National Gingerbread House Day: Wow your family, friends with elevated holiday creation

Local, award-winning gingerbread expert shares elevated techniques

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Kenda DeFord won the “Best Traditional” Gingerbread House during last year’s annual Jacksonville Historical Society’s Gingerbread Extravaganza.

DeFord joined us on The Morning Show for National Gingerbread House Day to share her techniques and recipes.

Don’t forget to check out this year’s Gingerbread Extravaganza which features more than 50 gingerbread creations by artists and creators — plus holiday displays, a train display, bake shop, gift shop and more.

It runs from Dec. 8 through Dec. 27 at the Old St. Andrew’s Church in Downtown Jacksonville.

Ticket prices are as listed: Adults (age 12+) $11; Children (4-11) $5; Under 4 Free -Seniors (65+) $7; Military $7. Groups of 10 or more are asked to call (904)665-0064.

You can find a full schedule and ticket information here.

Gingerbread Recipe


  • 5 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 7 oz vegetable shortening
  • ¾ cup + 1tsp sugar
  • 16 oz unsulphured molasses
  • 1 large egg


  1. Mix egg, shortening, sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt until creamy
  2. Slowly add flour
  3. Wrap dough into parchment paper, making a roll
  4. Refrigerate for 2 hours
  5. Cut off amount needed for cookie size and roll to ¼ inch thickness.
  6. Bake at 300 degrees until firm to touch

Royal Icing Recipe


  • 1 lb powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp meringue powder
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • ¼ cup + 1 tbsp water at approximately room temperature (add ½ to 1 tbsp additional as needed to thin)


  1. Mix in bowl with electric mixer until all ingredients are incorporated. Do not over-mix.


(for clear windows)


  • Isomalt crystals (1 lb bag or larger)
  • Distilled water (Very important - any water that has minerals in it will affect result)


  1. You need a metal saucepan (cannot be glass). Do not use wooden utensils.
  2. Place pan on eye or burner smaller than bottom of pan.
  3. Pour isomalt into pan.
  4. Add just enough water to make it look like wet sand.
  5. Slowly heat until a candy thermometer reaches 330 degrees (mix will resemble clear boiling water).
  6. Immediately remove from stove and place pan into a shallow bowl of ice water. Temperature should peak at about 334 degrees. Remove pan from water when cracking or popping noises stop.
  7. Let sit in oven warmed to 275 degrees for 10 minutes until perfectly clear.
  8. Ready to use.