Is there any Christmas treat more magical than a gingerbread house? We loved them as kids, and while they’re definitely more fun to admire as children than to make as adults, when your gingerbread house is done it’s hard not to be mesmerized.
Plus, it puts a smile on your child’s face and a twinkle in their eye. What’s not to love about that?
So you’ve made your gingerbread house… now what do you do with it? Can gingerbread houses be eaten, or are they purely decorative? Also, do they spoil, and how long should you leave them out for?
We’ve probably sent you on a gingerbread spiral with all these questions (apologies) but luckily we have the answers for these questions!
So whether you’re building a gingerbread house this Christmas or want to know what to do if you receive one as a gift, we have all the information you need.
So, let’s answer that burning question: Can you eat a gingerbread house? Yes, you can! While people do make purely decorative gingerbread houses, generally they are edible and are made from edible parts.
After all, why would you let all that gingerbread and candy go to waste?
Gingerbread houses are pretty solid, though. The walls and roof need to be baked just enough that they can stand upright, which may not make them entirely pleasant to eat.
Still, the dough is edible as it is full of the same ingredients used to make regular gingerbread.
When making your own gingerbread house that you plan on digging into later, ensure that the texture of the gingerbread is good and that it tastes good too.
After all, constructing your gingerbread house is only half the fun. The other half of the fun comes with dismantling the house and enjoying the gingerbread!
On the point of them being hard, though, gingerbread houses are usually baked to withstand several weeks. This means tough floors, walls, roof, and windows.
A fragile, soft gingerbread house will be difficult to work with, and if you’re making a gingerbread house with your kids it might be difficult for them to be careful. A hard house is also less likely to droop – and nobody wants a droopy house!
So while you can eat a gingerbread house, the hard, tough gingerbread might be difficult to chew and not kind to your teeth or the roof of your mouth.
Softer gingerbread houses are easier to eat, and if you have a gingerbread house bought for you as a gift, you can test the hardness by softly pinching an exposed part of the gingerbread surface.
If you experience a little give, that means it’s softer than usual and more pleasant to eat.
The icing on gingerbread houses is also extremely tough, and this is because the icing is supposed to act as a glue keeping everything together. Chewing through the icing on a gingerbread house can feel like chewing hard candy.
The Origins Of Gingerbread Houses: Why Is Gingerbread Popular At Christmas?
Gingerbread is sweet bread that dates back years, with roots in many traditions, religions, classical Christmas decorations and even some fairy tales. However, the exact origins of gingerbread is unknown.
Gingerbread is traditionally made with cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, honey and, of course, ginger. These are ingredients that are common in many cultures, and there are records of honey cakes even being made in Ancient Rome.
Over time, gingerbread began to have more ties to religion, often being sold outside churches after Sunday service.
Gingerbread guilds also became popular, and for a time bakers enrolled in these guilds were the only ones permitted to bake gingerbread. However, at Christmas and Easter, gingerbread became for everyone again.
The gingerbread of yesteryear was decorated with a lot more than Christmas motifs like trees and Santa. In fact, gingerbread was used to tell stories, depicting biblical scenes and current events, and even portraits of monarchs.
It’s easy to see why it has gained a reputation for being such a decorative dessert!
Then the Brothers Grimm became associated with gingerbread thanks to the famous Hansel and Gretel fairy tale. Some believe this story is where the gingerbread house tradition started, but Brothers Grimm stories were based on existing folklore.
Plus, gingerbread houses were made and sold at markets and fairs long before Hansel and Gretel was published.
However, there is no denying that without the story, gingerbread houses would not be so well known, and the fairy tale created the image of the gingerbread house we know today.
Gingerbread houses and cookies became heavily associated with Christmas for its decorative potential, and gingerbread houses have been used as Christmas decorations even before baubles were invented.
We mentioned Easter earlier, but gingerbread at Easter hasn’t stuck. It’s unclear why, but it possibly has to do with the fact that Easter and Christmas are two very different holidays.
While both have their decorative elements (we still paint eggs on Easter, after all), Christmas is an extremely decorative holiday, perfect for gingerbread houses.
How To Take Your Gingerbread House From Good To Fabulous!
How do you take your gingerbread house to the next level? What truly takes a gingerbread house from good to fabulous is a bit of character. Hopefully these tips below will help you to do just that!
Think outside the box: A basic gingerbread house kit is a great foundation, giving you all that you need to build your house.
But you just need to get a little creative to transform simple designs into stunning gingerbread houses fit for the front window of any store at Christmas! Also, root around your kitchen for inspiration.
Even small additions can add a touch of pizzazz to your gingerbread house. Mini marshmallows, for example, can be used to create the illusion of snow, while candy canes can be used as front door decorations or porch supports.
Ribbon candy can be stuck together to make unique Christmas trees in the front yard, while stripped gum as shingles will give your gingerbread house a pastel makeover. For a rustic, log cabin-look, why not add pretzels?
Let there be light: You can add a little lighting to your house by making some lampposts. Just add a gum drop to a cake pop stick and viola!
Let it snow: Nothing screams Christmas than a layer of freshly fallen snow! You can create this for your gingerbread house with a sugar duster or sieve to sprinkle your gingerbread creation with confectioner’s sugar.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Make A Gingerbread House Using Frosting Or Hot Glue?
It all depends on if you want your gingerbread house to be decorative or edible. Using frosting makes the gingerbread house edible and is a lot of fun to use!
However, using hot glue makes the gingerbread house inedible. The parts that have been constructed using hot glue will not be able to be eaten.
However, making a gingerbread house with hot glue rather than frosting is quicker.
How Long Does A Gingerbread House Last? Can A Gingerbread House Spoil?
A gingerbread house tends to lose its flavor and become moldy after a month. Gingerbread is less moist than other baked goods like cake, and this prevents it from getting moldy straight away.
But it’s better to eat the gingerbread house sooner rather than later. If you want your gingerbread house to last until the new year, then that is totally possible, but you should definitely eat it before the end of January.
Is Gingerbread Edible For Dogs?
Animals find it more difficult to process sugar than we do, so we wouldn’t recommend feeding gingerbread to your dog. Plus, gingerbread often contains nutmeg, which can make your dog very sick.
Still, feeding your dog tiny pieces should be alright.
Generally, we recommend keeping your dog and other pets away from gingerbread. This includes keeping cats, rodents, rabbits, and birds away from gingerbread to be on the safe side.
Can Gingerbread Houses Get Dusty?
Yes, just like normal, less delicious houses, gingerbread houses can get dusty! Store-bought gingerbread houses are often kept in decorative packaging to prevent them from drying out, as well as keeping them clean until you’re ready to rip open the packaging.
This is also the case with gingerbread houses you’ve made at home. Once the gingerbread house is on display it will become exposed to air which will dry it out and accumulate dust.
So if you want to eat your gingerbread house, make sure to protect it with a loose covering of cling film over the top. It may still dry out a tad, but it will be protected from dust.