Sunday, December 11, 2016

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies #3 Gingerbread Houses

Hi Everyone! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We certainly did.  I love turkey and dressing! We always have leftovers on the day after Thanksgiving and it is at that time that we have our annual Gingerbread House Day!  For years and I mean years, we have made homemade gingerbread houses.  Now we are not experts at our houses, but we always have fun.  We have tried a variety of structures, but always use the same gingerbread recipe.  It makes A LOT of dough.  So lets start with the recipe...

Gingerbread Recipe:
1 cup of shortening
1 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of molasses
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 egg, beaten
5 cups of all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves

Cream shortening, sugar, and salt.  Stir in molasses, vinegar and egg.  Sift together then add the remaining ingredients. Chill mixture overnight.  Roll out dough on a floured board to 1/8 inch.  Bake on parchment lined baking sheets for 6 minutes at 375 degrees.  Remove from oven and place on cooling racks to dry.  This recipe will make 5 houses with dough remaining for gingerbread men! I doubled the recipe and made 11 houses and still had extra dough. It smells wonderful while its baking!

Now to put your houses together.  All portions of your gingerbread house should be edible.  One choice is to use royal icing to "glue" the portions of the house together.  This year, I tried the boiled sugar method and loved it.  It's fast and the houses are rock solid.  You have to be VERY careful as boiled sugar will make a nasty burn.  This is no time for the kids to be in the kitchen helping.  All you need is sugar, a large skillet, and heat.  Stir sugar around until it begins to melt.  It will clump up at first as you can see in the photo.  Continue to stir until all sugar is melted.  Remove from the heat source at that time.
I was alone when I did this next step so I am going to have to explain it to you since I couldn't snap any photos.  Dip the one of the side walls into the sugar glue and attach it the back wall.  Sit on a parchment lined sheet. Next, dip the other side wall where it will attach into the two pieces already glued together.  Next, dip both sides of the front of the house and secure it between the two walls.  Do all the houses like this and then go back to glue on the roof line.  When you dip, think of it as placing a caulk line in your home.  You want a small line of glue.  Be very careful when you have to dip two edges such as the front of the home.  We don't want the sugar glue to drip onto your finger.  If you find the sugar glue is hardening, warm it back up on the stove top. You can see in the photo below where I pointed out a house with too much glue at the seam.  It will end up being covered by icing or candy, but it looks messy.

Now for the fun part, have either bowls of royal icing made for each person or go the easy route and buy white icing in the can.  Make sure that it is perfectly white.  Next have lots of candy, pretzels, shredded wheat (great for roofs), candy canes, gum drops, etc.  for everyone to use.  I have sets of items all over the table. Here we are decorating our homes. That's me with the heart made of candy canes!
Ta-da...our finished products!  My husband took the photo, so we are missing his creation! Not our best photo, but I promise we enjoyed making our houses!
Now for the pattern pieces.  We don't use the chimney pieces, but there is a pattern for them if you choose to have a chimney.  I print the pattern on card stock and it is easier when it comes to cutting out the dough.

Lastly, I will leave you with a few tips:
1.  Crush lifesavers and place the crushed pieces on parchment paper lined cookie sheets.  Place in a 350* oven until they melt.  When they harden, they look like stained glass and make great  windows!
2.  Crushed up shredded wheat makes great roofs and walkways. Coconut makes pretty snow!
3.  Use your imagination when it comes to the candy decorations and buy enough for decorating and enough for eating! Always have more than you think you will need.
4.  Make large batches of royal icing or purchase pure white canned icing for decorating.
5. Purchase round cake bases at your local craft store or bakery.  They make a wonderful base for each gingerbread house.
6. If you go the melted sugar route to assemble the houses, remember that it is VERY hot and you must be careful not to get burned.  It is a good idea to have a bowl of iced water near in case any accidentally gets on your hand.
7.  Have fun!  That's the most important part of gingerbread house construction...it is so much fun! Have a wonderful week.  I'll be in the kitchen baking!

6 comments:

  1. Your gingerbread house is soon cute. Thanks for the recipe! My recipe really needed a lot of tweaking!

    Happy Holidays!

    Jane

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    1. Hi Jane! Hope all is well with you and your family! We've used this recipe FOREVER! I like a recipe that makes a lot of dough and this one does. Hope it does well for you!
      Merry Christmas,
      Lynda

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  2. WOW! You make this look so easy! The gingerbread houses are adorable. Thanks so much for the recipe too! Hugs and blessings, Cindy

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    1. Well thank you! I think we have it down pat now and it is a fairly easy process. If you have extra hands to help cut out the pieces, it moves along well.
      Merry Christmas and Blessings from Lynda at Still Woods Farmhouse

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  3. What a fun post! I've never tried to make homemade gingerbread but would love to try. The houses are fabulous!

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    1. Hi Christina! Did you make any gingerbread houses this past Christmas? If not, put it on your "to do" list for next year. My version is much easier than larger gingerbread homes. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and are enjoying the beginning of a new year!
      Blessings from Lynda at Still Woods Farmhouse

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