Tiny Gingerbread Houses

Tiny Gingerbread Houses

Tiny Gingerbread Houses

Christmas came early this year. The amazing smell of cinnamon and winter spices has already taken over our whole apartment and awaken our holiday spirits. Our cookie jars are almost full and it’s only the beginning of December! Christmas may still be weeks away, but it sure feels like one around here.

Tiny Gingerbread House on a Mug

For once, I managed to get ahead of my holiday baking. I usually leave everything for the last minute and stress about whether I’ll make it on time. Having an extremely active toddler that happens to be sick most of the time (she somehow picks up all sorts of weird viruses and diseases at her kindergarten), I realized I have to get organized and get started really early if I wanted to get everything done. This includes midnight baking and lack of sleep, but I’m used to it. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are one of the perks of motherhood.

Tiny Gingerbread  Village

I usually make edible Christmas tree ornaments. When the lights warm up, the tree smells like one giant gingerbread cookie. It makes everything just a bit more special. This year, I thought I’d make some edible ornaments to decorate the apartment for Advent, as well. Making gingerbread houses seemed like a natural thing to do. I knew I’d have to stretch the work to several days, since I can only work at night after the baby has fallen asleep. This was actually great because it allowed the pieces to dry completely in between the different phases of building the houses. We ate some of the houses, and saved the rest to create a tiny gingerbread village as part of our holiday decoration.

I used the same dough to make a batch of Christmas cookies and ornaments, as well as some super cute reindeer cookies for my daughter. I smile every time I open the cookie box and see those red noses. I decorated them with tempered chocolate and royal icing that I’ve colored with some red food coloring. You could also use red m&m’s and glue them onto the cookies with some melted chocolate.

Reindeer Gingerbread Cookies

And then, life got in the way. Dalia got sick, which translates to four sleepless nights and five exhausting days. It soon became clear that my edible centerpiece will not be done in time. I wanted to make a big gingerbread house surrounded by snow, trees and reindeer, but getting some sleep became a priority. Luckily, I went to Ikea couple of weeks earlier and saw their gingerbread house kits. I decided to buy one and use it as a back up in case something went wrong with my house. Plan B. Always have a plan B when small children are involved. The Ikea kit consists of naked gingerbread walls. You have to make your own royal icing, decorate the pieces and glue them together. Building the house was still quite time consuming, but at least it saved me one huge step.

Ikea Gingerbread House

All is well that ends well. Just a quick look at my tiny snow-covered gingerbread village makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Oh, and did I mention that the the apartment smells divine?

Tiny Gingerbread Houses

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Tiny Gingerbread Houses

Makes 15 houses or 45 cookies
Prep time: + dough chilling time
Cook time:
Total time: + drying time
Difficulty: Intermediate

Category: Cookies
These tiny gingerbread houses will sit on the edge of your mug, which is a great way to serve tea (or mulled wine) and cookies during the holidays. The idea and template for the houses was taken from Not Martha. You can download the PDF pattern for the house pieces here. The template includes two door pieces you can choose from, one approximately 1 cm wide and one about 1.3 cm wide. I found that the wider door fitted most of my mugs. I suggest you cut both door pieces out of cardstock and try them on your mugs. The one that slides easily onto the edge of your mug and has a little wiggle room is the width you want for your door. This recipe will make about 15 tiny houses, but you can easily make less houses and use the rest of the dough to make gingerbread cookies. The dough is very versatile. You can also make one big gingerbread house, but you will have to double the recipe for the dough. The amount of royal icing in this recipe should be more than enough for you to decorate and glue a big house, so you don’t have to make a bigger batch.
For the gingerbread:
Ingredients
300g flour
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
100g butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp honey
1 egg
Directions
In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Add butter cut into small pieces and work it into the dry ingredients using your fingertips. When the mixture resembles bread crumbs, add honey and egg and knead with your hands until you get a smooth dough. If the dough sticks to your hands, add a bit more flour. If it's too dry, add a few drops of cold water until you get a smooth dough.
Divide the dough in half, wrap each peace in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Take the dough out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before rolling it. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one half of the dough to a 2-3 mm thickness. The cookies will puff up in the oven so try to roll the dough as thinly as you can. Using a template, cut the pieces from the dough using a small pizza cutter or a pairing knife. Instead of picking up the small pieces, peel the excess dough from around the house pieces. Run a thin palette knife under each piece and carefully transfer to a baking sheet so that they don't distort. Gather the excess dough together, roll it out again and cut the pieces from it. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
Put the baking sheets into the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes before baking. This will keep the gingerbread from spreading too much. Bake for 8-10 minutes. As soon as the cookies start to get some color around the edges, take them out of the oven and trim any pieces that have puffed or spread too much while they're still hot. Cool the cookies completely before assembling the houses.
For the royal icing:
Ingredients
1 large egg white
220-330g powdered sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
Directions
Beat the egg white in the bowl of your standing mixer just until it starts to froth. Turn the speed to low and gradually add powdered sugar and vinegar until you get a thick and smooth icing. How much sugar you will need depends on the size of your egg white. If the icing seems to thick to pipe, add a little bit of cold water to thin it out. If it seems too runny, add more powdered sugar until you get the desired consistency. For the purpose of gluing the houses together and decorating them, you will need quite a thick batch of icing. Transfer the icing to a piping bag and start to assemble the gingerbread houses.
Assembly
Ingredients
edible sugar decorations (snowflakes, hearts…)
powdered sugar
Directions
I recommend that you decorate the roofs (and walls, if you wish) before assembling the houses. Once you're done with the decorations, let the pieces dry for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. Now you're ready for the assembly.
Group the matching gingerbread house pieces together. You should have two walls, two roofs and two pieces with doors. Make sure that both of the doors are the same width, otherwise the house won't sit on the rim of your mug. Start gluing the pieces together. Take one piece with a door slot and pipe a thin vertical line of royal icing on both edges (on the inner side). Take the walls and glue them onto the royal icing, making sure they are at a 90° angle. Now, take the other piece with the door, pipe royal icing on both edges (like you did with the first one) and set it against the walls. Hold it together tightly for a few seconds and then let it dry for 5 minutes before you add the roof. Make sure that the wall pieces are to be sandwiched on the inside of the door pieces, that way the roof fits on properly. Now pipe some royal icing all around the the top of the house and carefully set both roof pieces on it. Hold it in place for a few seconds and then pipe some snow on the rooftop and around it to create the illusion of snow. Set the house aside to dry. Continue with the rest of the pieces.
The houses will probably be dry in a couple of hours (depending on the humidity), but I recommend that you let them dry overnight. Once dry, store them in an airtight container and serve with warm milk, tea or mulled wine. You could dust them with some powdered sugar to create the illusion of fresh snow.

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