Karen Gordon: Gingerbread Haunted Victorian Mansions Can Be Fun and Tasty

Karen Gordon Offers Up To 10 Tips To Help You Build Your Halloween Gingerbread House

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A haunted Victorian gingerbread mansion, complete with a spooky tree, a resident ghost bride, tombstones, and even miniature meringue bones.
A haunted Victorian gingerbread mansion, complete with a spooky tree, a resident ghost bride, tombstones, and even miniature meringue bones. Photo by Karen Gordon /PNG

I have been obsessed with gingerbread houses since I first heard the story, Hansel and Gretel, from the Brothers Grimm. The idea of ​​an edible house is simply magical.

For Halloween, I decided to create a haunted Victorian gingerbread mansion, complete with a spooky tree, a resident ghost bride, tombstones, and even miniature meringue bones; all edible, yet a little creepier than the fairy tale version.

Building a gingerbread house from scratch is not something you do, spontaneously. It takes a bit of planning. If you’ve never built one before, it’s a lot of fun and a creative way to spend a couple of nights. Here are 10 tips to help you build your gingerbread house.


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1: Start early! If you are planning to build a haunted gingerbread house for Halloween, this weekend is a great time to start. For reference, this house and all the details, it took me about five days to complete.

2: You need a solid foundation! Not all gingerbread recipes are conducive to house building. To erect a structure, you need a building gingerbread dough that contains much more flour than your regular gingerbread cookie. While this recipe makes a tough and crunchy cookie, it is flavorful and delicious.

# 3: Print and cut out your gingerbread house pattern ahead of time. While it may look like you can “flap” and cut the dough on the fly, it is recommended that you print the template and cut it out to size before rolling out the dough. This will help ensure that your gingerbread house fits well after baking. Google “simple gingerbread house template” for ideas and inspirations.


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4: Roll out your dough on parchment paper, with an adjustable rolling pin. To prevent breakage, place the gingerbread dough on a large piece of well-floured parchment paper. Generously flour the top of the dough, then using an adjustable rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Lay your home pattern on the dough and, working with an exact knife or sharp kitchen knife, cut out the template. Then, with a pair of scissors, trim the parchment paper 2 inches from the dough. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet using the parchment paper as handles. Bake the dough with the attached parchment paper.

5: Use royal icing to keep your house upright. There is nothing worse than watching your gingerbread house slowly collapse. The royal icing, a mixture of powdered sugar, cream of tartar, and egg whites, beaten to a firm consistency, will help hold your house together. Since royal icing dries quickly, it is important that you cover it with a damp paper towel when you are not using it.


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6: Use a sturdy base. Before you begin assembling your gingerbread house, select a sturdy base such as a cardboard cake board or cutting board. The plates unfortunately do not perform well due to their slight concave profile. Whichever you choose, do not cover the base with aluminum foil as the aluminum foil can easily tear off the base. Always place your gingerbread house directly on the base.

7: Use a pipe bottle to create details. My favorite way to pipet is with a tubing bottle, fitted with a tubing tip, that I can hold and write like a pen. Using a piping bottle allows me to have better control when it comes to piping details in my gingerbread house.

8: Decorate the pieces before assembling the house. Gingerbread pieces are easier to decorate when they are flat. Go ahead and decorate the walls, ceiling, and any other structural pieces within ¼ ”of the edge. However, be careful not to overload the pieces with too much candy, as gravity will prevent them from standing upright during assembly. Let the pieces dry completely. Once dry, place an “L” on the base with royal icing. Place two walls of the gingerbread house directly into the frosting, then use a glass or two to help keep the walls upright. Allow to dry before repeating with the remaining walls. For additional support, apply a row of frosting to the exterior wall where the walls meet, as well as the interior wall. Allow all four walls to dry completely before adding the roof. To keep the roof from slipping, help hold them in place with a couple of glasses until the frosting is dry. Add a generous row of frosting where the top of the roof meets.


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9: If you use sugar glass for window panes, pour in the sugar on a dry day and no earlier than two days before displaying your creation. While the sugar glass is beautiful, it is quite delicate. Not only does it burn quickly in the microwave, it is also very susceptible to the environment. If it has been raining and there is moisture in the air, the sugar glass will start to cry in a day or two. The melted sugar will seep into the structure of your gingerbread and cause your house to weaken and collapse.

10: Let your imagination run wild when decorating your gingerbread house. For my haunted gingerbread house, I used sunflower seeds to roof the roof, black licorice yarn for the roof needles, shredded wheat for the grass, and bran flakes for the fallen leaves. Be creative! But whatever use you choose, be sure to put them in bowls ahead of time, for easy assembly.


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For more images of this haunted Halloweenscape, as well as templates and full instructions, visit karentology.com

Construction gingerbread recipe

2-1 / 2 tablespoons (32 g) shortening, room temperature

1/4 cup (86g) light or fancy molasses

1/8 cup plus 1 tablespoon (42 g) brown sugar

1-1 / 4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1 / 8 cups (135 g) all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1/8 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1-1 / 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

In a stand mixer, add the shortening, molasses, brown sugar, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy.

In another bowl, mix together the flour, cloves, allspice, ground ginger, cinnamon, and salt.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the shortening mixture, mixing until a dough forms.


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Divide the dough into 2 pieces. Working 1 piece at a time, on a well-floured parchment paper, roll out dough with a rolling pin until it is 1/8 ”thick.

Using a jig and exact knife or sharp kitchen knife, cut out the shape of the house plus the windows and doors. Remove the remnants of dough. Using scissors, cut the parchment paper 2 inches from the dough. Set aside and continue working on the rest of the pieces.

Repeat for the rest of the walls and ceiling.

Using the parchment paper as handles, lift and transfer the dough to a baking sheet, placing them 3 inches apart. Do not remove the parchment paper.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Working 1 pan at a time, transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until dark golden brown.


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Remove the tray from the oven and allow the pieces to cool slightly on the cookie sheet before placing them on a cooling rack to continue cooling.

Once cooled, store in an airtight container until ready to decorate. Decorate with Royal Icing.

For royal icing

2 large egg whites

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

3 cups powdered sugar

Add the egg whites to a mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until smooth and frothy. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar at a time and mix over low heat until the sugar is fully incorporated. Increase speed to high and beat until ice formation is very thick and forms stiff peaks. Transfer to a bottle or piping bag and use immediately.

Makes 1 simple gingerbread house

Karen Gordon is a North Vancouver food blogger who shares her recipe creations online at karentology.com and on Instagram at @ karen.t.ology



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