Monday, 19 December 2011

Gingerbread House

I love the smell of gingerbread during the holiday season.  I make a gingerbread house every year just to fill the apartment with the smell.  I used to buy the pre-made houses, but started making them from scratch because I get to design my own house.  Here are a couple pictures of the one I did last year:

This year, I used the same recipe, but made a different house template.  I also used melted white chocolate melting wafers to pipe the designs instead of royal icing (mostly because I was lazy to make the icing, plus, there’s always a lot of leftover icing that I unhappily end up throwing out).

Check out the verdict at the end of the post!

Gingerbread with Fresh Ginger
Adapted from here.
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 ½ Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons water

House template
Measure and cut out house piece paper templates.  You can find one here. If you are going to include a surprise inside the house (e.g., a Christmas tree), be sure to cut our some windows so that you can see it.

1.       In a large bowl, mix butter, sugar, molasses, ginger, cloves, and baking soda until well combined. 
2.       Mix in flour and water.
3.       Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.  You can freeze for up to 6 months.
4.       To bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
5.       Roll out dough in pieces big enough for each template piece. Transfer rolled out dough to baking sheet, place template on top, and trace around with a butter knife.  Remove the excess.
6.       Bake for 6 minutes (longer if dough is thicker), and leave on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

1.       Since I used melted chocolate, I decorated the house pieces before assembly.  Use either melted white chocolate or royal icing to pipe designs.
2.       To make the glue that will hold the pieces together, cook 1/3 cup sugar in a saucepan on low heat until golden.  Use a spoon to spread the sugar “glue” on the edges of the house and press together.  Work quickly as the “glue” hardens almost immediately spreading onto the gingerbread.  Be very careful not to touch the cooked sugar –it will burn you!
3.       After the walls are secured to the base, glue the Christmas tree inside.

The sugar glue is ready when this colour.

The back.

The surprise inside!

Verdict: The smell of gingerbread fills the apartment for weeks! I made gingerbread cookies with the left over dough, which were very tasty!  I’ve never made gingerbread with dried ginger, but these cookies made with fresh ginger are flavourful!  As for the white chocolate, I think I’ll go back to royal icing next year, as the melted chocolate was a tad too liquid to do intricate piping work.

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