gingerbread house from scratch!


one of the best things the boy brought into our marriage is a candy thermometer.

last december, ian suggested we make gingerbread houses one night. i thought – great! i’ll get graham crackers and icing and candy at the store and we’ll make some kind of lame looking “houses.” nooooot what ian had in mind. you see, in his family growing up, gingerbread houses were made completely from scratch. including special “snow” icing that creates perfect icicles from the roof and stained glass windows made from sugar and corn syrup.

i fell even more in love with the boy as i watched him use patterns his mom provided to strategically cut around our rolled out homemade gingerbread batter, carefully monitor the candy thermometer in boiling sugar, check for the firmness of peaks in the whipped “snow” and expertly drape it over the roof. the whole process took a lot of time and a lot of dish washing, but i absolutely loved the whole process and decided we are definitely doing it every christmastime!

this year it was even more of a labour of love because it necessitated a trip to the american food store on the other side of london (for the karo corn syrup and crisco shortening), but we had such a fun time on sunday baking, boiling, draping and decorating. and i still can’t get over the fact that you can make stained glass windows from sugar and corn syrup!

next year i’ll try to remember to take photos of all the steps and publish the whole recipe here, but for today here are just a few shots of our creation…

it all started like this:
and became this after we added the windows and glued it together with sugar:
and then we decorated with british candies:
and then made the snow (stiffly beaten egg whites combined with sugar heated to the “softball” stage):
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and added some finishing touches! next year i want to make the yard a bit more elaborate!
can you tell by all these photos that i was pretty proud of our little cozy cottage?!
last night i bought some little electric tea lights to put inside the house so the windows glowed…
notice anything a little off about the roof of the house?…
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…we tried sticking a spoon in the house to keep the roof from completely caving in, but here’s what we found when we woke up in the morning…:
and when i came home from an errand a little later on this morning…
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so sad! we must have cooked the gingerbread too perfectly (gooey and moist!) – combine that with the humidity here in london compared to where this recipe has been made in the past … next year we are planning to burn it pretty bad so it’s nice and hard – haha! we’ll keep the house around for a while yet, just to enjoy all but the roof :) and then comes the boy’s favourite part – eating all the candy off!

it’s so fun to combine the family traditions we had growing up, and start new ones of our own as well. we are both pretty giddy about christmastime and our little flat that now smells so good and feels so cheery (even though the ornaments haven’t made it on the tree yet!).


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  2. Awesome. My kids were sad I forgot windows this year.

  3. What a fun tradition. I love the stained "glass" windows and that you even put tea lights inside the house so it looks all lit up. So pretty. Sorry your roof caved in...but on the bright side, it will be a memory you will always have of your first Christmas in London together. :) Your tree is really pretty too.
    Lisa in WA

  4. This is wonderful. I adore the stained glass windows and snowy roof. My husband brought the gingerbread house tradition into our marriage, as well. Our first gingerbread house, believe it or not, was a small Salt Lake City Temple with an accompanying outhouse, with a half moon shaped window in the outhouse door...ha! I was once again reminded that I had married the right guy for me--ha! 31 years later, I still have the original pattern of the Temple and outhouse that he sketched out to use. Happy days!

  5. Wow, the gingerbread house looks amazing!

    I love how you decorated it with Haribos, Dolly Mixtures & chocolate buttons.:)

    Even tho I looked at the pix of the gingerbread house, what I also noticed was the advent calendar that Ian's Mum made. It's fantastic. Do you know if she has a pattern for it please or is there a link for where I could buy it from please?

  6. Wow Charity. You are really becoming beautiful. You two are really something!

  7. Looks so fun! I have found that melted jolly ranchers serve as amazing stained glass windows--they're so colorful and easy to make! I'm not sure if they're available in the UK--but that might save you guys some time (and some dishes!) next year :)

  8. Incredible! The roof is the perfect ending! Makes such a great story!

  9. Oh man! I have, up until this year, been the man in Charity's Christmas formula, and while it is a bit bittersweet, I happily yield to the Great Gingerbread House Maker Ian!

  10. Oh man, between the gingerbread house (and teaching her kids how to do it!!!) and the advent calendar, I have to say that Ian's mom amazes me! That's exactly the kind of Mom I want to be.

  11. That is the most legit gingerbread house I've ever seen! Looks like you two had a blast making it, what a bummer that the roof collapsed! Merry Christmas!

  12. Wondering if you'd be willing to share the recipes and patterns? I would love to try this with our kids.

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  14. We made gingerbread houses every year we lived in Northern Europe and every year it yielded to the humidity and collapsed (home made and store bought varieties alike!). If you find out a trick to making it last more than a week, I would love to know it! Our record was around 10 days before it started giving way.

    Looks great!

  15. The windows are a wonderful touch. My grandmother had a recipe that made very "crispy" gingerbread. That helped to keep things from falling apart. If I remember correctly, she also froze it before decorating it, that kept the icing and such from absorbing into the gingerbread and making it soft, and the decorations seem to stick better.

    Christie Goodwin @ Window Enhancements LLC