How to make a gingerbread house


There are many fairy-tales in Germany. One is called "Hänsel and Gretel" and is about two children (sister and brother) who are brought into a forest by their cruel parents. The parents leave them alone in the forest and hope they would die. But they do not die, but find a house made of Gingerbread and candy. The owner of the house is a witch. (The rest of the fairy-tale is not so important now, just be sure there is a happy end...)

In Germany it is a long tradition that people bake such a gingerbread house, the "witch's house", somewhere around Christmas. Now a days it is nearly forgotten, because it is much work and the people are too lazy to make it. But my father taught me to bake it and since I am 16 years old I do it every Christmas. In some years it was even a small competition between my friends and me: Many people made a witch's house and others determine the best one. Whereas we made ordinary houses or huts from the Gingerbread in the first years, we make more complicated buildings now. There was a soccer stadium, the World Trade Center of New  York (with a Gingerbread airplane crashing into it...), an Asian temple, a Circus, a nuclear power plant... You can find photos of many gingerbread houses here.

In 2007 I made a gingerbread model of the Cathedral of Münster, my hometown at that time. I want to demonstrate how to make it by some pictures:

Here you see all ingredients. All in all I used for this house: 1250 g flour ("Weizenmehl"), 930 g sugar ("Zucker", half white, half brown sugar), 625 g butter, 5 eggs, 45 g spices (cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, etc...).

The ingredients are put into a bowl and mixed to obtain a solid dough. It should be stored in the fridge overnight then.

   

Now the dough is rolled out and the pieces that are needed for the building are cut out. It must be planned and measured in advance. This is the design and architectural part of the work... Then the pieces are baked in the oven.

   

Now the parts of the building are "bonded" together with a mixture of powdered sugar and high concentrated or even freshly pressed lemon juice. The most difficult part is the roof...

   

But finally the house is complete (I hope you can recognize it is a church!) and it is covered with chocolate. I choose dark chocolate for the ground, normal chocolate for the roof and white chocolate for the walls. On the picture you already see the first pieces of candy bonded to the covered walls.

   

Finally all of the house is decorated with sweets and candy. In my opinion it should be as much candy and as colourful as possible, but in this point everybody is creative in a different way. On this house I counted 436 pieces of candy...

   

On the last picture you can see the small figures. The witch, Hänsel and Gretel and a small cat. These figures are older than me, very rare these days in Germany. I am proud to have them! So I can go on with this great tradition in the future.

By the way: It was really delicious. Not much is left after my friends came to my home to eat it with me.