Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ta-Da! Gingerbread House Tutorial

So, you want to make a Gingerbread house of your very own? Well, roll up your sleeves and get ready to have some fun and then sweep the kitchen floor afterward! Below is a tutorial for a simple gingerbread house construction.
You can print and cut out the templates below if you like. I hope these will work, let me know if you have trouble with them. They should print at 100% of the size they should be!?! You may need to adjust your paper trimming a bit to make sure your lines are as straight as you want them. Me? I prefer the lines just a bit off, but the tops of the end pieces (the pointy part) and the roof pieces work best if they are straight lined.
The house part templates:
The Gingerbread Recipe: (You can make this a few days ahead and keep it in the refrigerator)
1/3 Cup soft shortening (Crisco)
1 Cup Brown sugar
1 1/2 Cups molasses
2/3 cup cold water
6 Cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. Baking SODA
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Allspice
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
In a large bowl: Mix shortening, brown sugar and molasses thoroughly. Stir in water In another large bowl: Combine flour, baking soda and spices.
Combine the two mixtures, mixing a bit of dry ingredients into wet at a time. (This makes it a bit easier to mix!)
Mix well, roll with greased hands into one or two large balls, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until stiff and chilled.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
When ready to roll, soften dough a bit by working in your hands, or kneading into a smooth ball. Flatten dough into a pancake shape with your hands to ease rolling pin work. Flour your rolling surface to prevent sticking.
Roll out dough to about 1/8" thick. The thinner your dough, the more "tidy" and less puffy your house parts will be.
Lay the cut out templates on the dough and cut around the outside edge with a sharp knife. Peel away excess and carefully transfer cut out pieces to a lined baking sheet. You may have to tap the edges in to get them straight again, the picking up and moving process causes some stretching. I recommend cutting out your doors and windows after you have placed the large pieces of dough on the baking sheet. If you want to have the front or back door ajar, save the piece you cut out for the door and you can attach it later with frosting.
Repeat the rolling and cutting process until you have all house parts cut out and on baking sheets.
Bake pieces at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes (oven times may vary) watch for color. Don't let the gingerbread get dark around the edges. The Master informed me that there is no definite baking time-just take them out when they are a little darker than a cookie you would eat. Hmmm. Use your best judgement here. I say to err on the side of underdone, you can always put the pieces back in for a few minutes. Let pieces cool for about 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Completely cool all pieces before assembling.
To assemble:
I like to make a double batch of Wilton Meringue Powder "Royal Icing". The recipe is on the insert in the can of meringue powder. The trick with this is to really follow the mixing time in the instructions. Really. When you do it right, the frosting is stiff, but smooth and silky.
Fill pastry bag with a star or medium size piping tip, fill bag with frosting.
Wrap your base with foil or your chosen material. I usually mark the outer outline of the walls with a Sharpie marker on the base covering, while holding each piece of gingerbread on the base for a guide. This may take 4 hands. The sides should be tucked inside the ends, so account for that when you are holding pieces up.
Pipe frosting on your lines on base, leaving a space for any door openings.
Lay each piece of gingerbread on your frosting lines, tucking the sides in between the end pieces as you go. You may need 4 hands again or you can prop the pieces up with juice glasses just until you can get the seams piped with frosting.
Pipe all seams in between the pieces on the inside and out.
ALLOW FROSTING TO SET UP completely BEFORE APPLYING THE ROOF. Please. Just wait. Otherwise the weight can cause a total structural loss. No fun. This should only take about 15 minutes, but give the topless house a wiggle before proceeding to be sure.
Pipe frosting on the roof lines (the pointy parts) and lay the roof pieces on the pointy parts. Press GENTLY.
Pipe a long line of frosting along the seam at the middle of the roof.
Pipe a squeeze of frosting the width of your door, at an angle outside the house, as if the door was ajar. Stick on the door and pipe the seam between the door and the house.
Now wait until the roof has set up. Please!
Then pipe on frosting for glue wherever you want and press candy of your choice into the frosting. Go wild, have fun, be creative. You will get messy and sticky and likely have a bit of tummy aching after the inevitable snacking you will partake in, but that is all part of it.
You may have to refill your piping bag with frosting several times as needed.
Did I leave anything out?!? I hope not. Please let me know if I have, or if you have questions or need clarification or help.
Happy Gingerbread to you!

3 comments:

Ashley said...

Awesome! SO EXCITED! Thank you!

Cyndi's Re-Creations said...

Wow great job on the tutorial and love the house. That's a lot of work! But the fun kind of work looks like-

Ebeth said...

I kinda love the idea of a gingerbread house tradition! Way to go! They turned out SO SO sweet! Meagan, looks like you are getting into the Christmas season!!!! Me too!