Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a gingerbread house right? And if you are Coeliac or gluten intolerant, then it needs to be a Gluten Free Gingerbread house.
In the world of gingerbread estate agency, a gluten free gingerbread house is a rare and valuable thing. And it seems that at this time of year, the shops are filled with kits for the most beautifully decorated houses accompanied by gingerbread men, dogs, stars, tree gardens and even sleighs, but there is very little to tempt either Coeliac children or their parents. If anything, we hurry our intolerant children (and ourselves) past the colourful, tinsel-adorned displays as quickly as possible, for fear of tantrum and meltdown.
The answer? Build your own! And trust me… it’s way easier than you think and it will be guaranteed to bring fun and smiles to the whole family twice! In this post, I will help you learn how to make that all-elusive gluten free gingerbread house (fun #1). How you choose to eat it (fun #2) is up to you. Smash and grab; pick off the sweets first; dismantle biscuit by biscuit… it’s yours for the taking!
A Gluten Free Gingerbread House – How we got into house-building
So frustrated and miserable were we with Christmas gingerbread house disappointment back in 2014 (after 4 Coeliac years of putting up with a distinct lack of gingery housing stock), that at GFHQ we took matters into our own hands. At the time Miss GF was still only 9, but more than ready to learn the art of house-building.
Whilst well aware that most of the invitingly-boxed glutenous houses you see in the shops contain perfectly crisp, already cut gingerbread biscuits, plus sweets and icing ready to construct into your own magical, colourful Hansel and Gretel-style cottage, it was clear that if we wanted our own gingerbread real estate, we would have to go it alone. Sadly, even 5 years on from my original post, googling ‘gluten free gingerbread’ offers nothing for Coeliac-safe no-bake, ready to build houses. It’s a simple case of having to get your bowls and spoons out!
Back in 2014, I was lucky enough to win a Lakeland gingerbread house cutter set after making Halloween Cake Pop Spiders which I shared with a bloggers link-up called the Family Foodies Challenge. It seems that moment was serendipitous…
Until then, I had not even dared to replicate the home-baked Christmas gingerbread experience, only too aware that construction required cookies which were sturdy and hard wearing and definitely not the likely crumbly outcome Santa would destroy as soon as he set foot on the chimney.
Winning the cutter kit gave me the boot up the backside I needed to ‘get over it’ and rise to the challenge of making a gluten free gingerbread house to rival the best of the glutenous architecture on the housing market and taste as good, if not better. My little girl would miss out no longer!
Architectural development – the gingerbread new build
Perfecting the basic gingerbread recipe for our stately home was a little less straight forward than planned. I’m no architect and getting a biscuit that was robust enough to stand, dry enough to last and spiced enough to deliver Christmas to the tongue, eventually took three attempts. Interestingly though, the final version didn’t require any ‘special’ extra flours, but instead worked perfectly with my bog-standard Gluten Free Alchemist flour mix A (which you will find at the end of my gluten free flours and flour blends page).
Putting the house together was pretty easy, although we needed two pairs of hands to hold the bits in place until the icing had set enough to take the weight of the biscuits. We struggled with the biscuit chimney a little, as the sides didn’t quite come together well enough, so we ditched that bit and improvised with a pretty marshmallow instead.
The spare pieces of chimney biscuit became an impromptu sleigh… My daughter had the genius idea of using two candy canes for the runners and left over biscuit for the seat. Once decorated, it really looked the part and I think is one of the cutest bits of the scene. Unfortunately, the only chocolate reindeer I could find were Lindt, which contains ‘no-go’ glutenous barley malt extract, so we made do with a pair of Scottie dogs…
This achievement was no mean feat. It was a two to three day construction job (by my reckoning, that’s about twice as long as the average new-build), which means a quality finish.
Home-Improvement – decorating our gluten free gingerbread house
Decorating the gingerbread house was a blast!… Inventive, fun, and perfectly set up for creative family time. Because our house was not from an ingredients kit, we had to cobble together plenty of colourful gluten free fairy tale sweets to adorn its rafters and grounds.
Amazingly, Miss GF managed to find various stashes of sweets that she had hidden around the house which were ideal to complete our home-improvements. With a sprinkling of meringue to create the snowy winter experience, the planting of a few gingerbread Christmas trees in the garden, the laying of a path and oodles of glittery sparkles later, we had the perfect gluten free gingerbread house… all ready for Christmas Eve… I reckon Santa would have got quite a surprise!
The end result was something to be proud of… Miss GF enjoyed every shared minute, from mixing the dough, to eating the spare bits straight from the oven, helping to stick the walls together, and decorating our new property (even if it did mean giving up her precious sweets!).
The Art of Demolition – a gingerbread house devoured
It took a while to be persuaded that this gluten free work of art was, in all honesty, just food and with a heavy heart demolition began. It turns out the architecture was built to last and (as with all great buildings) probably would have stood for many centuries, had it not been smashed with a hammer and shared amongst guests.
Despite being sturdy, the biscuits had an amazing snap and were in no way tough, but instead had a melt in the mouth, comforting, creamy texture. The flavour was gingery warm, with a nice hit of seasonal cinnamon.
The smell of the gingerbread was pungently inviting… the addictive aroma that is so unique to the rich, dark, spiced molasses sweetness expected from a good gingerbread bake. Job done! And happy to stick two fingers up at all those tempting glutenous gingerbread offerings in the shops… Who needs gluten with a gingerbread house this special?
Tools of the Trade – Special gingerbread house equipment
To make a gluten free gingerbread house, is not difficult, providing you have either the ability to be creative and cut your own house templates (I don’t!) or you have a gingerbread house cutter set. The cutter set that I used was one from Lakeland and was given to me back in 2014. The exact one sadly no longer exists, but Lakeland do still make a smaller version (complete with reindeer, sleigh and gingerbread man cutter). Link below.
For a house of a similar size to the one we made, I found a Kaishane cutter set which looks like it’s pretty cool. And I’ve also been coveting a kit made by Gracelaza, which size-wise is somewhere between the two. All three can be found on Amazon UK (see below).
If making the ginger biscuits from scratch still fills you with trepidation, I also came across a Lakeland gluten free gingerbread house complete with ingredients (just add butter, syrup and water), which is also dairy free, although does have a ‘may contain’ warning for soya, milk and nuts. It would make a fantastic stocking filler for Christmas holiday baking, if you don’t have time to go all-out before the big day!
And if you don’t want to make your own Royal Icing (for gluing the whole thing together), I’m pretty sure you can buy it in a tub now from the supermarket.
My Amazon Picks (AD) :
Other ginger Recipes Perfect for the Season :
- Winter Ginger & Pear Trifle (Gluten Free Alchemist)
- Dark & Sticky Jamaican Ginger Cake (Gluten Free Alchemist)
- Gingerbread Ice Cream (From The Larder)
- German Gingerbread Cookies (Lebkuchen) (Gluten Free Alchemist)
- Lemon, Ginger & Dark Chocolate Tart (Gluten Free Alchemist)
- Sticky Ginger & Whiskey Cake (From The Larder)
- Ginger Cookies/Biscuits (Gluten Free Alchemist)
- Rhubarb & Ginger Crumble Cake (Glutarama)
- No Bake Stem Ginger Cheesecake (Jo’s Kitchen Larder) (sub base for GF ginger biscuits)
- Gingerbread Stuffing (Gluten Free Alchemist)
- Gingery Parsnip Soup with Spicy Roasted Chickpeas (Yumsome)
- Lemon & Ginger Flapjacks (Sew White)
- Gingerbread Fudge (Little Sunny Kitchen)
- Spiced Gingerbread Granola (Little Sunny Kitchen)
Gluten Free Gingerbread House
- Kitchen scales
- Mixing bowls
- electric whisk
- silicon/wooden spoon/spatula
- teaspoon measure
- baking paper/clingfilm
- Rolling Pin
- cookie cutter kit/ templates and sharp knife
- baking trays
- piping bag and small nozzle
- cake board/tray
- children (for more fun)
Gingerbread (for house and several extra figures/trees)
- 360 g unsalted butter/dairy free alternative softened
- 200 g soft light brown sugar
- 80 g molasses
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 500 g plain gluten free flour mix I used Gluten Free Alchemist home-mix A (see website)
- 3 tsp xanthan gum
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 4 tsp ground ginger powder
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 200 g icing sugar (powdered/confectioners sugar) You may need a little more, dependent on the size of your egg white
- ½ tsp cream of tartar
- 1 large egg white
- sweets, edible glitter, writing icing, sprinkles
Gingerbread pieces and figures
- Cream together the butter and brown sugar with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy.
- Add the molasses and vanilla and whisk again until fully blended.
- Add one egg at a time and whisk each until fully combined.
- In a separate bowl (or airtight container), weigh and mix together the flour, xanthan gum, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt, making sure any lumps are completely broken down.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until evenly combined.
- Transfer the biscuit dough to a large piece of baking paper and use the paper to wrap the dough well (use a large piece of cling film as a second layer to hold together and seal if needed).
- Refrigerate the dough for an hour or so, to firm up.
- Line three or four baking sheets with baking paper (if you don't have this number, then just bake the biscuit pieces in two batches). Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- Cut off about a third of the cold biscuit dough and on a well-floured surface (with a sprinkling of flour on top of the dough also), roll to a thickness of about ½ cm / ¼ inch.
- Use your cookie cutters to cut template pieces according to the instructions provided by the manufacturer, and place carefully on the lined baking trays (try to keep larger pieces together and smaller pieces on a separate tray, so that you can remove the smaller pieces from the oven earlier if necessary).
- Chill the cut biscuit dough pieces for about 30 minutes in the fridge (or 10 minutes in the freezer), before placing in the oven.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, swapping the trays around part-way through to ensure an even bake.
- Turn the oven down to 170 C/325 F/Gas 3 and continue to bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes, keeping a very close eye to ensure the biscuit does not burn. Be patient. The larger pieces take quite a while to bake and dry out enough to get a crisp bite and benefit from a slow drying process in the oven. If concerned the oven is too hot, then turn down a further and leave slightly longer.
- Repeat this process until all the biscuit pieces are cut and baked. If possible, when the baking process is complete, turn off the oven and then place the trays back inside, allowing to cool with the oven (at this stage, you can place the pieces closer together to try and get them all in the oven at once).
- Weigh and mix together the icing sugar and cream of tartar in a bowl.
- Add the egg white and beat with an electric whisk until smooth, glossy and thick. The icing should be stiff enough to hold its shape very firmly. If it isn't, add a further spoon of icing sugar and beat again.
- Using a piping bag with a small nozzle, pipe icing piece by piece, along each edge to be secured and gradually construct the house, holding each join together firmly and squarely to allow to stick and harden. If necessary use a selection of glasses or anything else you have to hand to 'prop' and hold together whilst the icing dries. Make sure that you cover any remaining icing with cling film (close to the icing surface) whilst you are waiting for the next stage, to ensure it remains usable.
- Once the house is sturdy, use the remaining icing to decorate the house and any characters and to stick windows, doors, sweets, etc to the gingerbread.
Shared with :
- Cook Blog Share with Lost In Food
- Baking Crumbs with Jo’s Kitchen Larder and Apply To Face Blog
- Fiesta Friday #302 with Angie and Spades, Spatulas & Spoons
- Your Whims Wednesday #433 with My Girlish Whims
This post was originally published on 11.12.2014 and updated on 16.11.2019
Previously Shared (2014) with : Family Foodies (Bangers & Mash and Eat Your Veg); Alphabakes with Caroline Makes and The More Than Occasional Baker; Cook, Blog Share with Lucy at Supergolden Bakes; Recipe of the Week with Emily at A Mummy Too; Treat Petite with The Baking Explorer and Cakeyboi
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