Thursday, December 8, 2011

Come Build a House with Me!

It all started in 1988...I saw the advertisement in the Ft. Belvoir Newsletter that they were giving a gingerbread house class at the community center.  I went, I saw, I conquered! lol  I had the best time making a house, and took a good friend with me and since then I have been making them almost annually for my children and others.  I would always send one to school for the annual Christmas party when my children were in elementary school.  I really loved seeing the faces of the kids when it was brought in and they could start breaking off each piece of the house and getting even their biggest sweet tooth filled.

Gingerbread houses are just magical, that's all there is to it.

Well, I decided to teach a benefit class here on the mountain this year.  I usually get folks together one week before Thanksgiving and give them the pattern as well as the recipes, then we get together again the first week after Thanksgiving-that way I don't interfere with their special moments with friends and family.  I want to share my recipe/pattern with you.  I have been making these houses since 1988 and have loved each and every one.  And...I have got the recipe perfected, well, in my mind it is anyway.  I hope you enjoy it.  I also hope that if you choose to take up this challenge to make your own house with friends or family that you will share your photos with me.  I would love to be able to share in your smiles and happiness.  If you have problems, please, call me at 301-241-4869 (EST during the daytime) or email me at and I will be more than happy to do what I can to help out.  Have fun!

Gingerbread House Class

1.                  Pre-baked house pieces- enough to create one entire house.
2.                  Cardboard covered with foil- enough for house and small landscape area- around 14x14 inches.
3.                  2-3 batches of the royal icing: pre-made in an airtight bowl
4.                  Decorating bag with coupler and tips #3, #16, or #21
5.                  2 Kitchen towels
6.                  Spatula
7.                  Plastic Bag
8.                  2 bags of your choice of candy (please do not bring chocolate or soft candies as they don’t hold up well.)
9.                  Camera

Read Very Carefully
           The best way to start is to trace the house pattern pieces onto poster board, cut them out, cover them with taped down waxed paper.  You’ll need a front and back of the house, two sides, two eaves, and two roofs of the house.  When you make the house pieces out of dough, roll it out onto the cookie sheet lined with foil and trace around the pieces there.  Pull up the excess.  The moment you take the cookie out of the oven, transfer the foil to a flat, heatproof surface, trace around your pattern with a pizza cutter or sharp knife again and cut off the excess or the house will not fit together well.  Let the houses dry out on a wire rack for a day or so before assembling them.  The drier they are, the better they hold together.
            After you have made the royal icing, keep it covered in an airtight container with a piece of moist paper toweling between the bowl and the lid.

 Remember that you need at least two batches of these made before class.
(Can keep up to a week in plastic ware in the fridge).

 3 level TBSP  meringue powder (available at Wal-Mart, Michaels, Joann’s and cake decorating stores).
4 cups confectioners sugar (1 lb.)
5-6 TBSP water (add one TBS at a time)

            Beat all ingredients at low speed for 7-10 minutes (10-12 minutes on high speed for portable mixer), or until icing forms stiff peaks.  Transfer to plastic bowl and cover with a lightly moistened, high quality paper towel and place the lid on top of that.
                         1 cup melted butter                                                   
                        1 ½ cups dark brown sugar                                         
                        1 egg                                                                          
                        2 TBS molasses                                                           
                        1 TBS corn syrup (Karo)                                            
                        1 tsp baking soda 
                        4-5  cups flour (depending on the weather)
                        2 TBS hot coffee
                        4 tsp cinnamon
                        3 tsp ginger
                        3 tsp cloves
                        2 tsp nutmeg
             Melt the butter on medium heat or in microwave, set aside the pan after it has melted.  Pack the brown sugar into the measuring cup and empty it into a very large bowl.  Add the melted butter and cream the two together with a wooden spoon.  Add 1 egg.  Add the molasses and corn syrup. 
            Mix the baking soda and the hot coffee together, ensuring the baking soda is dissolved, then add to the large bowl.  Add the cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg.  Mix thoroughly by hand or with an electric mixer on medium speed.
            Add the flour one cup at a time.  Mix well with a wooden spoon.  Dough will become stiff so the last dry addition may need to be blended by hand.  Work dough until it is smooth in consistency.  If dough sticks to your hands, lightly dust them with flour.  Careful though, too much flour makes dough dry and hard.  When dough is easy to work, you’re ready to roll it out and make your house pieces.  If you’re not going to make your house right away, wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate (up to one week).  Be sure and bring it to room temperature before rolling (around three hours). 

Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes.  Place pieces on a baking rack for them to cool, do NOT put them in plastic ware or a plastic bag immediately.  They need to dry out before you put them in an airtight container. 

If a piece breaks into just a couple of pieces, don’t worry about it.  We can glue it back together later with royal icing “glue” when we build.  

Here are the house piece patterns, just print them out as a "photo" from your computer and you will have the exact dimensions that I use.

Here are a few pics of my house.  Still have to make the tree in the yard but you get the idea.  


And here are a few pics from the final class last night.  I only got one pic of houses before everyone skidaddled out but we had fun!


No comments:

Post a Comment