YOUR TURN! Betsy’s DIY Gingerbread Houses

Barbara Klein Your Turn! 30 Comments

Today is December 6 and in our parts of Europe we celebrate Santa Claus, an important day for children as Santa Claus comes home to families and either praises or scolds them for their past year’s behaviour, leaving small presents of tangerines and nuts when the children recite some Santa Claus verse.  Looking out of my window I see a few snow flakes slowly drifting down, a perfect setting for today’s post: please, welcome Betsy and enjoy learning from her  how wo make our own gingerbread houses.

I met Betsy at various places over the last two years and highly respect her for her insightful posts and comments, for being a doting mother of 9 children and her deep interest in genealogy and history. We have found that we share the same love for early morning hours when the house is all quiet.




Betsy Cross is a mother of 9 beautiful children, ages 4-25. She has been married for 26 years and has filled those years with art, music, writing, family history and baking gingerbread houses. She is the acting director of the Family History Center in Cataumet, Massachusetts, down the road from where she lives on Cape Cod.


Find Betsy on Facebook, Twitter or one of her 3 blogs: SilentleavesRemember and What If Today….?

And now get out your pencil, scissors, kitchen tools and all the ingredients needed and follow Betsy through her step by step recipe:

Gingerbread House Recipe

Combine in one bowl, all at once:
2 3/4 cups flour
3 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
1 t ginger
1/4 t ground cloves (optional)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2/3 cup molasses (Buy at Sam’s Club by the gallon. It’s cheaper.)
1/3 cup brown sugar

Press dough evenly onto well-oiled cookie sheet all the way to edges. Bake at 300° for 12-15 mins. or until touch leaves no impression. Use template pieces to cut out house pieces immediately. Remove from cookie sheet to counter to cool and harden. You can always stick the cut pieces back in the oven for a while to stiffen even if they’ve cooled.

Frosting “Cement” Recipe
3 egg whites
1/2 t cream of tartar
1 lb +/- confectioner’s sugar

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until fluffy. Slowly add in confectioner’s sugar until peanut butter-like consistency. Add water if too stiff, one drop at a time!



You get to make your own template because I’m too lazy to create a download! I use an empty cereal box. The measurements for the front are 7 1/2″ from base to the peak, and 3 1/4″ from base to bottom of roof. The base of the front is 5 1/2″, the measurements for the roof are 5″x 5 1/2″. The sides are 3 1/4″ tall x 4 1/2″ wide. (Just in case you couldn’t read my writing!)


sugar sugar

I had to buy Dove Chocolates instead of regular Christmas candy because there wasn’t any in the stores, yet! (Add candy canes.) Just make sure it’s festive and shiny! (Andes candies=shutters, Waffle pretzels=windows, gumdrops and spearmint leaves-trees and bushes)


cement icing

“Cement” icing. Store in the fridge in an airtight container. Should be the consistency of peanut butter.


DIY cement icing

I use a “star” tip and a regular tip (round hole) to decorate. Spread a layer of the “cement” on a 10″ cake round, OR a ceramic tile from a flooring store (ask for the discontinued tiles). You can sometimes get them for under $1 ea. Just make sure that you put felt tabs on the bottom corners to protect against scratches!


two sides up

Quickly pipe “cement”on the sides of a side and front, centering them in the fresh “cement”.


getting there

Repeat for other side and back.


and a chimney to keep you warm

Add roof, door and chimney. “Cement” both wrong sides of the two chimney pieces and connect to make it thicker.



Wrap in clear Cellophane. Make sure you cut a large enough piece so that there’s plenty on top, above the ribbon.

I have made these houses every year for about 30 years. They can be sprayed with shelac and kept indefinitely!

Remember, you can:

– bring one as a”White Elephant” gift
– or a hostess gift
– use one as a centerpiece
– sell them at a craft fair
– use them for your child’s teacher’s gift

One more idea: have a House Party where attendees pay to watch a house being mixed, baked, and put together. AND get a house (miniature) to decorate and take home with the recipe and template. (Sort of like a Pampered Chef party).


And now, get going,

make your own gingerbread houses

and share your experiences in word and pictures – thanks!

Comments 30

    1. @BetsyKCross No, no, the other way round: thank you, dear Betsy, for sharing your recipe with all of us! Plus a galore of tips! 
      I am baking for tonight’s Santa Claus dinner which we will celebrate with family and friends, without a visit by Santa Claus as there are no small children around. I still remember my then small daughter saying: This is not Santa, this is my uncle, he is wearing the same watch!

    1. @tandysinclair Believe me, I understand! But if you bake the gingerbread long enough it’s very hard and easy to work with. . I’ve taught classes and have had some disaters, but only when the dough is too soft.

  1. That is so very sweet! Betsy, reminds me of the Hansel and Gretel story where there was a house of chocolate to eat. As a child, I had some serious fantasies about that. This house looks good enough to eat! Thanks for the lovely tutorial. Tempted to try it.
    Dearest Barbara, how nice to see Betsy here. I enjoy her “What if…” posts so much!

    1. @Vidya Sury It is snowing and freezing cold in Switzerland, how much I would love to sit in the garden with you now,my dear friend!
      As a child I was afraid of the bad bad witch in Hänsel and Gretel and I would see her crooked finger in my nightmares. Later I realised that my grandmother also had a crooked finger because of arthritis and the nightmares stopped.
      Oh yes, I enjoy @BetsyKCross ‘ posts as well, we should have a #TeamBlogJack there!

    2. @Vidya Sury You CAN eat them. Loved Hansel and Gretel, too. Maybe that’s what I’m hoping to create for my children? You should see the jaw-dropping looks from the school children when we deliver them as teacher gifts. I want to give all the kids one! They really appreciate them.

    1. @KDillabough She certainly is, Kaarina. 
      During the night it has snowed and there is more in the air, I love that smell (cannot believe I have just written something positive about winter!) and the muffled sound, very peaceful. I wonder whether you have any snow yet and you are out in your snowshoes? Have a peaceful weekend, my dear friend!

      1. @Late_Bloomers We’ve had nothing but rain for the past few days, although it is trying to snow. We’re going out today to chop down our Christmas trees, decorating is a work in progress. I LOVE this time of year:)

        1. @KDillabough Christmas TREES, Kaarina? How many are you putting up? We buy our Christmas tree a week or two before Christmas, decorate and put it up for December 24. I remember my mother doing it behind closed doors (and YES, we did hear her swearing under her breath) when we were children. On January 6 the candles are lit for the last time, a very fragile situation as the needles have become very dry and prone to light fire very easily. I loved this the best with all the worried family members around ready to extinguish the never to happen fire!

        2. @Late_Bloomers Well, this year the boys went out on their own and came home with just one tree. In years past, our main tree was always over 15 feet in height, and we had a smaller one in our dining area. But it’s becoming more and more difficult to find the really tall trees (and they’ve become extremely expensive), so this year’s is just 10 feet tall.I start decorating tomorrow, as the aroma of fresh pine permeates the house today, and the boughs fall gently into place.We also used to leave the tree in place for as long as possible. Our record was Valentine’s Day one year! And we’ve never used candles (although that would be beautiful), and are vigilant about keeping the tree watered and safe. We wouldn’t keep it up beyond the time that it would be safe to do so.I will post photos, of course:)

        3. @KDillabough Wow! 15 feet, that tree would touch our ceiling! And to think we are proud of our room heights as only old houses have them! Does this mean you go out to a wood and cut down your own tree? What a great experience, unthinkable in Switzerland for safety reasons and insurance problems. 
          Mhhhhhm, I can smell the freshly cut pine now, wonderful. This fragrance is intensified by the warmth of the candle light (I think there is a pyroman hidden somewhere as I also love to light single pine needles and watch them burn, the flame suddenly coming alive when hitting the oil contained in the needle!).

    1. @rdopping You never want to experience what I build in real life except for gingerbread houses! I built a rabit cage once and they escaped and coyotes ate the two rabbits! I won’t LOL…

  2. Wow! I don’t know what impresses me more: the 9 children or the gingerbread house! It looks a bit complicated but my daughters want me to try. Tough being a parent!

    1. @JSJ2020 Hi, Muriel, both? And Betsy manages to convey the feeling that it is all easy! If I think that at one time I wanted to have 10 children (probably because my brother mostly ignored me or I did not get the attention from him that I craved), in the end I was highly challenged with my only daughter. 
      Take pictures when you make the gingerbread houses with your daughters and share them, will you? Or make a blog post?

  3. I have come across Betsy many times, but somehow haven’t been a regular reader of her blog. And she is in my trivet stream too! I read, but don’t comment…my bad. I will try being a regular commentator!
    This looks easy and tough at the same time, I am just worried that I am so bad in the kitchen that I will end up messing the whole thing. But I will give it a try after the exams!

    1. @Hajra  Thank you so much for stopping by, Hajra, do not start talking about comments, you will make me feel very bad. My online presence is down to an all time low, I simply do not have the energy with everything going on right now!
      I wish you luck with your exams and I am confident you will score high! And then you will have all the time to share your favourite recipe with us, yes?

      1. @Late_Bloomers tomorrow is the last one! And then I have a three week break and about a zillion books on my reading list! But yes, will submit my recipe soon!

  4. It’s so great to see Betsy here! I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of her recipes before. Yum! =) Love how the there’s a bit of architectural planning involved, and seeing all those ingredients and fun stuff come together! =)

  5. Hi Betsy, Hi Barbara!
    I missed the gingerbread-house-making with my kids but hope to do it with my grandchildren! Looks like so much fun – and so yummy!
    And no @rdopping I guess no architect is necessary, though if I were Betsy, I’d be challenging you to design a more – uh – complex structure 😮

    1. @Lori  @rdopping Lori, I’ve made large Victorians (turret room and all) and huge Colonials where I hide chocolate oranges by removing the roof. It’s so fun to design houses from scratch, working out angles, etc.

    2. @Lori  @rdopping Hi Lori!
      So did I! As soon as it becomes too delicate I will run away (oops, have I just given myself away?)!
      One more market tomorrow and then I will hopefully be able to catch up with everything … have a great weekend!

  6. A great gingerbread house project for little kids is to used graham crackers and caned frosting. Take two small, empty, milk cartons (like the ones kids would get in school) and glue them together. Viola, a frame to frost the graham crackers too.
    Kids can spend all their time on the fun, decorating stuff, and you don’t have to worry about the whole thing collapsing. My first grade teacher was a genius!

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