Alternative colors and flavors for a gingerbread house (and other GBH advice)

I think I might actually try and make a gingerbread house this year, but not everybody likes gingerbread. As I understand it, gingerbread is really only used because it retains it’s shape when it bakes. Certainly there are other cookie formulations that do this. Also, if I can make different colors, I might be able to obtain some interesting decorations.

Also, if anyone has gingerbread house recommendations, I’d love to hear them. I know many people make gingerbread houses for decoration. My intent is to have one that is 100% edible, with the intent on eventually eating it.

There is no problem with many forms of structural gingerbread being edible. Mine is edible but seriously hard and gingery [so it is structural, and smells gingery for at least a week. I wouldn’t normally eat it, but it is all edible if soaked in coffee or milk to soften it up.]

I have made a gingerbread house out of sugar cubes sprayed red to look like bricks, with normal royal icing used as mortar, and slabs of structural gingerbread - decorated with all sorts of penny candies glued in place with royal icing. The roof was lift off-able, as they wanted to use it as a centerpiece cookie jar. Took about 3 years for the sugar cubes to fade. Marshmallows of varying sizes can make decent snowmen.

I remember making one out of white sugar cookie dough. There was some left, that Mom simply baked in rectangular pieces. They worked pretty well to make a house. And with the frosting, we could decorate them any way we wanted (we made a house that resembled our house).

The gingerbread structures I’ve made are completely edible but the gingerbread is so firm that it would not be especially palatable. But they will last for a long time if kept in a dry environment. Here’s a link to a story about one I participated in making.

Do you have a recipe yet? I’d recomment the one I use, from the book Gingerbread Things to Make and Bake, by Teresa Layman and Barbara Morgenroth. There is no leavening in the recipe so pieces don’t swell out of shape hardly at all, and impressions made in the surface of it remain. By experimentation I discovered that varying the recipe can change the color. To get a lighter color use plain corn syrup instead of honey, or to get a darker color use dark syrup or molasses. White sugar will also vary the color, or darker brown sugar.

If you need a rounded area on your house, use Rice Krispie treat material covered in fondant. My sister and I worked it out for ourselves, but then we saw the competitors on Food Network Challenges doing the same thing, so maybe we’d seen it there but forgotten about it.

I’ve made a dollhouse, a Russian style church, a Gothic cathdral, the castle of Cair Paravel, a medeival Norweigain stavekirke, plus a variety of other structures. It takes a lot of time, but it’s fun.

Sorry to go on so long, but it’s something I’ve enjoyed doing. I bake for a living, but making these are for fun, not for profit.

My friends and I make houses out of graham crackers every year, with royal icing and candy. Completely edible and fun to make, just not the most beautiful things :slight_smile:

Do people usually eat their houses? Royal icing is so hard once it sets…

What about shortbread?

I have a Mirro gingerbread house cake pan like this one: It’s at least 50 years old, as it was my mother’s, and comes with the recipe booklet. Pour in the cake mix and bake it, and you’ve got a cake. Then decorate it! They’re not too hard to find. As a matter of fact, I have two of them, because I bought a second one at an antique mall a couple of years ago. You can make white cake, yellow cake, carrot cake . . . why, the possibilities are endless! Hey, I haven’t had breakfast yet . . .

One of the Easter traditions in Catalonia consists of chocolate sculptures, which can get enormously elaborate. While I don’t think there is any Baker’s Guild which has official competitions, it’s certainly viewed as an occasion for bakers to show off; I have seen things like reproductions of the Sagrada Familia, Pedrera or Hospital de Sant Pau as tall as a man and made to scale (they got sold in pieces, by weight). Meltable chocolate could be a good material to make parts with specific shapes.

Oh, and just as a throwaway piece of data of why I had this notion: in Spanish, the house in Hansel and Gretel is made of chocolate.

I have made many gingerbread houses, and although they are completely edible, after a couple of weeks they’re pretty disgusting.

If you want to use other types of cookie, I suggest making a cardboard “frame” for the house as support. Basically, cut out cardboard pieces for the larger sections (main walls and roof) and masking-tape them together to form the frame, then use royal icing to “glue” the cookie walls to the cardboard. It will add strength and support to the house structure.

  • Necco wafers make great roof shingles.

  • Hershey bars are perfect for shutters as they come pre-formed in rectangles. Depending upon the size of your house, you can use 1, 2, 3 or more rectangles to form the right size shutters.

  • “Fun-size” Snickers (or similar size bars) are great for building steps; Jolly Ranchers make great bricks and come in colors.

I suggest putting your licorice floor joists 16" on center and going with R-30 frosting.

Actually, a good mousse has a higher R-value. The icing, though, is excellent for winter decoration on the roof. (Don’t forget to insulate the roof!)

Why insulate? To conserve the heat of the chocolate fountain inside, of course! You’ll also need some thermal mass for heat storage; I suggest rock candy or another treat without a porous structure. Place it inside the insulation. Now your gingerbread men can dip themselves in chocolate to their hearts’ content.

In my experience, no. I consider that to be a fundamental problem. The house shouldn’t just be edible on a technicality. Play Doh is edible. How is that any different from frosting too hardened to eat?

The gingerbread houses of fairytails aren’t just edible, they are eaten. If I want to make a structure that isn’t meant to be eaten, I’ll use plaster and clay.

FTR, I consider fondant to be an offense to cake. Even my two year old sets it aside.

Half a Vienna Finger for the door.

Crushed up jolly ranchers placed on parchment in a warm oven melt to form cool stained glass windows.

The next time I see the acronym GBH I’m going to think Gingerbread House.