Is anyone making a Gingerbread House this year?
If so, which recipe are you using? I have a couple recipes that I've made in the past, but I'd be interested to hear if anyone has a recipe they'd recommend. I did check older threads on the topic, and am posting this newer thread because I'm interested in hearing about recipes people are making this year.
Would love to see photos of your gingerbread houses once they've been constructed!
The gingerbread recipe from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas makes a great house.
Scandinavian Gingerbread (Pepparkakstuga)
1 cup butter, room temp
1 cup brown sugar, well packed
2 tablespoons cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup boiling water
5 cups all-purpose flour
1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until blended. Add the cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Mix the baking soda with the boiling water and add to the dough along with the flour. Mix to make a stiff dough. If necessary add more water, a tablespoon at a time. Chill 2 hours or overnight.
2. Cut patterns for the house out of cardboard.
3. Roll the dough out (approximately 3- or 4-mm thick) on a large baking sheet and place the patterns on the dough. Mark off the various pieces with a knife, but leave the dough pieces in place.
4. Preheat the oven to 375'F. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the cookie dough feels firm. After baking, again place the pattern on top of the gingerbread and trim the shapes, cutting the edges with a straight-edged knife. Leave to cool on the baking sheet.
I use the white house gingerbread recipe we've been using for about 35 years now, and we've made thousands (really, literally thousands) over the years. I baked about 75 gingerbread houses on Sunday and will make about 20 more next week. It wouldn't be Christmas without Operation Gingerbread!
In fact, you can find the recipe and my top 10 technique tips in the current issue of Yum! Food and Fun for Kids magazine, and as a guest post last december on the Frog Prince Paperie blog. I'd link to it, but I just had a post removed for providing a link. You can google it easily, though. It's the first hit if you search "frog prince paperie gingerbread."
One for each kid in my girls' classes, teachers, dance instructors, neighbors, a decorating party for the girl scout troop, another party for the friends who are no longer in our various classes/troops, etc. . It adds up!
The A frame makes it such a snap to assemble! Very handy when you're doing a bunch, and I love the Alpine look, too.
My kids graduated pretty quickly to doing the whole sheebang themselves and they *loved* doing it. They were also rock stars when they'd walk into school with gingerbread houses decorated with colorful candy and wrapped in glitz cellophane for the teachers.
I know the competitive aspect of gingerbread houses has sort of eclipsed the sensory satisfaction but this whole process of making one is greatly underrated.
Every few years, my daughter likes to have gingerbread house making parties and she's talked about it this year so I might be assembling 5-6. Does anyone really eat them? I always throw them out after they've sat out for a couple of weeks so I use shortening instead of butter and the cheapest ingredients possible, plus I bake them slightly longer so they're hard and hold up better. I follow whatever recipe looks good but probably haven't done the same one twice.
I do use jolly ranchers in the windows for that stained glass look. I put the royal frosting into ziplock bags w/ corners clipped out for the kids to use.and the rest is up to them. Hours of prep and I think they're finished in under 10 minutes.
We always had a similar timeline. We baked in early December, and I wasn't allowed to eat it until Christmas day. It works better in some climates than others. The Philippines and Florida, not so great. ;-) They're always crunchy cookies (need rigidity for construction), so it's best dunked in milk whether you eat it on day one or day thirty.
I can't find it now but we have always had great results with the recipes that come with Brown Bag cookie molds. It lacks leavening and, so, distorts minimally in baking.
Can I suggest you hold onto your templates after you've cut your shapes. Reapply them to the freshly baked dough and trim back to the template while the pieces are hot and soft.
Also, consider wrapping a few small presents for the kids and enclosing them in the constructed house. When they're allowed to begin eating it, they'll find a surprise inside.
I use a recipe that I think came with the pan I use to make the house pieces.
1/2 C shortening (I always use butter)
1/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C dark molasses
2 TBSP cold water
3 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
(I always add some freshly-grated nutmeg, though it's not in the recipe)
Cream together shortening, sugar, molasses, and water. Sift together flour, spices, and salt. Add dry ingredients to shortening mixture and mix well. Dough will be stiff. Chill at least one hour.
Press into greased mold and bake in preheated 350F oven for 25 minutes.