From simple to complex, I gasp in awe at the amazing confectionary conquests known as gingerbread houses. I have made quite a few over-the-top ones back in my pro-baking days, but still gaze in amazement at the incredible dedication it takes to really go all out.
Nowadays, I like to take it down a few notches. Keep it simple. Keep it sweet.
I've created an easy gingerbread house template, one that can be frilled and gussied up if you want to take it there. But it can also be chic, simple and elegant, without too much mess and a ton of backbreaking baking.
First, pick out your décor – sprinkles, colored sugar, and candy. You will also need a good dough recipe and plenty of Buttercream icing.
Make your dough ahead of time. Plan day or two in advance when you have 30 minutes to spare and make your gingerbread dough. Roll out the dough into flat circles and chill in the fridge until you are ready to use it. Make sure to wrap it well so it does not dry out.
While your dough is baking, make your icing and prepare your work area.
Once you have everything ready, call the kids into the kitchen, relax and let the creative juices flow!
Gingerbread House dough
Makes 2 houses
- 5 to 5 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tbs. ginger
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 cup molasses
- 2 tsp. vanilla
Whisk flour, spices and baking soda together in a large bowl and set to the side.
Cream your softened butter for about 5 minutes, or until it becomes light and fluffy.
Add in your brown sugar and beat until all lumps from the brown sugar are gone and the mixture takes on a lighter color – about 4-5 minutes.
Beat in your egg, vanilla and molasses in that order.
Once this takes on a pretty even consistency, begin adding in your flour mixture little by little.
Once all the flour is incorporated, dump out dough onto a clean surface or parchment paper and roll out into two discs. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. This will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days, and can freeze for up to 4 weeks.
Once the dough is the right temp, roll out a little less than ¼" thick.
Place your templates on the dough and trace around with the point of a knife.
Remove templates and cut out pieces and place on a lined baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes.
Cool and assemble with icing and candy! Here's where kids can easily help, even if they need to be enticed with the promise of eating some of the decorations.
Notes on assembling:
- Let icing get a bit tacky before pressing sides together. You might need to use something to hold up the pieces of your house while the icing dries.
- Prepare several tubes of icing prior to assemblage. You won't want to keep refillling your piping tubes while decorating. It's a great way to keep down the mess.
Good ideas for "building" materials:
- Sweetened coconut
- Gum Drops
- Candy Canes
- Red and black licorice
- Colored sugar or sprinkles
- Starlight Mints
- Peppermint Sticks
Twinkle VanWinkle was born in a small town in Mississippi. A life-long lover of music, media and food, she grew up following those three things along her path. She has almost 20 years of professional cooking under her apron strings, feeding thousands of friends, family and other folks while working in restaurants and bakeries in Oxford, Miss. She baked 300 apple pies for the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and appeared on "The Best Of..." in the same year. Along with producing dynamic entertainment content for LIN Media, she is a mother, musician and social media fanatic.
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