The Biggest Mistake You're Making With Your Gingerbread House

If part of your holiday plans this year involve constructing a gingerbread house, we have some news for you: you probably need to start now. At least, you need to start thinking about it now. According to one home baker at Lifehacker who thoroughly researched what it takes to pull off a respectable gingerbread house, the biggest mistake you can make is not planning in advance.

Mainly, you need to decide on a blueprint. Colette Peters of Colette's Cakes in New York told Lifehacker, "I think a simple house shape with straight sides is the best for a beginner. [Then,] you can definitely fancy it up with candies, cookies, and other treats." The design of your house determines what shapes you'll need to cut the gingerbread dough into before baking. And, to do that, your best bet is to sketch a true-to-size drawing and cut out stencils of each piece of the structure. Then, use those stencils to cut out your gingerbread shapes. 

This sounds intense but you are building a house, after all. Just know, if your structure doesn't turn out as sturdy as it should be, there's no shame in using reinforcements to prop up a wall or two. Apparently, a can of beans discreetly placed inside your gingerbread house works just fine.

Other things to consider when making a gingerbread house

Planning the design of your gingerbread house is one thing but you'll also want to carefully consider which gingerbread recipe you choose. Lifehacker suggests picking a recipe that takes only as much time as you're willing to give, as some can take up to five days. Five days! This New York Times recipe really does take that long when you count all the time the gingerbread is supposed to dry out at room temperature. Embark on a project like that at the last minute and you're just asking for a #ChristmasFail. Also, Lifehacker recommends constructing your house on a baking sheet or cutting board that will be easy to move later on.

Finally, make sure you have the proper materials and decorations on hand. Julia Moskin, who adapted that five-day gingerbread recipe for The New York Times told Lifehacker that royal icing is the only way to go. Though, some bakers would argue that dry caramel is the best bonding agent for gingerbread. However, dry caramel does not look like snow, as Moskin points out royal icing so conveniently does. That choice is up to you but if you do choose royal icing as your edible glue, make sure you allow plenty of time for it to dry. See? Again, it all comes down to planning in advance. Don't rush, make your plan, and enjoy what is sure to be your most successful gingerbread house yet.