Hogwarts: The Gingerbread House
How to make your own gingerbread Hogwarts
Supplies and Tools
See the recipes for more ingredients.
- Electric mixer
- Pastry bags and decorator's tips
- Foam-core or plywood for the platform
- Board for the castle to sit on
- Supports for the platform -- wood, etc
- Aluminum foil
- Nails or duct tape, for assembling the platform
- Heavy paper or light cardboard for the model
- Tape to assemble the model
- Regular paper for the patterns
- Gingerbread dough (recipe below)
- Icing (recipe below)
- Round cookies for towers
- Candy for decorating
- Food coloring
Devote at least three days, probably more, to this project: one for design and models, one for baking the gingerbread, and one or more for decorating and assembling. Remember that the icing takes time to dry! Get assistants. It took over 35 total hours of work time to make our castle, and that would be a bit overwhelming for a single person.
- Make your floorplan. First decide on the finished size of your castle, then draw up a map from an overhead view. I based my plan on this excellent map by Quentin Lowagi. For my castle I multiplied the size of the map by 6. I also changed a few details. Depending on the size and time commitment you want to make, you may want to simplify some of the details.
- Make your hill. Before you can make the model you need to make something for it to stand on. You could make just the castle and ignore the cliffs, but there are still a couple of parts at different levels to make. I made my platforms to hold the castle out of many empty upside-down quart-size yogurt containers topped with foam-core cardboard. For a more sturdy construction, you could make it out of wood. Cover the surface that will have edibles on it with aluminum foil.
- Make a model of your design out of heavyweight paper or light cardboard. During this phase I used many reference photos from the films to get the heights and angles right. Look at the movie galleries at Veritaserum for some good shots of the castle.
- Take apart the model and make pattern pieces. I know, terribly depressing after you spent all that time on the model, but it will look so much cooler in gingerbread! Remember that you don't have to make every single thing out of gingerbread. And be sure to take into account the thickness of the gingerbread in the sizes of the pieces. I made all the towers out of stacked round cookies and candies, and the tops of the towers out of ice cream cones. This way you get out of trying to bake curved pieces. Cut the pattern pieces out of paper. As you make them, number each piece (for more efficiency make a single pattern for duplicate pieces, labelling it with multiple numbers). Write the piece's numbers on the floor plan where they will go; this is absolutely essential to ever being able to correctly assemble your castle.
- Make the gingerbread. The recipe is below. I needed a little over one batch for the size of castle I made.
- Roll out the gingerbread and cut out the pieces. Lay the pattern pieces on the rolled out gingerbread and cut around them with a knife. As you cut out the pieces, carve the number into each piece with a toothpick. Bake the gingerbread.
- Make some icing. I ended up using a total of six batches (!) of icing. You can color some of it with food coloring to do decorations.
- Decorate. Organize the pieces by areas of the castle and know which are roofs and which are walls to keep the design making sense. Use your imagination! Some ideas: cover sections with lines or lattices or dots of colored icing. Stick on M&Ms, jelly beans, or candy canes. Use chocolate kisses for the tops of tiny towers. Use Fruit by the Foot or other fruit leather type candy to add wide bands of color. Licorice allsorts are also great to stick everywhere for texture. And wafer cookies are useful for filling gaps and making small rectangular details. I used them for the greenhouses.
- Assemble the castle. Use icing in a pastry bag with a large tip to pipe icing onto the edges of the pieces, and stick them where they need to go. Make towers out of stacks of cookies like Oreos, and small towers out of round candy. When you're done you can pipe over the seams again to make them look nicer.
- Decorate again, adding things on the peaks of roofs and over seams.
- Make your landscape. If you're feeling less insane than me, you could make cliffs out of crumpled paper and use fabric for the slope at the back of the castle. If you want to make the landscape edible too, you can make cliffs out of cookies or chocolate, and marshmallows are great for snowy slopes behind the castle.
- After the everyone's seen your Hogwarts, invite some people over to eat it. You could make a whole Harry Potter-themed party out of the affair!
By Lisa Lane, published in the Christian Science Monitor
- 1 cup butter
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups molasses
- 3 eggs
- 8 to 9 cups flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons each cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg
Cream butter until light and fluffy, 7 to 10 minutes. Add brown sugar and molasses. Beat in eggs. In a separate bowl mix together dry ingredients.
Add 7 cups dry mixture, 1 cup at a time, to butter mixture. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead in remaining flour mixture. Dough should lose its shiny texture but retain elasticity. Cover and set aside.
Divide dough and roll out. Cut out pattern pieces. For large pieces, roll out directly on a floured cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes.
Adapted from recipe by Lisa Lane, published in the Christian Science Monitor
- 1 pound confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3 egg whites
- 1 tsp vanilla or other flavoring (optional, but makes it taste better)
Mix together sugar and cream of tartar. Gradually add egg whites. Beat at high speed 7 to 10 minutes. Icing should be stiff but not dry. Keep the icing covered or it will dry out.
Do not double recipe. If more icing is needed, make another batch.