I Am Not a Contractor

Ginger Bread House

I attempted to make my first gingerbread house from scratch - and full disclosure, I basically made a small version of the house from The Money Pit, as you can see by the glorious photo. That said, it was fun, the kids had a blast and I would totally recommend it for anyone that wants to make their own. The dough recipe I used was easy enough to follow and I laughed a lot the entire process. Here's what we did from start to finish:

- Gingerbread House Templates:

      - Front and Back
      - Roof
      - Side and Chimney

- Royal Frosting Recipe

- Goodies -- really anything you want! You can see from our photo below that we decided on starlight mints, gumdrops, red hots, marshmallows, M&Ms, sprinkles of varying color, candy canes, peanut butter cups and of course some fun reindeer shades for the kiddos to wear while we worked

Here is the recipe for the gingerbread:

Ingredients

  • 6 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbsp) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup dark molasses
  • 1 Tbsp water

Make the Gingerbread Dough

1 Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl, set aside.

2 Using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed the butter and brown sugar until fluffy and well blended. Beat in the eggs, molasses and water until well combined.

3 Beat half of the flour mixture into the molasses mixture until well blended and smooth. Stir in the remaining flour. Knead (or use your mixer's dough hook) until well blended. If dough is too soft, add a little more flour.

4 Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours, preferably overnight. You can make it up to 3 days ahead of time. Let sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before rolling out.

Create and Cut Out Pattern Pieces

Cut out the patterns for the house (linked above in case you missed it) using thicker pieces of paper, like construction paper or thin cardboard. pieces of stiff paper (like that of a manila folder) or cardboard. I made the mistake of using regular paper and it was a bit too thin and flimsy. The patterns should print to proportion, but the dimensions are also listed in case you want to double check.

Make the Gingerbread House Pieces

1 Preheat oven to 350°F, with the oven rack in the middle. Have several flat cookie sheets at the ready.

2 Divide the dough in two. Spread parchment paper or wax paper on a large flat surface for rolling. Dust the paper lightly with flour. Working with one portion of the dough at a time, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to an even thickness of about 1/4-inch. Add a little flour to the surface of the dough and add flour as needed if your dough is sticking to your rolling pin or surface. If the rolled out dough is very soft, you may want to freeze it for an hour before cutting out the patterns.

3 Rub a little flour over the surface of the dough. Place the pattern pieces on the dough, as many pattern pieces as will fit on the dough. Use a small sharp knife to cut out the pattern pieces from the dough, wiping the knife surface clean frequently. You can cut out the patterns through the dough and parchment paper, placing the dough pieces with the paper directly on the cookie sheets. If you are not using parchment paper or wax paper, you may need to use a large metal spatula to transfer the dough pieces to a greased cookie sheet. Space the pieces on the cookie sheet an inch apart from each other. If dough pieces stretch during the transfer process, push them back into shape.

You can cut out a door and window(s) at this point, or you can wait until after baking, soon after the pieces have come out of the oven while the cookies are still warm.

4 Bake in a 350°F oven until the edges are just beginning to darken, 11-15 minutes for the large pieces, 6-8 minutes for the small pieces. Cool for about 15 minutes after removing from the oven.

Remove pieces to cool directly on racks to cool completely.

 

Now this is where I went a bit rogue and after I had my royal frosting in the piping bag me and the kids just went straight for construction. Here is where I might recommend following some instructions -- I read a great tip about balancing the house against canned veggies to help stabilize while the frosting dries and acts as a harder glue. I also think my frosting was a bit too loose so it didn't bond as well as it could have. I will say, you are basically gluing the house pieces together, so common sense can be applied, but going slow and being a bit more conscious will likely result in a prettier end product. But, we decided there had been enough rule following and we sure had a lot of fun just piping and gluing and giggling our way through.

The final portion was the best part of all, decorating our house! I let the kids lead the way, sticking anything and everything on and snacking on sweets as we went. New blogger admission, I forgot to take a photo of our finished product, doh! Although I am still learning, I do think the mid-construction shot is the best and most hilarious. And like I said at the start, the kids had a blast every step of the way and at the end of the day, that is the whole reason we did it. Maybe next year our house will look more like, well a house. Let me know how your gingerbread house adventures turn out! And if you made it this far, thank you!!