Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Gingerbread House Tradition


Here it is! The finished gingerbread house! I am so excited about this accomplishment of ours! It was two or three years ago when I first watched Gale Gand make a house like this on her Food Network Show Sweet Dreams.  I'd been wanting to make one ever since. Last year, I got as far as making the gingerbread pieces, but the hustle and bustle of the season got in the way and so we just ate them (delicious just on their own!). I think I was a little intimidated by the icing since I hadn't used it before. But since we used the same icing to finish the gingerbread bears (see previous post here), I had a bit more courage this year. I'd been saving leftover Halloween candy for at least a year with a gingerbread house in mind and the kids were begging me to make one after they saw a decorated house at the neighbor's...so this is the year.


I started by covering a pizza pan with foil and assembling the baked gingerbread pieces. The walls go up first, glued together with royal icing made with powdered sugar and egg whites. After the "glue" has had a chance to set, the roof goes on. We used Frosted Mini Wheats for roof shingles and Dots along the top edge.



I gave each kid a wall to decorate the way they wanted and then wrote their names on that side. I was very impressed with the ideas for decorating that they came up with, especially since our candy supply was limited. I vowed I was not buying any special candy just for this -- all the candy came from our rejected Halloween candy supply.

Ben made the marshmallow snowman using whole cloves for the face and we made a gingerbread family with the leftover dough and icing.

You can grow flowers out of the snow using M&M's and we embellished the house with some royal icing piped along the edges.
I will not be skipping this tradition again - it's so much fun! I have a friend who has been saving all of the gingerbread houses they've made for the past several years, and now she has an entire city to display at Christmastime! It's fantastic!


Gingerbread House
By Gale Gand via The Food Network

Gingerbread:
8 ounces unsalted butter (16 tablespoons or 2 sticks), softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 1/4 cups cake flour
4 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
Gingerbread House Templates, recipe follows
Royal Icing:
3 cups confectioners' sugar, plus more as needed
2 egg whites

To Assemble and Decorate the House:
  • Heavy cardboard base for the house
  • Pastry bag with a medium plain tip and a small plain tip
  • Frosted shredded mini-wheats for the roof, as needed
  • Mini tootsie rolls for a fence, as needed
  • White Hershey Kisses for roof top spikes, as needed
  • Small candy canes for a lamp post outside the door, as needed
  • Granulated sugar for snow drifts, as needed
  • Necco Wafers for a cobblestone path, as needed
  • 3 large marshmallows, for snow man
  • Pretzel sticks, for snowman arms, as needed
  • 2 whole cloves, for snowman eyes
  • Graham crackers to build a shed, as needed
  • Assorted candy such as gum drops, peppermint drops, M & M's, white chocolate chips, red hots, non-pareils or snow caps, silver dragees, green mint jelly leaves, Life Savers, and Animal Crackers
Directions
In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and mix until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time until incorporated. Add the molasses and vanilla and mix.
Sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, cloves, and salt. Working in batches, and mixing after each addition just until combined, add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture. Shape the dough into a thick disk, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease 2 cookie sheets.
On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough in half and roll each piece out into a large 1/4-inch thick sheet. Transfer the dough sheets to the sheet pans; then cut out the required shapes with your templates (see Gingerbread House Templates below).
Bake until stiff and toast-y, about 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely.
Make the Royal Icing: In a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the confectioners' sugar and egg whites together. Add more sugar, if necessary, to reach a spreadable consistency.
Assemble and Decorate the House: Glue the house walls together by setting them up on the cardboard base, and piping the royal icing at the joints with a medium plain tip from the inside. Prop the sides up with wine or soda bottles and let set for 30 minutes. Attach the roof pieces, using the icing in the same way
Using a spatula to apply the icing, glue the frosted mini-wheats on the roof to look like thatching. Attach the front door, with hinges made from icing (leave it open to be more inviting).
Decorate as you like, following the suggestions in the ingredient list, using the icing as glue, if needed. Use a small plain tip for any filigree style decorative line work, you may want.
Gingerbread House Templates:
Brown paper bags, as needed
You'll need to make 7 templates, by drawing the dimensions out on brown paper and cutting them out. Use the templates as a stencil to cut the dough into the required pieces. Here are the templates you'll need:
Two front and rear walls: 5 inches high by 8 inches long. Cut out 2 windows from each wall, and 2 1/2 by 1 1/2-inch door in one.
Two side walls shaped like a house (triangle on a square): 5 inches high by 6 inches long, with a triangle 7 inches high on top (cut all in 1 piece). Cut 1 window out of each side.
Two overhanging roof pieces: 4 1/2 inches wide by 9 inches long.
One door: 2 1/2 inches high by 1 1/2 inches wide.

3 comments:

  1. It is just spectatcular!!!!!!!!!!!....quite different than our attempt!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow, I can't believe you did your own. I'm so impressed!

    ReplyDelete

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