Main Content

Rubenstein Center Scholarship

How to Make Your Own Gingerbread Cottage

With Instructions From The White House in Gingerbread by Roland Mesnier with Mark Ramsdell

White House Historical Association

Gingerbread houses are such amazing (and delicious) outlets for creativity. I love to decorate cakes and cookies, and when I was given the chance to decorate a gingerbread house for the White House Historical Association I immediately said yes. The White House gingerbread houses are breathtaking each year. The passion put in to them inspires me to put that much passion in to all of my endeavors, whether they are baking, classes at American University, or my internship with Friendly Design Co.

For this gingerbread house I followed the steps in the book The White House in Gingerbread: Memories & Recipes by Chef Roland Mesnier with Chef Mark Ramsdell.

To begin, I made the gingerbread dough, then after chilling the dough, I rolled it out in to sheets. I then cut the shapes using the gingerbread cottage template in the Mesnier book.

Courtesy of Olivia Huffman

And I began to decorate. My first step was to use a knife to carve brick shapes out of the walls, and then I used a paintbrush to put powdered sugar in those lines to help them stand out.

In my experience, when you are decorating something, you can never have too much powdered sugar on hand. It goes in to royal icing, in to fondant, and is useful for almost every other detail as well. I then made the pattern on the roof with royal icing, and I began to work on the smaller details.

Courtesy of Olivia Huffman

The night before I had rolled out some white fondant and had painted it with a mix of powdered sugar, water, and blue food coloring. This gave the soon to be windows a nice blue color. I cut those out the next day and I attached them with royal icing.

I put Twizzler shutters, and decorated the windows more with white, green, and red royal icing. I put royal icing snowflakes around the front and back of the house, and I made a red fondant door for the front of the house. I used that red and green icing, as well as some sparkly sprinkles, to make the wreath on the front door as well as the decorations along the edge of the house.

Courtesy of Olivia Huffman

While all of this was setting, I took ice cream cones, rolled them in royal icing, and then rolled them in some fun sprinkles to make them look like trees.

The next day I put the house together, and propped it up using books and sprinkles containers and whatever else I could find to make sure it had the ability to dry. I woke up about twenty times throughout the night and ran out to check that the house had not somehow fallen over.

Coutresy of Olivia Huffman

The final touch came from icing the ground the house was on, letting some royal icing flow over the top of the house to look like snow, and use some thicker royal icing to simulate icicles.

Gingerbread houses are seen as scary or daunting to some people, but if you can bake cookies, you will be able to make a gingerbread house. Use your creativity, see what candies can become, and try to use random items from your pantry. In the end, no matter what it looks like, you will have something that was fun to make and that tastes delicious.

White House Historical Association