(Gluten-Free Family Life) Gingerbread House Tradition
Elizabeth Carroll

photographs, Elizabeth Carroll

December 18, 2012

Editor's Note from Elizabeth Barbone:


Elizabeth submitted her story on how to make gingerbread houses before the tragedy happened in Connecticut. It was supposed to run last week (Friday, actually). But it didn't feel right to run such a fun piece in light of what was happening. 

Right now, you might be looking for projects to work on with your children. This gingerbread house is a great one. It takes some time (read: gives you time to laugh and talk and assuage the fears they might have.) and in the end you're left with a cute little house that makes your Christmas even brighter. 

Peace and love to you. 




Gluten-Free Gingerbread House Fun

I found Elizabeth Barbone's first edition of Easy Gluten Free Baking, when on a search seven years ago for a way to make delicious, gluten-free Christmas cookies for my recently diagnosed daughter and the rest of our family. Each year, we bake cookies from her book, and, sometimes, try new things.  

It is just within the past two years, that I was brave enough to attempt a gluten-free gingerbread house. We had made gluten-free gingerbread cookies, but the thought of cutting house shapes and assembling a house with my own icing was intimidating! I envisioned disappointed children after many hours of trying. But, we decided to try, after a talk with the kids where I set expectations very low!

In the end, what ended up working was Elizabeth's recipe for Gingerbread Men/Women, but with some variations. The recipe is prepared the same way through chilling the dough. When the dough is chilled, I roll it out on rice-flour covered parchment paper to ¼ to ½ inch thick. Then I use a pizza cutter to cut the shapes for the house -- four sides and two roof pieces. My house is small -- about 6 inches tall, 4 inches wide, and 6 inches long. To make a larger house, you may want to double or triple the gingerbread recipe, using any extra for gingerbread cookies. I have kept it simple so far, but perhaps I will become a bit more adventurous over time. There are many free gingerbread house templates available on-line.

Baking is where the house recipe varies from making gingerbread cookies. Essentially, you are making gingerbread bricks -- they need to be as hard as a rock so that the house won't fall apart. When cool, the house is ready to assemble.  

Royal icing is used to “glue” the gingerbread house together. Many call for egg white, so a decision is in order whether to use uncooked eggs in the frosting, use pasteurized uncooked eggs in the frosting, or use a substitute for the eggs. (editor's note: here's a recipe that uses meringue powder.) Of course, each family should make its own decisions. I try to bake with pasteurized eggs for that extra measure of safety with children. I hold the base of the house together for a while, maybe 20 minutes (good to be doing something else at the same time), then I tie it with kitchen twine for further stability and drying. Once the base is dry, I put the roof on, again holding it on for a while. We typically wait until the following day to decorate it and then let the kids enjoy!

I would love to hear about and maybe see pictures or links to your gingerbread homes! Do you have tips to share? It is my dream to one day enter a gluten-free gingerbread house competition -- all I need is time, skill, and nerve!



For a gingerbread house step-by-step, click here! 

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