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Holiday Baking

Submitted by on December 17, 2009 – 12:27 pmNo Comment

gingerbreadhouse_582x382

Holiday Baking:

Are you bored – have nothing to do. If you and your friends want to have a great time, bake a gingerbread house together. It probably won’t look prefect or traditional… but it will be festive. And let’s face it, you were going to just eat it anyways.

Traditional Gingerbread:

Ingredients

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • softened
 1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup dark molasses
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preparation Beat together flour and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in molasses and orange juice. Stir together flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon and salt in a separate bowl, and add half of this dry mixture to molasses mixture, beating until smooth. Add remaining flour and beat until it comes together; knead by hand until completely smooth and workable. Wrap dough tightly in plastic or wax paper and let rest in a cool place (not as cold as the refrigerator) for an hour.

While waiting, cut out patterns using lightweight cardboard. For the roof, cut two 6 1/2- by 7-inch rectangles. For the front and back, cut two 12-inch high by 5 1/2-inches wide rectangles; to create a triangle at the top, fold the sides until they meet exactly in the middle of the top, 2 3/4 inches in, and cut along the fold marks. For the sides, cut two 7 1/2-inch high by 5-inch rectangles.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Divide gingerbread dough in half; cover one half with plastic, and place other half on a large sheet of parchment / wax paper. On the paper, roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Rub dough surface very lightly with flour, and place any many patterns on dough as will fit. Use a sharp knife to cut them out. Use paper underneath to transfer them to baking sheets, cutting it away from other pieces as necessary. Re-roll dough as necessary, though work quickly to keep it moist.

Press a rectangle “door” cookie on front piece, and a larger rectangle “garage” cookie on back piece. Cut out windows as desired on front, side and back pieces. Bake pieces just until sides begin to darken, 10 to 15 minutes.

To put house together, it’s best to have two people. Prop up the front and a side, and use stiff icing to seal (stiff icing recipe below). Repeat with back and other side, and then seal the two pieces together. Assemble inverted v-shape roof by itself, and then attach it to house. (If it’s not important that the house be edible, it’s an easy alternative to construct a house first out of the cardboard pattern pieces, using heavyweight tape to attach them, and then glue the gingerbread pieces over it.)

Place the house on a piece of foil-covered heavyweight cardboard, and decorate from there, using stiff icing to attach candies and cookies as shingles, roof decorations, trim, stepping stones, bushes, and perhaps a driveway and some garden adornments.

Stiff icing: Beat together 2 2/3 cups confectioners / icing sugar, 2 tablespoons powdered egg white and 1/4 cup water until stiff. Cover tightly and store up to two weeks; this dries to be very firm and makes a good “glue” for gingerbread houses.

Decorate with all kinds of extras like gumballs, candy canes, chocolates, gummies… whatever mood strikes you!

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