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December 25, 2014

My Very First Gingerbread House

I was in full holiday baking mode during Christmas. On top of all the holiday treats I made for the resort's Christmas brunch and in-house guests, I also decided to have a go on gingerbread house. It was my first attempt and the result was a resounding success. I plan to do it annually using different decorations and see how my ideas and  decorating skills change through the years. It's gonna be loads of fun and I cant wait til next Christmas comes!

I've always thought that baking and building gingerbread house can be intimidating. I was surprised at how easily I managed to create one. I reread the recipes several times, visualized the step-by-step process and gave it a go.

Recipe is based from Simply

6 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt

12 Tablespoon butter, softened
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar

2 large eggs
1 cup dark molasses ( I used honey)
1 Tablespoon water

Gingerbread dough
In a clean bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and spices. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on a medium speed until fluffy and well blended. Beat in eggs, molasses and water until well incorporated.
Add half of the flour mixture into the honey mixture until well blended and smooth. Stir in the remaining flour. Knead or use a dough hook until the mixture is well blended. Check the consistency of your dough. If it's soft, add a little  more flour.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before rolling out.

I followed the measurements of the patterns from the same website except for one. Instead of 6 1/2" x 7", I measured the roof's width and height an inch smaller.  I used my ruler, drew the dimensions on a stiff cake board  and cut them out.

How to bake gingerbread pieces:
Preheat oven at 350 F. Divide the dough in half. Lay dough on a wax paper on a flat work surface. Dust the paper lightly with flour. Use a rolling pin to roll it out onto an even thickness of 1/4 inch. Be sure to check if your dough sticks to either the rolling pin or your work surface. If it sticks, dust with more flour.If the dough becomes too soft, you can put it back in the freezer to harden.
Rub a little flour on the surface of the dough to avoid the patterns from sticking. Place the patterns and cut the dough using a small sharp knife. (I found it easier to cut the dough with a cutter). I cut out the door and windows at this point as I thought it was easier to cut an unbaked dough.
Space the cookies an  inch apart. Transfer the wax paper with the cookies onto a flat cookie sheet.
Bake until the edges are just beginning to darken, 11-15 minutes for the larger pieces, 6-8 minutes for the smaller pieces. Rotate the cookie sheet half way through baking for even browning.
Cool completely.

How to assemble:
I used melted sugar to put all the pieces together. It glued them well and fast. All you have to do  is place  2 cups of white sugar in a heavy saucepan, melt sugar over medium heat. Once the sugar  caramelizes, dip the edges and stick them together.It works like magic!

 I used fondant to make candy canes and Christmas wreath. I also used M & Ms, royal icing, pretzels, sprinkles and gummy candies to decorate it. I had so much fun decorating my first gingerbread house! Try it for yourself.



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