Gingerbread has been a traditional Christmas decoration for generations. My kids and I have enjoyed making gingerbread houses together for years, from basic graham cracker creations to more complicated designs. But this is the most complicated one we have ever made, a Gingerbread Noah’s Ark!
Noah’s Ark isn’t really a Christmas themed design, but it worked for us! We started out by sketching out a design and drawing pattern pieces for all the parts. Then we made gingerbread, lots and lots of gingerbread.
We have learned from previous gingerbread houses that it is much easier to roll the dough right on the cookie sheets, so you don’t have to move big pieces. Since most of our cookie sheets have rims we actually rolled the dough out on the bottom of the cookie sheets, and then cut around our pattern pieces with a knife. We just stuck the cookie sheets in the oven upside down.
Another way we ensure a good fit is always recutting the patterns after the gingerbread comes out of the oven. The dough will spread slightly during cooking, so if you put the pattern pieces back on the warm gingerbread trim the edges the design will fit together much better.
Decorating the house before it is put together is also important! It is much easier to decorate the pieces when they are flat. We used all kinds of candy, including gumdrops, peppermints, M&Ms and some special kinds for the theme, like gummy fish to place in the water.
I had a bunch of animal cookie cutters, so we used those, making sure we made at least 2 of each animal. We used sugar cookie dough for the animals, since they were completely covered in frosting and we were sick of gingerbread by then. The kids also wanted to include a few unicorns frolicking on the shore!
The design is constructed in a basic rectangular shape. There is a hidden gingerbread base that supports the boat deck, and the sides of the ship are attached to the deck.
It took quite a few days to make the Ark. It is important to let the Royal Icing harden completely in between all the steps, so things don’t all apart! So one day we did all the baking, and then another day we decorated all the pieces. We let them dry overnight, and then assembled the boat. We let the boat harden overnight too, and on the final day we put everything together on a foil covered piece of cardboard. It all held together well, and we were able to move it to the bookshelf in our living room.
We used basic Gingerbread and Royal Icing recipes from Food.com. Since we aren’t planning to eat it we were more concerned with a recipe that would be easy to work with, and this fit the bill. We made 3 batches of gingerbread to get all the pieces made.
This was a fun Holiday project, and we had a blast making it. But next year I think we will stick to something a little less complicated for a gingerbread creation!