Thank you, thank you, thank you x a million for all the gingerbread house love this month. When I made my first gingerbread house/greenhouse last year, I didn’t expect so many readers to actually make their own greenhouse this year! You guys used the very low-quality budget diagram I drew, found gelatin sheets, and cut your gingerbread panels oh so carefully to make your own version of the greenhouse. I loved seeing each and every one of them! I saved all the gingerbread greenhouse photos I was tagged in on Instagram and proudly made an album on my phone for the photos. Thank you for making my holiday!
At the beginning of December this year, I knew I wanted to make another special gingerbread house. I didn’t feel like I had to “top” the one from last year — I just wanted to make one that was different enough from the original but still had the similar vibe. What better way to elevate a gingerbread house than giving it a second floor and a few piped decorations like wreaths and garlands.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that making this year’s house was a whole journey. It wasn’t a journey because it was significantly more difficult than last year’s template (the steps were basically the same), and it wasn’t because I had to mix additional colours of icing for the decorations… it was because I made the entire gingerbread mansion and then proceeded to drop the house on the floor. If you want to relive my entire nightmare, I saved it to my Instagram Highlights for your entertainment. Shortly after I shared the news, my inbox was flooded with DMs from you guys lamenting the death of the house that took an all nighter to complete. I stood there in shock for a minute (that felt like an eternity) staring at all the pieces of gingerbread across my kitchen floor in disbelief what just happened. Surprisingly, I started on house 2.0 within an hour of breaking the first one and the second gingerbread house turned out even better than the first. The piping was cleaner, garlands were neater, and the house was much sturdier. I’m not going to say that dropping the first house was blessing in disguise, but I will say that I’m much prouder of the new one.
I’m not sharing a new recipe or step-by-step tutorial because the majority of it remains the same. The largest difference is in the measurements which you see in the diagram I drew before starting the construction. You can revisit last year’s post to find the instructions for constructing a gingerbread greenhouse, and I will use this opportunity to answer some FAQs on gingerbread house making instead!
What did you use for the windows?
I used gelatin sheets! I considered using isomalt to create the ‘glass’ of the windows but really liked how light the gelatine sheets are. They’re also very easy to work with.
How did you get the diamond pattern on the “glass”?
Gelatin sheets come with a diamond pattern!
Where did you buy your gelatin sheets?
I bought my sheets from a local specialty kitchen store, Gourmet Warehouse, but you can purchase sheets from several online retailers. Or Amazon.
My gelatin sheets kept curving and peeling. How did yours stick?
Gelatin sheets start to warp when in contact with liquids, so I used a much drier royal icing (more powdered sugar) to attach my gelatin sheets to the back of the windows. To assemble the panels of the house, you want a wetter/looser royal icing that is like honey in consistency.
How do you prevent your dough from spreading during the baking process?
You want to use a dough that doesn’t spread much (gingerbread or shortbread) and make sure your dough is extremely chilled before you bake it. After I cut and shaped each panel of the house, I froze the panel on a baking sheet until completely firm.
Why did you decorate the panels before assembling?
I prefer to decorate on a flat surface than at an angle! It’s much easier to pipe straight and even lines if you are working on a flat surface. You don’t have to do it this way but I highly recommend it.
How long do you have to wait before your move your house after assembly?
This is where I went wrong with my first house that I dropped. I only let it dry 2 hours before lifting it and it clearly did not fully set. I would recommend waiting at least 4 -5 hours, preferably overnight, before you move it.
If you have any additional questions that I missed, please leave them in the comments!