Making gingerbread houses

Discussion in 'Baking with Children' started by kad613, Jun 20, 2013.

  1. kad613

    kad613 Member

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    I was thinking back to when the my children and nieces and nephews were younger and we made gingerbread houses together. Parents baked the pieces and the children did the decoration and sticking together. We had bowls of different types candies for decorations and the icing sugar was made to stick them together. It was really fun for them and amazing watching future artists creating these houses. The key was letting them use their imaginations.

    I think this is something that can be done on any day, not just Christmas. They can even use large graham crackers instead of gingerbread and have Thanksgiving or Easter themes. Would work for birthday parties as well, and keep the kids busy for hours. Have you children made gingerbread houses?
     
    kad613, Jun 20, 2013
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  2. kad613

    passingcat Well-Known Member

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    We have never made a gingerbread house, but my daughter used to love baking gingerbread men! It sounds far more challenging to make a house, and is something I will keep in mind for the future! It sounds like you can really be creative with the decoration and produce a work of art! :)
     
    passingcat, Jun 20, 2013
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  3. kad613

    Soliloquy Well-Known Member

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    This was actually how I earned money to buy my first PC computer when I was 16! I had a mold for the gingerbread house walls and roof, so we made some from chocolate and baked some gingerbread, then decorated with all sorts of candy. Necco wafers for the shingles, candy canes across the top of the roof, leaf-shaped spearmint gumdrops for the bushes in front. It was fun, and I had many repeat orders the next year.

    One of these years, my family intends to enter one of those gingerbread house competitions the magazines hold.
     
    Soliloquy, Jun 20, 2013
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    cefmac and Mayvin like this.
  4. kad613

    passingcat Well-Known Member

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    What a lovely creative way to earn some money! There was a really beautiful gingerbread house in my local bakery recently, that looked too good to eat! Children find gingerbread houses enchanting! I have bought gingerbread house sweet jars for both my children when they were younger.
     
    passingcat, Jun 23, 2013
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  5. kad613

    Babble64 Well-Known Member

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    I had never thought of making gingerbread houses other than at Christmas time but I absolutely agree! We've actually only made gingerbread houses once at home but it was the MOST fun! The kids helped me shop for the candy decorations beforehand which was exciting for them. I used my own gingerbread recipe and cut out the patterns from paper templates. And we made the most beautiful creations! I absolutely loved it! I don't know why I never made them without the kids!

    I've also made gingerbread houses from graham crackers with kids in a school setting. We used cardboard mini milk cartons as a base so it was more for decoration. (I think we used canned frosting, not the icing that hardens, so it wouldn't hold together as well.) Either way, though, it's just fun for the kids to create!! They have the best ideas!!!
     
    Babble64, Jun 27, 2013
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  6. kad613

    Jezebella Active Member

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    I want to warn those of you thinking of doing a gingerbread house. It is far harder than I assumed it would be. I'm not saying it wasn't worth it, but it was very difficult. The pieces didn't want to stick together, and it fell apart at least twice before I figured it out. The key thing that I learned when doing the gingerbread house was to shave the pieces flat on their edges after they cook. When they cook they can get a little wonky.
     
    Jezebella, Jul 3, 2013
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  7. kad613

    cefmac Well-Known Member

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    I've never tried making a gingerbread house as it looks really tricky - although maybe I'm just being a wuss. If kids can do it, then I should really man up and give it a go myself! I'm assuming there are plenty of readily available templates online, which would make it easier.
     
    cefmac, Jul 24, 2013
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  8. kad613

    LadyLuck7 Well-Known Member

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    I have always wanted to make a gingerbread house. I think it would be great to use other themes besides just christmas themes. I should be thrown out of my kitchen for not thinking about how much fun the kids would have making such a treat. I like the idea of using the graham crackers too.
     
    LadyLuck7, Aug 1, 2013
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  9. kad613

    Mayvin Well-Known Member

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    That's great that you were able to make enough money to get your self a computer! I can imagine a really well made gingerbread house is in demand for many people especially around the holidays.
     
    Mayvin, Aug 2, 2013
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  10. kad613

    Shellyann36 Well-Known Member

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    When my older boys were young making a gingerbread house at Christmas time was a tradition. I really need to start that back up with my little ones! This year will be the perfect year for it too. I have seen a haunted house gingerbread house (really graham crackers) before somewhere. I think it was on Pinterest. Very interesting idea. I have never really thought about it for Easter or Thanksgiving though. Could be an interesting idea and a new family tradition. I think I will try the graham cracker halloween house this year with the kiddos.
     
    Shellyann36, Aug 2, 2013
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  11. kad613

    ACSAPA Well-Known Member

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    It's really impressive that you were enterprising enough to use your baking skills to buy yourself a computer at age 16. Those must have been some houses.
     
    ACSAPA, Aug 4, 2013
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  12. kad613

    Soliloquy Well-Known Member

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    I have to say the houses I made were much better looking then the ones available at the local supermarkets. Those were very simple, with only a few pieces of candy and simple piping, yet they were charging much more than I charged. I promptly raised my prices and still had repeat orders, so I know the buyers enjoyed them :)
     
    Soliloquy, Aug 4, 2013
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  13. kad613

    ACSAPA Well-Known Member

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    That's really cool. There's something charming about a teen having her own baking business. It would be nice if more teens had positive hobbies like this today. When I was a teen in foster care, I made jewelry, I decorated t-shirts, I made little dollhouse type displays based on people's hobbies and I made a couple of Halloween costumes for money.

    I'm still into making things for money, but I run into hiccups.
    I had an eBay bidder last week who won 6 of my auctions and didn't pay.
    That's the downside of trying to have a small business.
     
    ACSAPA, Aug 4, 2013
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    Soliloquy likes this.
  14. kad613

    NThomas Well-Known Member

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    Ginger Bread houses are a great project for children all year around. In the winter you can make you a traditional ginger bread house. During the fall you can make spooky fun house from ginger bread houses. In the spring and summer you may want to try a ginger bread bird house or spring cottage. I find that no matter the season kid love making ginger bread houses.

    If the children are too young to work with real ginger bred graham crackers are a cheap and easy alterative.
     
    NThomas, Sep 12, 2013
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  15. kad613

    Soliloquy Well-Known Member

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    By the way, when it comes to the difficulty of building gingerbread houses, here's what I learned (the hard way!):

    1. Invest in some meringue powder for the royal icing. This is both because it's more hygienic and also because you need to control the moisture. You want your royal icing to be on the dry side so it will stick better, and if you use egg whites it will be runnier.
    2. After you join the sides together with royal icing, have something available to prop them up and hold them steady until the frosting stiffens enough that it stands on its own. Reinforce the frosting on the inside as well.
    3. Let the base dry before you attempt to put on the roof.
    4. Many candies will absorb water from the frosting, melt, and fall off. This is especially true for traditional hard candies like candy canes or peppermint swirls. Make sure these are essentially cradled in the frosting so they can't fall down. (Candy canes lying on the peak of the roof pillowed in the frosting aren't going to fall down, but a candy cane stuck to it vertically might.) Gumdrops generally stick very well.
    5. You might want to start by making a few chocolate houses if you're a beginner. The chocolate tends to hold together better (although you should still drip melted chocolate down the insides of the seams to reinforce them).
     
    Soliloquy, Sep 17, 2013
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  16. kad613

    ignite77 Member

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    I tried making this with my little ones and it came out a big runny mess. I'll be setting the house over night in the future and just letting them decorate it with all of Soliloquy's tips. Thank you so much for them! It will make things much easier.
     
    ignite77, Nov 14, 2013
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  17. kad613

    KC Evans Member

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    I have been looking for arts and crafts ideas for the kids this holiday. Last year we made cookies. This year ginger bread houses sound like a good idea. I am going to look up recipes and different ideas real soon, I want to prepare early. They should be surprised and happy.

    Thanks for the idea
    !:)
     
    KC Evans, Nov 14, 2013
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  18. kad613

    TABL Well-Known Member

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    I bought a kit for the house and used my own candies for the decorations. I think it's a good alternative- I've never been able to get the gingerbread the right size and shape.
     
    TABL, Nov 15, 2013
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  19. kad613

    MyDigitalpoint Well-Known Member

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    Gingerbread houses and gingerbread men are part of my yearly Christmas decoration, but done all by myself.

    I never thought to get other family members helping, as it was never a home tradition bake these cookies and get children assembling the houses.

    Gingerbread cookies came into my own tradition through a German magazine from where I picked the idea more than a decade ago.
     
    MyDigitalpoint, Nov 16, 2013
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  20. kad613

    Josie Well-Known Member

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    We're such huge failures at gingerbread houses here lol. it's usually a gingerbread pile of rubble when we're done but yummmmmmmmm gingerbread rubblllllllllle :p
     
    Josie, Nov 18, 2013
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