Saturday, January 17, 2015

Gingerbread Houses & Christmas Cookies in January

 We planned on making a gingerbread house on Christmas Eve this year so we could have it fresh and eat it for Christmas breakfast. It had been a few years since we had taken the time to make one.

I made the dough up the night before. I have a delicious recipe that I altered from The Joy of Cooking that I will share below.

Of course Christmas Eve proved to be WAY too busy for baking and, again, I was much too ambitious about all I could accomplish in one day... as usual. So the gingerbread dough went in to the freezer.

I remembered it in there this last week. The kids were greatly excited to hear that I had kept secret an entire grocery bag of candy for the gingerbread house.

We were given a gingerbread cookie cutter set and had great plans for altering our edible house by building an addition onto the typical structure.
 S. got out his protractor and did some figuring to get the right measurements. I ended up not making enough sides despite his accurate figuring and we already used the rest of the dough for headless gingerbread men, deformed Christmas trees, and of course cute fuzzy bunny cookies.

We ended up being stuck with a bunch of random house parts that wouldn't fit together plus I was too lazy to make the appropriate icing for glue so nothing was sticking together properly no matter how hard I tried to make it work. I was sorry that my math guy wasn't able to see the results of the fruits of his labor.

After being a little bummed we ended up with a good solution though and it was much easier than trying to construct a 3 demensional house out of cookie.

We simply just decorated the cut out pieces. It worked very well that we had cut out 3 of the gable sides of the house and little S. didn't care that he got a roof piece to decorate.

I wanted to share what we did because it was fun; there wasn't any fighting about what candy should go where, everyone had their own little "house" of their own. It was easy too.

There are gingerbread cookie cutter sets available to buy, also there are a lot of plans available online to print off and use the cut paper for proper demensions.
Here are a few links to some free pdf files :

Or it is an excellent homeschool activity for your geometric inclined children to create their own or use a pattern and alter it. We have made them all these ways.

Gingerbread House Dough

This will make plenty of dough for a large ginger bread house and a few extra gingerbread men and other cookies.
beat together:
12 tablespoons or 1 1/2 sticks butter
1 1/4 cup sugar of choice
2 eggs
1 cup blackstrap molasses
1 tsp vanilla
then add slowly and mix thoroughly:
6 cups all purpose flour (I use King Arthur)
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 1/2 tsp finely grated or diced fresh ginger
4 tsp gr cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
This dough should be set aside for a few hours in a gallon size plastic bag. It can also be refrigerated up to 3 days before. (or in my case... 3 weeks in the freezer)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Have several cookie sheets ready. 
This time we rolled the dough out directly onto the cookie sheets and cut them out on the sheets. Typically we just use a lot of flour and do it the old fashioned way.
Joy of Cooking suggests rolling it between wax paper with a little flour.
*Either way you will want to roll out to 1/4 of an inch thick. and place the pieces on the cookie sheets about 1 inch apart.
Bake the cookies and house pieces 11- 15 minutes until just beginning to darken at the edges, you want them to still be a little soft when you remove them from the oven.
If your going to assemble the house you should use a double batch of royal icing, 
If just decorating  the sides like we did you may use any icing you want. We used premade cookie icing that Wilton makes. I loved not having to make icing this time :)

The fresh ginger chunks in the cookies are so great, it made them very addicting!
Who says it has to be Christmas to make festive cookies?
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