Monday, January 4, 2010

Gingerbread Houses

I got ambitious and decided to make some gingerbread houses for a neighborhood activity that I was in charge of for some youth to decorate.

This recipe that I am going to put here made enough dough for seven small gingerbread houses. They were rolled out about 1/4 inch.

The royal icing that I used here worked out really well - except I realized that it worked much better after I had let it sit for a couple of hours. (The first houses decorated were done in such a rush without time for icing to dry, and the roofs started sliding off. We had to do emergency repairs once, or twice :) Oops!)

Gingerbread House (adapted fr Simply Recipes)

6 c all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 tsp ground ginger
4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves or allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tbsp) butter, softened
1 1/2 c packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 c dark molasses
1 tbsp water

Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside

Beat together butter and brown sugar until fluffy and well blended (electric mixer on medium). Beat in eggs, molasses, and water until well combined.

Beat half of the flour mixture into the molasses mixture until well blended and smooth. Stir in remaining flour. Knead until well blended. If dough is too soft, add a little more flour.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours, pref overnight. Let sit at room temp at least 10 minutes before rolling out.

Okay - so I did this with less time allowed. I only chilled in the freezer for just a little while to get it chilled, then I generously floured the surface I was rolling on - biggest thing is that you don't want it to stick, because you have to cut the pieces out and maintain their shape.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Have several flat cookie sheets ready, pref ones that will not warp in the heat.

Divide dough in two. Spread parchment paper or wax paper on large flat surface - dust lightly with flour (or generously if you're me and seriously nervous about sticking dough :) Use rolling pin to roll out dough to even thickness (I did 1/4 inch). Add a little flour to surface of the dough as rolling, and check for sticking as you roll out. If dough starts sticking, dust with more flour.

Rub a little flour over surface of dough. Place on your pattern pieces - as many as will fit. Use a small sharp knife to cut out the pattern. Also, you can use scissors and cut straight through the wax paper and even cook the dough on the paper. It will peel off easily at the end.

Bake at 350  for 1-15 minutes, (until edges just begin to darken); 6-8 for small pieces. Remove to cool.

Right after you take the cookies out, while they are still slightly warm, you can lay the pattern pieces over again and use a straight chef's knife to trim off any parts of the pieces that have spread beyond the pattern. I was in a rush, so I didn't do this. It's not a must, but if you're a perfectionist, you may just want to make time for this.

Royal Icing (aka Edible Glue)

2 large egg whites
2 2/3 c powdered sugar, divided

Whisk together egg whites and 1 1/3 c of the powdered sugar until smooth.

Add remaining 1 1/3 c of powdered sugar to mixture. Using an electric mixer, beat on high until the icing holds still peaks. If it doesn't form stiff peaks, add more powdered sugar.

That's it. However, if you want your icing to actually kind of taste good in my opinion, add a little extract of some sort - almond, lemon, orange. If you like your sugar straight up, then don't worry about it!

I probably used 2-3 times this much icing for the 7 small houses that I did with this recipe.

I usually cover the icing while I'm not working with it - so I mix it in some type of tupperware with a lid. That way it can slightly dry out which actually makes it easier when your using it, but not too dry to work with.

When you're ready, fill a decorating bag with the icing. And put your house together!

First, the walls - icing along the base and the side seams. After you place, put icing again around the base inside and out, and the side seams. Let it sit for a while (depends on the size of your house how long you will want to wait. I was good in about 20 minutes, but it was a small structure). Then, do the roof! Once again, icing along the seams of the walls, and then along the seam of your roof. The roof looks good if you use a pattern that has a slight overhang at the ends. Hold the pieces for a few minutes so they don't slide off. Pipe top seam with some extra icing. Add icicles if you want. They look cool! Usually you should wait at least an hour after this step to do more decorating so that your house sets up really well and will stay under the pressure of added candy (I found out the hard way at first with limited time at our activity).

Decorate with CANDY! Use the icing to glue the candy on.

I really had fun decorating these. There are so many fun things you can do.


Here's the pattern I used (I modified it a little, however, because the walls did not match up quite evenly for some odd reason). I was also too lazy to do the chimney, cuz seemed like lots of work for little reward on this teeny house. Maybe when I'm more ambitious in the future.....

 Merissa Wilson's Gingerbread House!
Leanna Watt's Gingerbread House!

My niece Jaide, helped me decorate this next house......
What a good poser! She used lots of marshmallows for snow, and we used cinnamon toast crunch to make the roof shingles. Also, Uncle Ben made a red snowman in front.

Jaide's sisters enjoyed eating all of the candy while we decorated! That's really how a 4 and 2 year old help decorate a gingerbread house.

Lots of candy!
The super tall marshmallow snowman was contributed by Julie.

These last couple that I have here I made and we donated them to some homeless shelters along with dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies. Way to go Tom and Ginny Lakey! My in-laws are so caring and always do cool things like this around the holidays. Also, my husband is awesome, who helped me cut out and bake sugar cookies for 4 hours one evening. I believe the count was around 14 dozen, and we were just doing about 1/6 of the quantity that was prepared for delivery! But enough about cookies. Here's the pictures already!

Tortilla Chip Roof

Add caption

Smarties house. For some reason, this reminds me of the gingerbread man on Shrek.

Maybe it's the expression of the front of the house. So worried.

Last but not least, the peppermint house.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Roof

That's it for this year. Will I be more ambitious next? We'll see.  Maybe one of these?

Cute cottage scene

Ginger"bird" house

Gingerbread Castle

Let's be honest. Most likely not. But they are quite pretty :)

(These last three are from the Festival of Trees 2009 in SLC)

No comments:

Post a Comment