Saturday, December 18, 2010

gingerbread house

S recently turned 12 and decided to make a gingerbread house, just as his brother had done at the same age. We'd found it then to be a great project for thinking about measuring, proportions, structure and support—as well as, of course, candy and color and decorations!

So S drew up a design and cut the pieces out of cardboard to test them. Modifications and adjustments were made before baking them in gingerbread. We always use James Beard's recipe. It's spicy and deep, with a lot of molasses. Though we ice it for houses or for sharing with friends, it is best eaten plain so that nothing cuts into the rich, dark, almost savory taste.

James Beard's Gingerbread Cookie Dough 

3 c. sifted all-purpose flour 
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ginger
1/3 c softened butter
1/3 c firmly packed brown sugar
2/3 c molasses
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Sift (or pulse in a food processor) dry ingredients together.
Cream together butter & brown sugar; beat in molasses and egg.
Add sifted dry ingredients and combine well. Can chill if dough seems too soft. 
Roll out on a lightly floured board and cut with cutters. The thickness of the dough will depend on the size of the cutters. If using a large cutter, dough should be 1/3 or even 1/2 inch thick.
Bake on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, 8 to 15 minutes, depending on size and thickness.

We had to make two batches for S's house, though it's possible that had we rolled a little thinner and used a different design, a single batch would have sufficed. This recipe is also good for about 3 dozen 2" gingerbread men.

I have this Royal Icing recipe handwritten next to the gingerbread recipe, so I don't know where it came from, although I suppose most are more or less the same:

Royal Icing

3-4 egg whites
1 lb powdered sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2-1 tsp vanilla or lemon juice 

Mix together until well-blended, thick and glossy.

Here is S cutting out an end piece.
Easiest way to fill an icing bag is to sink it into a drinking glass and fold the edges over.
Decorating. S is something of a minimalist and also will not work with candies he doesn't like the taste or texture of. This means absolutely nothing gooey or gummy!
S noted an assembly mistake almost immediately. We had put the end pieces on the inside of the shorter walls, making a gap in the support for the roof pieces. Had we place the end pieces outside, the roof would have had a more solid place to rest.
We did our best to fill the gap with icing, but to no avail. Once the roof was frosted and decorated, the additional weight led to a collapse on one side.
Duly noted for next year, and S was unfazed—but he also wouldn't let me eat the broken part. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Responses from cool people—please be sure to visit their blogs as well!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...