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Are you looking for holiday crafts for kids? Try a gingerbread house!
It's me, Cub Reporter Perry Bear. Making a gingerbread house with a mold and melted bark coating is so easy, even a teddy bear can do it!
Well, maybe a kid can do it, with a little help from grown-ups with the parts that require sharp knives and the microwave.
Here's what you'll need to make a gingerbread house.
1. Bake the Pieces
The day before you want to make your house, you'll need to bake the pieces. Let the pieces rest overnight after they are baked so they will become stiff and strong.
Follow the instructions given for Gingerbread House Dough. For a basic gingerbread house, you will need two roof pieces, two side pieces, and two front/back pieces.
Gingerbread House MoldForm the pieces in one of two ways: using a gingerbread house mold pan, or by making a cardboard template and rolling and cutting the dough.
Gingerbread house molds are heavy pans that form all the pieces you need to make a house. They are very easy to use, and have nice details which bake into the dough. Press the dough hard into the greased mold, then bake as recommended.
Let the pieces cool completely before taking them out of the pan. Lay them out on a wire rack, a cookie sheet or on waxed paper overnight.
Gingerbread House MoldIf you don't have a pan, you can make your house by rolling and cutting the dough with a template. A template is a pattern for the gingerbread house pieces. You can print them from our site or make one yourself. You'll need 2 straight side walls, 2 pointed front and back walls, and two roof pieces.
Work a handful of dough until it is flexible, then use a rolling pin to smooth the dough into a 3/8th-inch thick circle. Put the template on the dough and cut around it with a sharp knife. Be careful not to cut your paw! Gently move the cut-out pieces to a cookie sheet. Bake until they are firm and gently browned. Cool overnight before making your house.
2. Select a Base
Where will you build your gingerbread house? You can make it on a large plate, or a tray.
You can make a base out of cardboard, by covering cardboard squares with gift wrap, aluminum foil, or freezer paper. Use two sheets of cardboard to make the base nice and strong.
Make sure your base is large enough for your house, and for decorations like trees or snow or candy cane signs. A jelly roll pan makes a good base with lots of room for decorations.
3. Melt the Bark Coating
Candy MeltsYou'll use melted bark coating or candy melts to glue the house pieces together. To make your bark coating, have an adult use a knife to chop Almond Bark or bark coating bars into smaller pieces.
Fill a squeeze bottle half-way with the chopped bark coating or candy melts. Ask an adult to microwave the bark coating for one minute. Take the bottle out of the microwave, and squeeze and squish the bark inside. Keep microwaving and squeezing until all the candy is melted.
As you work with the squeeze bottle, the bark coating may cool and become harder to use. Put it back in the microwave for 30 seconds to warm and
soften the bark coating.
4. Assemble the Gingerbread House
Squeeze BottlesTime to build your house! As a first step, ask an adult to use a knife to trim any bumpy edges on your gingerbread house pieces. The pieces will fit better if they are smooth.
Starting with one side wall, squeeze a line of melted bark coating on the base. Make the line as long as the wall, then stand the wall in the coating.
Have a helper hold the wall upright while you add one of the front or back pieces. Squeeze a line of bark coating where the front/back piece will stand, then add a line of bark coating along the edge of the side wall, where the walls will touch. Settle the front/back piece gently into the bark coating. Hold the pieces for 3 minutes, until they stay upright without help.
Next, add the remaining side and front/back walls the same way: by squirting a line of bark coating on the base and on the sides of each piece, and gently standing them into place. When all four walls are standing, add more bark coating to any corner that has a gap or a hole. Let the walls rest for 3 to 5 minutes before you add the roof.
Roofs are tricky! Squeeze a generous line of bark coating along all the upper edges of the walls. Add a line of bark coating along the top edge of one of the roof pieces, and set the roof gently in place. Ask a helper to hold the first roof piece while you add the second. Add extra bark coating to the top where the roof pieces meet, and hold the roof on until the bark coating hardens.
5. Decorate the Gingerbread House
You did it! The gingerbread house has been built, and is ready to decorate. Use your imagination to add candy and color to your house.
Dots of bark coating anchor rows of candies to the roof to make shingles. Line up a row of gumdrops along the top of the roof.
Candy canes can stand alongside corners of the house. Use a small red candy for a doorknob, or add a green candy wreath to the front door.
Make icicles by squirting a little puddle of bark coating on the edge of the roof and pulling down sharply with the squeeze bottle. An "icicle" will drip down.
Use square candies as window shutters, or add "snow" to the corners of windows and doors. Shake colored sugar over fresh melted bark coating to decorate roof or walls. You will know what to do to make a pretty house.
6. Finishing Touches
When your house is finished, decorate the rest of your base or tray. Spread coating on the base in the form of a little path to the door, then add colored sugar for a pathway.
Shake mini-marshmallows over the surface of the base to make "snow". Stand a small candy cane upright in a gumdrop, and glue it to the tray with bark coating. It can hold a tiny paper sign with your name.