English Language Blog

Gingerbread houses – Christmas tradition Posted by on Dec 22, 2015 in Culture

Image of a gingerbread house by Carrie Stephens on Flickr.com is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Image of a gingerbread house by Carrie Stephens on Flickr.com is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Making gingerbread houses is a Christmastime tradition in the United States (and other countries too). In the US, children often make small gingerbread houses in school, while at home some families make large, candy-covered gingerbread houses. There are even gingerbread house competitions this time of year, where people make elaborate and theme-based gingerbread houses.

If you have never made a gingerbread house, here is your chance! Below I have a recipe for making gingerbread and the steps you will need to follow to make a gingerbread house. Note: Gingerbread houses are not made out of ‘bread.’ They are made out of something that is more like a cookie.

If you want to see some pictures of amazing ginger bread house creations to inspire you, check out this link:

Gingerbread recipe

6 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 teaspoons ground ginger (This is the ingredient that gives gingerbread its name!)
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 Tablespoons soft butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup dark molasses
1 Tablespoon water

1. Mix together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, clove, and salt) in a large bowl, set aside the bowl for later.
2. Use an electric mixer, to mix together butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Then add eggs, molasses, and water. Mix well.
3. Add half of the flour mixture to the molasses mixture slowly and mix well. Stir in the remaining flour mixture.
4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for at least two hours to harden.

5. Create a gingerbread house pattern. You will need at least four walls and two roof pieces, but you can make something much more elaborate if you want to. Check out a pattern example here: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-create-gingerbread-houses/step3/Day-Three-Pt-1-House-Templates/

6. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it sit for 10 minutes before rolling it out and cutting out your pattern.
7. Roll out the dough (1/4 inch or 6mm thick). Use plenty of flour to keep dough from sticking.
8. When you have finished cutting out your gingerbread house pieces you need to bake the dough on flat cookie sheet pans.

9. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Bake gingerbread pieces in oven (at 350°F / 180°C) for 10-15 minutes for the large pieces, 6-8 minutes for the small pieces. After cooking let cool for at least 15 minutes before building your house.

10. Make icing to use as glue for holding your gingerbread house together.

You will need:
2 large egg whites
2 2/3 cup powdered sugar, divided

Whisk together the egg whites and 1 1/3 cups of the powdered sugar by hand then add the remaining 1 1/3 cups of powdered sugar and use an electric mixer to beat icing on high speed until the icing is stiff.

11. Put together your gingerbread house – carefully – they are usually fragile.
12. Use candy, icing, and other decorations to make your gingerbread house beautiful!

Recipe from: www.simplyrecipes.com

If you make a gingerbread house this year, please let me know how it turns out.

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About the Author: Gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.