Make some holiday memories and enjoy a tradition that gives everyone a chance to channel their inner Frank Lloyd Wright — Learn how to make your own gingerbread house!
Tight on time or just want to skip the baking and jump right to the decorating? Pick up a pre-made gingerbread house kit. These kits come with pre-baked pieces ready to assemble, along with decorative candy, icing and instructions.
For those of you who want to do the baking yourself, here’s a gingerbread recipe from the Food Network website that’s easy to follow and tastes great. You should plan for approximately 1.5 hours in prep time and 15 minutes of baking time. Recipe yield: enough dough for one gingerbread house.
- 1 stick butter
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup light molasses
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons water
- In a bowl, add all ingredients expect for flour and water. Mix until creamy. Blend in the flour and water to stiffen dough.
- Chill dough for at least 30 minutes (maximum 2 hours) in the refrigerator. While the dough is chilling, use stiff paper and cut out patterns for the roof, sides, chimney, front and back walls of the gingerbread house. Patterns can be found online and printed if you don’t want to draw your own.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- After dough has chilled, use a rolling pin to roll dough to about ¼ inch thick. Move the rolled dough onto a cookie sheet.
- Place patterns onto the rolled out dough and cut around each pattern. Leave pieces in place on cookie sheet and remove excess dough.
- Bake for 15 minutes until dough feels firm.
- Let gingerbread cool thoroughly before decorating or assembling.
While the gingerbread is cooling you can prepare the icing to be used as both decoration and the “glue” to hold everything together. If you’re concerned about using raw eggs, here’s an easy-to-make recipe from the Food Network that uses pasteurized eggs:
- 3 ounces pasteurized egg whites
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- Food coloring (if desired)
- In a large bowl combine the egg whites and vanilla and beat until frothy.
- Add confectioners’ sugar gradually; mixing on low speed until sugar is incorporated and mixture becomes shiny.
- Beat on high speed until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks (approximately 5 to 7 minutes).
- Add food coloring and mix until you achieve your desired color. Transfer icing to a pastry bag or heavy duty storage bag (if using storage bag, clip corner to pipe icing).
Time for everyone’s favorite part—assemble and decorate! Here are a few helpful tips:
- Don’t assemble your gingerbread house right away. Instead, consider decorating the sides of the house while the pieces are lying on a flat surface. This way gravity won’t interfere and cause decorations to slide off. This tip works especially well when young children are doing the decorating.
- Kids (and adults!) love decorating with candy, but you can sneak in some healthier alternatives too! Dried fruit (e.g. cranberries, bananas, raspberries, etc.), sunflower seeds, pecans, pretzels, popcorn and shaved coconut are all alternatives.
- When using the royal icing to glue the parts of your house together, place your house in between stacked books or other tall, sturdy objects for support until the icing dries completely.
As a fun final step in this holiday activity, ask kids to tell you a story about the people who live in their gingerbread house. They could even write their story down, add some drawings and turn it into a short book to give as a gift to a family member!
For other great “gift of time” activities (and free downloadable “gift of time” vouchers to give as gifts!) be sure to visit www.SOSClorox.com/GiftofTime.
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