 12/9-12/10, 12/16-12/24)
The Science of Gingerbread runs November 24 through December 31, 2017.
Enter the Science of Gingerbread Competition
Have you built a Gingerbread House? Enter it into the annual annual Science of Gingerbread competition! Your entry will be on display at the Discovery Science Center and you could win some amazing prizes. Entries will be accepted November 18 – December 3, 2017.