Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gingerbread time

One of my FAVORITE holiday traditions is to make, on my own, a gingerbread house. We all decorate and eat icing and candy and have a BLAST. Here is my recipe;

1cup butter, softened
1cup brown sugar
1cup molasses
4 cups flour ( i sometimes add up to 1/2 extra cup to keep my dough tough for houses)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1tablespoon ground ginger
1tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1teaspoon ground cloves
dash of salt

For cookies,mix butter and sugar until fluffy. add dry ingredients a little at time until just blended. Roll into two or three balls, wrap in saran wrap and set in fridge overnight or for an hour at least. Roll to 1/4 inch thich and cut out shapes. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes. Will still be soft when taken from oven! They get harder s they cool.

To make a gingerbread house;
Make a house out of paper in the shape you desire, use this as your pattern for your cookies. You can make a simple shape with five squares and two rectangles the same width. Take one square and cut in half,place this triangle point up on top of a square to make the front and back of the house. Use rectangles for the roof.

use same recipe for cookies, but mix longer to allow gluten to startmaking the dough tougher. Soft gingerbread is not desireable for a house! Bake a about 300 for a little longer as well. you want your house hard so the icing doesnt make it "melt."

1. Cut out squares before baking in what will be the sides of your house, or door ect. Crush up life savers or any hard clear candy and sprinkle into the square after you have moved it to a baking sheet. When baking, it will melt and fill the hole and then cool hard again, making a "glass" window. Use those nifty flameless candles under your house to make your house come alive!
2. I use foil on my baking sheets to make moving my house to a cooling rack easier. do not move off rack until completely cool. It will be soft until cool and liable to give you a Dr. Seuss house!
Have fun and dont worry about the mess! a beautifully swwet gingerbread house is worth the mess any day!


"glue" icing

two room temp egg white, 1 teaspoon cream of tartarand about two cups of powdered sugar. Useing a wisk attachment beat eggwhites until fluffy with the cream of tartar. Add in sugar slowly until you get to a nice thick consistency. You can always add a teaspoon of water if it gets too thick.

"decorator" icing
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup crisco
1/2 bag powdered sugar
1 tsp clear vanilla or almond extract

Use glue icing to hold up the walls. they will need lots of time. I find cans from the pantry work well as"supports" to keep the walls up while building. Assemble four walls first and after fully set do roof one piece at a time.

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