Haunted Gingerbread House Template
Here's a question for you. Which cultural and religious festival is celebrated on December 25th? If your answer was Christmas, you are correct. Who doesn't know about Christmas, right? Christmas trees, wreaths, mistletoe, Santa Claus, and Christmas stockings are some elements of Christmas traditions. Yummy food, family time, and gifts also add to the beauty of Christmas.
Christmas to Remember
Did we forget any unique traditions? We did? Gingerbread houses! Of course. Our apologies. These delicious houses with cookies on walls decorated with icing and foil are a memorable part of the Christmas traditions.
Making gingerbread houses makes family members spend quality time together, strengthening the love and bond among them. There's only one critical rule in gingerbread house making, which adds to the fun. That is, all the materials used should be edible. So except for the decorative lights, the rest of the gingerbread house uses candy, cookies, and all sweet, good things in life. The freedom to do whatever they want lets the creativity of the family members and friends run free!
In addition, the younger ones get to improve their motor skills by participating in this Christmas tradition.
Rocking Christmas in Style
Since I was six years old, I've made gingerbread houses for Christmas with my family and friends. But it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I got into the haunted gingerbread house game. Making gingerbread houses always gave me a chance to explore my creativity. So making a haunted gingerbread house was only natural, given my love for all things Halloween and Christmas.
A haunted gingerbread house is a perfect mix of my favorite festivals. So when we decided to do our Halloween photo shoot at the historic and allegedly haunted Lemp Mansion here in St. Louis, I instantly knew I had to venture into haunted gingerbread house territory again. My challenge this time was to make a miniature gingerbread replica of this famous St. Louis landmark and create a haunted gingerbread house template. So all you Halloween and Christmas-loving Smarties can make your own tiny Lemp Mansion gingerbread house!
Use These Tips To Become An Expert Gingerbread House Baker
Making a gingerbread house can be daunting to some of you, but it doesn't have to be so. There are a few tips and tricks you can employ that will ensure you have a successful endeavor:
- Precision: Make sure your pattern is accurate and that when you bake each piece, you trim it back down to size when you bring it out of the oven. Why is trimming necessary? Because the baking process will inevitably cause some expansion. The easiest way to minimize that is to add more flour to your dough.
- Trimming the gingerbread pieces as soon as they come out of the oven while still soft will be easier than after they've cooled. If they've already cooled, use a serrated knife and a sawing motion to avoid accidental breakage. Don't attempt to remove any freshly baked pieces until they've completely cooled.
- When creating your cutouts (before baking), it can be easier to roll out the dough on the cookie sheet you plan to bake and remove the trimmings rather than rolling it out on another surface and attempting to transfer them to the cookie sheet. My favorite tool is a silicone baking mat. I can roll out the dough on it, make my cuts, remove the trimmings, and then pick the whole thing up and place it on the cookie sheet. You can probably achieve the same effect with wax paper.
- Do not use regular, pre-prepared icing to decorate your gingerbread house. The bread can absorb the moisture from the icing and become unstable. Instead, opt for a more solid royal icing that dries quickly. It's easy to make, and I'll give you a recipe below for you who don't have a royal icing recipe.
Mixing up a traditional gingerbread dough recipe is time-consuming. In a conventional gingerbread dough recipe, the dough must be refrigerated for a couple of hours, if not overnight. So here's a quicker and easier gingerbread dough recipe you can use when you don't have that time.
The ingredients needed for the dough:
- 3 rolls of pre-made sugar cookie dough
- 2 cups of flour
- 1/3 cup dark molasses
What you need to make the royal icing:
- 3 ounces of egg whites
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 4 cups confectioner's sugar
Here's a suggestion for you; if you're decorating the cookies for children, pregnant women, or anyone with compromised immune systems, use meringue powder, found in the baking aisle of most markets, instead of raw egg whites.
Time to Bake
Let's get started with the recipe.
First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. That would be 662 Fahrenheit.
Let the three rolls of cookie dough warm up to room temperature, then break them apart in a large bowl. Then add the molasses and start kneading the dough. Gradually add flour as you knead until all the flour has been evenly incorporated into the dough. If the dough has been kneaded properly, it will be somewhat solid, and the color will be evenly brown. Transfer the dough to a rolling mat or any other appropriate rolling utensil, and roll out the dough to approximately 1/8 of an inch. After the dough is rolled out to the correct consistency, you can cut out your pattern. For how many minutes do you need to bake? Bake smaller pieces for approximately 6-8 minutes and larger samples for about 8-12 minutes.
To prepare the quick-dry royal icing, thoroughly mix the egg whites and vanilla. After the two ingredients have been appropriately combined, gradually add the confectioners' sugar and continue beating until the mixture is shiny. After achieving the shine, turn the speed up to high and beat until there are stiff, glossy peaks. Voilà!
Quick-dry royal icing! Use the thicker consistency to outline the pattern. When the outlines are dry, use the thinner consistency (you will notice fewer peaks and a comparatively runny consistency) to "flood" for a smooth, solid look, similar to what we used for the windows below. You can use water to thin the icing if it gets too thick.