Real Gingerbread Houses

December 1, 2011

Last year my family all got together for Christmas in a rented cabin in Upstate New York.  We had 11 adults and 5 little kids squeezed together.  It was so much fun - probably my favourite Christmas to date.  Some of the highlights of our week was the amazing food that we all cooked, and the fact that we were all actually together.  At the end of the week, when everyone was asked what they liked best about our Christmas, I think the unanimous answer was Gingerbread Houses.

Growing up, I think I remember putting together a gingerbread house from a kit or graham crackers here and there, but it was never the highlight of my Christmas.  When I married Mr. Emily however, I inherited the tradition of complex and labour intensive gingerbread houses done "the real way."  Let me tell you, it is a lot of work, but it is so much fun to make the shapes, build the houses, and decorate them in elaborate ways.  Gingerbread house building is not just for kids.

Last year, my family made a camping scene (complete with outhouse), an A-frame house (which the kids were allowed to COVER with candies) and a traditional house with a picket fence.  It was a really fun activity to do together as a family. 

Click through for the recipes for the dough, icing, and melted sugar glue (which holds the houses together better than icing ever could).

Gingerbread Houses

5½ Cups Flour, sifted
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
3 tsp. Cinnamon
2 tsp. Ginger
2 tsp. Cloves
1 tsp. Nutmeg
1 Cup Margarine
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Molasses
1 Egg
  1. Cream sugar and margarine together
  2. Add egg and mix
  3. Add molasses, spices, and flour
  4. Chill overnight
  5. Roll out to 1/8 inch thickness and cut shapes
  6. Bake on a cookie sheet covered in tinfoil
  7. Crush suckers for windows
  8. Bake at 300° for 20 minutes
  9. Cool for 5 minutes and then remove from foil
  10. Use melted sugar to join the pieces of the house
  11. Use Royal Icing for decorating the house
Melted Sugar Glue

1 c. sugar
  1.  Place sugar in heavy skillet.  Cover over medium heat, stirring occasionally until sugar melts - about 5 to 10 minutes.  
  2.  Reduce heat to super low and keep hot until ready to use.  Heat again if necessary. 
Warning: This is super dangerous - the glue is really hot and can burn easily.  It is only a job for adults. 

Royal Icing

3 Egg Whites at room temperature
1/2 tsp. Cream of Tartar or Meringue Powder
4 Cups Icing Sugar
  1. Mix the egg whites and the cream of tartar together.
  2. Add icing sugar in portions until you obtain the desired consistency.

Have fun!

1 comment:

Nancy said...

Just put ours together last night--the sugar glue was fascinating to the kiddos and sooooo much better than icing--instant adhesive without waiting and purely sugar--awesome!

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