Gingerbread House

dsc_0056RECIPE #383, DAY #562

FOUR STARS

ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Gingerbread (for Cookies or a Gingerbread House)” from LUv 2 BaKE on Food.com, and a similar recipe for the frosting*

TIMING: I would set aside a good 3 hours

DIFFICULTY: Some skill required

TOOLS: A sheet pan, a rolling pin, a stand mixer, knives and cookie cutters, graph paper, etc.

COOK TYPE: Stovetop and oven

dsc_0058HEALTH: Although these are cookies, they are sweetened largely by molasses which has a lot of healthy vitamins. Still, they are cookies. And in some ways, this is not even meant to be eaten. But I did choose a recipe that was especially edible because I don’t like to waste food.

dsc_0057EXPERIENCE: I am not a gingerbread fan, but I am a fan of making gingerbread houses for the holidays. My aunt used to make them with me, and she came up with all sorts of fun variations, such as gingerbread towns, nativity, and teepees. My daughter insisted that making a gingerbread house would be a great Christmas break activity, and I agreed with her, but with all the busyness it took us 2 weeks to finish. I am so not kidding.

I thought this was the best recipe to home-make the cookies and frosting and still get a great result. The cookie actually tasted good, and the frosting was perfect, soft cement. The two downsides? The dough was super stiff and took me like an hour to roll out and cut. (That might be necessary to get nice, firm walls and roof.) Also, it’s gingerbread.

Just kidding. Plenty of people like gingerbread, right?

NOTES: You can get out some grid paper and create your house, then cut it out and use as a template for your gingerbread. I just used a ruler and my imagination, but I am pretty crafty like that.

If you have to pause and store your dough in the fridge, it becomes difficult to roll it out. This would be a nice project for a long, lazy Christmas break day, when you can use the dough and assemble everything as it is ready.

If you want to go crazy with the frosting, you’ll want to double it.

You way need to sift your powdered sugar before using. Sifting powdered sugar into a big bowl before measuring is actually a helpful practice when baking.

***

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup unsulphured molasses, 2 teaspoons minced ginger, 1 teaspoon allspice, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon clove. Heat over medium heat, stirring, until it comes to a boil.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in 2 teaspoons baking soda. Stir in 1/2 cup unsalted butter until melted.
  3. With a fork, beat in 1 egg, then 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour. Your mixture can be a little spotty when you turn it out on the board. Just knead until combined, and then a few times more.
  4. Preheat oven to 325F with a rack in the middle.
  5. Divide the dough in half and cover 1 half with a moist towel. Roll out the first half until scant 1/4 inch thick. Cut out house pieces (walls, roof) and any other gingerbread accoutrements you may want (people, trees…) with knives, pizza cutters, and cookie cutters. Remember you have a second sheet to work with.
  6. Place the pieces carefully on a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes. Meanwhile, roll out your second dough and finish cutting out shapes. Bake the same.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to sit 5 minutes. Then move carefully to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely.
  8. Meanwhile, in a clean, cool bowl on your stand mixer, beat 3 egg whites with 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, until stiff peaks form.
  9. Add a scant 5 cups powdered sugar, a little at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl. On high speed, beat the frosting for 5 minutes. Cover and set in the fridge.
  10. Gather a whole lot of candies and baking/decorating bits and bobs. Use the frosting to assemble your house on a flat, stable surface (like an especially flat platter or piece of firm cardboard or wood). Make sure to frost the pieces right to the platform. Then use the frosting to attach decorations. You can dye frosting, too, to decorate with a piping bag. Allow to firm up, then show the world. Then eat it, with milk or hot cocoa.

***

Serve with a cup of cold milk or hot cocoa (with marshmallows and candy canes, of course).

LEFTOVER IDEAS: This will keep for a while, sitting on your counter. If you intend to eat it, it would be best to cover with plastic wrap and do so sooner rather than later.

*Recipe changed from the original.

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