Eilean Donan Castle in Gingerbread

Eileen Donan Castle in Gingerbread

One of my favorite castles. One of my favorite cookies. One of my favorite activities. All in one! My gingerbread castle recipe and how I constructed it!

Playing with gingerbread and creating cool scenes is something that I look forward to doing around the holidays. This year I decided to make Eileen Donan Castle, which is in Scotland.

I used to live in Scotland and waited for 23 years for a chance to go back. That chance finally came in August of this year. Even though I lived there for 3 yearsand tried to get out to see as much as possible, I never made it over to the northwest side of Loch Ness. Now I regret that so much! This recent trip convinced me that this area is my absolute favorite part of Scotland!

Eilean Donan Castle is near Kyle of Lochalsh, about an hours’ drive from Invergarry on the shores of Loch Ness. The only problem is that it took me about 4 hours to get there once I left Invergarry. I kept stopping to look at the awe-inspiring Highland scenery and walk or hike a little into the hills. 

This castle is one of the most recognizable castles in Scotland. It has been used to film movies and TV shows and is just iconic. It was on my must-see list for the August trip. The only negative aspect of my visit were all of the tourists!

You see, I don’t see myself as a tourist when I am in Scotland. It’s home to me and my favorite place on the planet. So as I walked through the castle, I kept wondering why all of these strangers were in MY castle! This was my spot! 

But, alas, it was August which is the busiest month for tourists in Scotland so I had to share. I walked around the castle, both inside and out, for hours. I listened to the guy playing the bagpipes in front of the castle and even talked to him for a while. 

The Castle

Making Eilean Donan in gingerbread proved to be a bit of a challenge, mostly because of the sheer size and complexity of the castle. The inner courtyard was full of stairwells, small passages, and doorways leading to yet another room or courtyard. In order to fit my castle on the board and table, I had to leave out a lot of the these details when constructing the gingerbread representation.

There was quite a bit of creative freedom taken by leaving out some details and basically squishing the interior portions of the castle together. I wish I could have created the castle exactly as it has stood for the last 800 years!

But I had to fit the entire castle plus the iconic bridge on a board that would sit on my dining room table so certain parts had to be omitted.

The bridge is obviously a must. It is the part of the castle that most people recognize first. I even took a selfie of myself on the bridge just to remember my time there – and I don’t do selfies!!

Please don’t laugh at my lack of selfie skills!

So, here it is! My version of Eilean Donan Castle in gingerbread…

A lot of pictures, I know! I tried to show it from all angles so that you can get a sense of the scale. The total size is about 2′ x 2′. I would love for my husband and kids to start eating it so that it doesn’t take up so much room but they don’t want to break off even a small piece!

The piece took a total of about 15 to 20 hours. I took my birthday off from work and planned to build the majority of it that day. It was mostly finished that day but it still took another several hours on a couple of different days, either before or after work. 

I absolutely love the way this Gingerbread Castle turned out! There are things that I would do differently if I did it again but I mostly likely won’t repeat this castle in gingerbread. I usually pick an entirely new structure each year!

Last year, I built a replica of the house my husband and I lived in when we lived in Scotland. You can see it HERE.

Also check out my Haunted Gingerbread House and my Gingerbread Globe that I built on the Great American Baking Show!

Below is the recipe for the gingerbread and royal icing. I used two batches of each to complete the castle.

Recipe for Gingerbread

Yield: About 3 pounds of dough


For the gingerbread:

  • 5 cups all-purpose flour*
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup molasses**
  • ½ cup honey**
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • Zest of two oranges

**For a darker, more robustly flavored dough, you can use 1 cup of molasses. For a lighter colored dough with a lighter flavor use half molasses and half honey. You can also use 1 cup of honey and no molasses for a lighter dough that does not have the typical bitter flavor from the molasses.

  1. Whisk together the flour, spices, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the shortening and sugar until well combined. Add the egg and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl at least twice during mixing.
  3. Add the molasses, honey, vinegar and orange zest and mix well.
  4. Turn off the mixer and add about half of the dry ingredients. Mix on low just to combine. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
  5. Gather the dough together into a ball and then flatten the dough into two disks. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate for about 3 hours or until firm enough to roll without sticking.
  6. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  7. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to a 3/16-inch thickness. Cut out shapes with your favorite cookie cutters or cut according to the gingerbread house template. Carefully transfer the cookies to the prepared cookie sheets with an offset spatula or dough scraper (I like to use a wide dough scraper to keep the cut dough from losing its shape.)
  8. Baking time will vary with cookie size and thickness. Bake until the cookies are firm to the touch and lightly browned around the edges. A three-inch round cookie will take about 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely before frosting and/or assembling with royal icing.

Royal Icing

  • 2 pounds powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 5 large egg whites (5 1/2 ounces of pasteurized whites*)
  • Gel food coloring
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the powdered sugar and cream of tartar and whisk together to combine. Add the egg whites and stir gently with a rubber spatula until the powdered sugar is moistened.
  2. Put the bowl on the stand mixer and, using the whisk attachment, whisk for 1 to 2 minutes until smooth and bright white in color.
  3. At this point, you can use the icing to assemble a gingerbread house. To use the white icing, you will need to thin the icing as directed below.

**To outline shapes or cookies for flooding, put about 1 cup of the royal icing in a small bowl and add about ½ teaspoon water. Add another ½ teaspoon if needed to allowing piping. Stir until smooth and combined then pipe an outline. Fill with flood consistency icing.

**To flood cookies inside the outline, put about 1 cup of the royal icing in a small bowl and add about 1 teaspoon of water. Add another ½ teaspoon water to allow smooth spreading. Stir until smooth and combined and pipe. Use a toothpick to move icing around to fill in gaps and smooth it out.

**Color as desired.

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