A family tradition of holiday fun
Every year for the past 10 or so we have taken the weekend before Christmas typically on Saturday to bake and build ginger bread houses. Years ago Monique hosted and attended Pampered Chef parties and one year she got a hold of the ginger bread mold stoneware and ever since I have taken to the fun task of helping the boys build each their own ginger bread house. This year we were without Bryan so Monique and I decorated one together. Ben did his all up in purple and gold LSU colors, it is quite a unique little ginger bread house.
I typically make a double batch of ginger bread dough and a double batch of royal icing as well to complete two houses from the mold. Over the years I have perfected the art of making even and smooth walls, roofs and chimney. The trick is to hand press the dough into the mold until filled over the top edges, then taking a sharp knife I will run the blade parallel to the top and slice off the excess using a sawing motion, the exess dough is added back to the ball.
Usually there will be some dough left over and I will roll out this to about 1/4 inch thickness and then cut out Christmas shapes using tiny cookie cutters. We typically will have a few dozen stars, ginger bread men, bears, candy cane and sleigh shaped ginger bread cookies to eat while we build and decorate the houses.
|Gingerbread House Dough (Single batch, yield: 1 house)|
|½||Cup||Solid vegetable shortening|
|Procedure Steps (Pre-heat oven to 350 º F.)|
|1.||Combine the first 6 dry ingredients and mix well.|
|2.||Combine the shortening and suger and whip until creamed smooth.|
|3.||Add the molasses and egg to the sugar shortening mixture and whip until smooth.|
|4.||Gradually add the dry flour mixture to the wet mixture until well incorporated into a dough.|
|5.||Press dough into lightly greased mold and cut excess. Or on a lightly greased sheet pan roll out dough to an even shape about ½ inch thick.|
|6.||Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until edges of dough are lightly browned. Place mold or sheet pan on cooling rack for 5 minutes then un-mold or remove from pan.|
|7.||If using a single sheet pan method use the template below to cut out the walls and roof shapes. If using the mold allow it to cool somewhat before adding the next batch of dough.|
|8.||Once cooled the house sections are ready to build.|
|4||Cups||Powdered confectioners sugar|
|2||Tsp||Cream of tartar|
|1.||Blend together the confectioners sugar and cream of tarter, then add the egg whites and whip on medium speed until in electric mixer until glossy and hit holds stiff peaks.|
This icing will start to dry very quickly so keep covered with a damp towel or plastic wrap. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a small star tube and use the icing as the “glue” for attaching the walls then the roof sections. Add more icing and then decorate with various candy pieces. Add more icing on the roof to simulate snow and then decorate that too.
|Now everyone is ready to decorate their houses, Monique and Ben start adding candy pieces after I have set up the walls and roof sections with the royal icing “glue”. The fun begins and goes really quickly too.|