Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas From Our Home to Yours

One of our favorite traditions is making Gingerbread Houses.  What's yours?

Check out Simply Recipes for an excellent Gingerbread House post.  The post includes a recipe, templates, and step-by-step tutorial with photos.  The post was done in 2009 so many people have put in their suggestions in the comments sections.  It is a very helpful post, and so I have not re-created it here, but have instead written down some of my tweaks and tips.

I've actually shrunk the template to make "cottages".  I use a 3 inch x 3 inch square for the sides of the cottage.  A pentagon makes the front and back of the house.  It's essentially a 3 inch x 3 inch square with a triangle top.  The triangle has a 3 inch base, and 2 inch sides.  The roof is a 3 inch x 2 inch rectangle.  You need two front/back pieces, two side pieces, and two roof tops to make what you see above.  I created master templates out of a stiff manila envelope and save them for use from year to year.  This will make you about nine cottages. 

I find that rolling out the dough directly on a Silpat mat works best.  Even with that, I still floured the dough and rolling pin generously.  I cut out the template pieces so that they shared sides in order to reduce waste.  I also cut out gingerbread men and snowflakes to use up any strips that would not be big enough for a house component.  I let the cut dough firm up in the freezer for about 15 minutes before baking.  It also helped to remove any scrap dough before baking. After baking, I recut the lines before removing the pieces to cool on a cookie rack.

I just use canned vanilla frosting for the mortar.  I line a mug with a quart sized baggie, spoon in half a can of frosting, zip up the baggie, cut a small hole in one of the bottom corners, and call it a day.  We used about half a can of frosting for every two cottages.

To make all the cottage pieces fit just so, I had to attach the front and the back pieces to the inside of the sides of the cottage. Finally, attach the roof.

We allowed our cottages to set up for about 10 minutes before adding our candy embellishments.  Don't be afraid to break out the scissors and cut up candy to suit your vision.  Some ideas include...
  • Mini candy canes make great windows and doors.
  • Green gummy rings make nice wreaths.
  • Licorice pieces make cute shingles.
  • Peppermints can be stacked to create a chimney.
  • Gummy worms can be easily cut into many shapes.
  • Chocolate covered raisins look like cobble stone.
  • Powdered sugar gives that "new fallen snow" effect.

Please link below in the comments section to your Gingerbread creations.

I hope you have a safe and peaceful holiday, surrounded by those you love.  Merry Christmas!


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