Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Gingerbread House

Happy Christmas to all!!! I hope you've had a lovely holiday; to celebrate, today we're going to jump ahead several food items so we can make something a bit more festive!

"Snow was falling thickly upon the castle and its grounds now. The pale blue Beauxbatons carriage looked like a large, chilly, frosted pumpkin next to the iced gingerbread house that was Hagrid's cabin, while the Durmstrang ship's portholes were glazed with ice, the rigging white with frost" (Goblet of Fire 404).

Until today, I had never made a real gingerbread house. The closest I came was sticking graham crackers to milk cartons in preschool and covering them with gumdrops. But since I'm a former Disney cast member, I had it it my head that my gingerbread house skills must be formidable. What did I learn? I learned that gravity works. And patience is a virtue which I do not possess.

Anyway, I found this gingerbread recipe at the Food Network. Their royal icing recipe is dreadful, so I recommend you find a different source for your icing cement/snow. Here we go!

You Will Need:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup light molasses or dark corn syrup
1 Tbs cinnamon
1 Tbs ground ginger
1.5 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbs water
plus royal icing and candy decorations

To yield enough gingerbread to make Hagrid's house, I doubled the recipe.

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, and baking soda until smooth.

2. Blend in the flour and water until smooth, making a stiff dough. Chill a least 30 minutes or until firm.

3. While chilling, make a paper template of all the pieces you will need to build your gingerbread house.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
5. Roll out the gingerbread dough on a large, rimless cookie sheet. Place the paper patterns on the dough, and cut around them with a sharp, straight knife, but leave the pieces in place.

6. Bake for around 15 minutes, until firm (15 minutes was probably a little too long, the bread was a bit too brittle when finished).
7. Once baked, cut around the shapes again and allow them to cool completely. This is the time to make your royal icing. Again, don't use the recipe included with the gingerbread one we're using; it's wretched.

8. Once cool, use your royal icing to glue on any candy decorations (you can, of course, do this once the house is assembled, but gravity works after all, so sometimes it's better to embellish while the walls are still flat!). I used Necco wafers to imitate the stones on Hagrid's house... while still being gingerbread house-y.

9. Use the royal icing as cement, and glue your walls both to the "ground" (a piece of cardboard works well) and too each other. Allow the walls to set fully together before adding the roof or pressing on any additional decorations.

10. Once the walls are set, slather "snow" on your roof pieces and place them atop the walls. Hold them in place until the icing sets, or you'll have the same dilemma I did!

And now your gingerbread house is ready to display and/or eat! Unfortunately, I was not very timely with my construction, and had to rush at the end, as guests were arriving for Christmas, and as you can see.... well, my "iced gingerbread house that was Hagrid's cabin" looks rather more like Hagrid's cabin after Bellatrix blew it up at the end of The Half-Blood Prince. So give yourself LOTS of time! Regardless, it was fun to make! I will say that this gingerbread isn't quite spicy enough for my taste, but it is very strong and suitable for making houses! Happy Holidays to you all!

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