Lebkuchenhaus (Gingerbread House): Eating Germany

by Karen on Friday, December 10, 2010

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This week's dish is really part cooking, part crafting, but completely edible.  Which is why I was glad to have the nimble hands of Erica from Honestly…WTF, an honestly awesome fashion and DIY blog.  Both of us were gingerbread house novices but this was surprisingly easy to make.  We used a recipe from Martha Stewart (with the addition of a few of our own changes) and within a few hours we had a charming little lebkuchenhaus that made everyone go “awwwwwww.”

Baking the Gingerbread

- 1 1/4 cups packed dark-brown sugar
- 3/4 cup unsulfured molasses
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Combine brown sugar, molasses, butter, spices, and salt in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved, about 10 minutes. Stir in the milk and remove the mixture from the heat.

Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl and add the baking powder and flour. With an electric mixer, and beginning on low speed and increasing to medium, beat until well combined. Divide dough in even fourths and shape into disks. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate overnight. Dough can be frozen up to 1 month and thaw in the refrigerator before using.

When you are ready to bake the gingerbread, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and roll out each dough disk on a lightly floured surface.  The dough will be somewhat tough so you will really have to put some elbow grease into making it thin.  Keep rolling in a back and forth motion, turning the disk of dough and flouring the pin and surface in between.  Roll until the dough is about 1/8 of an inch thick.  If the dough becomes warm from handling place it back into the refrigerator before cutting the stencils to cool the dough.

Using the pre-traced stencils, which you can download here, lay the stencil on top of the rolled out dough and cut the dough with a paring knife.  Place the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until browned, rotating the sheet halfway.  Let it cool completely.

Royal Icing

- 2 cup of powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 large egg white

Beat the egg whites in a bowl until foamy.  Add in the sugar and continue to beat until white and glossy.

To decorate your gingerbread, scoop the icing into a pastry bag with a small tip or a large ziplock bag.  If using a ziplock bag, push all the icing to one corner and snip the corner at a diagonal creating a very small hole.

Start decorating by creating fish-scale U's on the two roofs.  Trace the edges of the windows and doors with icing and add whatever additional details you'd like.  We've added dots in addition to the lines, but this is the fun part of gingerbread houses, so use your imagination!

The icing should dry very hard and wait until it has completely dried before assembling the house.

Caramel

The caramel acts as the glue that holds your house together.  When you are ready to assemble the house, start making the caramel.  Because this cools quickly and hardens you can't make this ahead of time.

- 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
- a small squeeze of lemon juice

Put the sugar in a saucepan and cook over high heat, stir the mixture until it starts caramelize and turn a deep amber about 10 minutes.  Remove off the heat and begin to use immediately.

Assembling the Gingerbread House

Dip each adjoining side of the walls of the house in caramel and hold together for a few seconds.  The caramel will harden holding the pieces together.  Once all 4 walls are held together. you can attach the roof by using a spoon or small brush to trace the V-shape and attach the roof pieces.

Assemble the chimney together and brush the bottom with caramel and attach to one side of the roof.

Finishing Touches

Now that your house is assembled you can put on the finishing touches that truly transforms this gingerbread house into a winter wonderland.  On a nice serving tray that you will be using to display the house, sift a thin layer of powdered sugar to cover so it looks like a pristine layer of fresh snow.  Place the house on top of this layer.  Add a few pine cones for trees and a couple of cinnamon sticks for wood logs.  Dust another fine layer of powdered sugar over everything.

To make the icicles, carefully and lightly squeeze a small drip of icing holding the tip close to the roof.  As you get it to your desired length, brush the tip onto the edge of the roof and the icing will stick to and hang from the roof.

Use a q-tip or your pinky finger to make little footprint imprints in the “snow.”  Add whatever other touches you'd like and you have a beautiful and charming masterpiece!

(Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart)

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{ 26 comments }

Erica December 10, 2010 at 11:29 am

Whoop whoop! This was so fun and gratifying….festive AND edible! Win Win! Can’t wait to share this on our blog. Thanks for the idea and can’t wait to do it together again next year! xx

Erica of Honestly…WTF

Nadia December 10, 2010 at 11:30 am

so cute. what a fun project to share w/ your friend. and this doesn’t look like a novice attempt, it’s perfect!

Deana December 10, 2010 at 11:39 am

This is way too beautiful to eat! You are two very talented ladies :)

New York City Girl Expat in Japan December 10, 2010 at 10:54 pm

Oh this is super.. I like the clean lines, with just a white motif… it’s so beautiful!!! You have inspired me to give it a try, and get Sebastian involved = ) …here’s hoping…

Ann December 17, 2010 at 5:43 am

Hi expat in Japan,
I am also going to try this with my 3 girls. I am not a big cook, but this looks fun. Problems are the ingredients. We’ll see.
How’s Japan?
Greetings from Belgium.
Ann

Jennifer (Delicieux) December 12, 2010 at 10:28 pm

Oh my, this house is SO cute!!!!! I love the shot with the “snow” falling down.

I’m wanting to try my hand at a gingerbread house this year (if I get time) and I love your step by step instructions. I’m bookmarking this for house building attempt :D

Sara P. December 13, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Wow! This is absolutely amazing. I love your blog, your logo and you! I am headed to Germany on the 23rd and I think I will show the Christmas markets in Heidelberg a little bit of American flare. BRAVO chefs!

Tams December 13, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Thanks for this. Have been looking for a gingerbread recipe and happily found it through a fashion blog!

Modern Country Lady December 16, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Just gorgeous!! Love gingerbreadhouses !! Great blog!! I will be covering a gingerbread house in an upcoming post, in the meantime you can see the picture of it here on this link..
http://moderncountrylady.blogspot.com/2010/12/gorgeous-and-quick-present-biscuits.html

Karen December 17, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Thanks–Looking forward to seeing yours!

Annie December 19, 2010 at 10:11 am

Very cute, I thikn we’re going to give it a try. But where did you get that awesome ring?! I love it!

Karen December 19, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Thanks– they’re Iosselliani Stacking Rings!

Tiks February 11, 2011 at 8:04 am

Hey there! I know Xmas is way past us, but I was raised in Germany and this recipe melted my heart! I have a question though, I live in Argentina where there’s a sort of, kind of, almost molasses but isn’t very sweet really, more like burnt sugar. Is there anything I can replace this ingredient with? Thank you so much in advance! PS: I’m trying your Red Velvet Cake for Valentine’s tonight, wish me luck!!

Karen February 11, 2011 at 12:39 pm

awesome! Good luck– let us know how it turns out. Great choice for Valentine’s day :)

As for the molasses not sure what you could replace it with. Molasses isn’t really sweet at all either so the ingredient you have in Argentina may work. It’s really used for the texture since the gingerbread is really more for decoration purposes than eating. As long as it’s really thick and sticky, I think you’ll be good using that!

audrey December 8, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Oh man! So amazing! I can see all the hard work you put into this, and you captured it beautifully. Well done– it looks good enough to eat. ;)

Julietta December 14, 2011 at 10:39 am

How big are the pieces for the roof part? Or did I just overread this part?

Your house looks just beautiful!
J.

Karen December 19, 2011 at 12:14 am

Thank you! the dimensions are in the link to the cut outs within the post, just scroll down…

GG December 13, 2012 at 3:46 pm

I had the same question as Julietta. As the template is just for the sides and chimney. If anyone is still wondering Martha Stewart says: “Cut out two 6 1/2-by-7 1/2-inch pieces of dough for the roof.” Yours looks absolutely amazing! Love the beautiful piping. Merry Christmas!

magda December 17, 2011 at 8:04 am

WONDERFUL!!!!! oooo i ktoś już siedzi w domku, widać kroczki…. świetnie opisane…pozdrawiam…magda

Heather Kilpatrick December 21, 2011 at 7:44 am

I learned to make gingerbread houses from a wonderful Swedish lady named Marta Toland, and she always used caramalized molassas to glue the houses together. It works great, but one second too long on the stove and it STINKS – instantly double burnt. I like using regular sugar instead much better! Thanks for the clear instructions. We are having a gingerbread house party tomorrow and i doubt the kiddos (ages 3-6) will make such elegant things, but I’m sure they will all have a blast.

Cecilie December 23, 2011 at 3:46 am

Hi!
Thanks fot this recipe! :) I have a question: is the used measure cup 250 mililitres?
Greetings from Hungary!

Laura Allars September 10, 2012 at 12:19 am

Hi! I love this recipe but have never actually made it. For food tech, we have gotten a new assignment and the theme is Christmas and I would love to do this! But I was just wondering how long it takes? Thanks

Sarah October 17, 2012 at 1:34 am

Hi,
Have a ginger bread kit from Ikea have made lots of times but this year the caramel sugar keep going soft and startinging to return to a wet state…so the house starts to collapse.do you have any recommendations to help.
? All would be very welcome.
Thanks

Tom November 8, 2012 at 4:51 pm

This recipe must need an industrial-strength mixer: my little 175W Krupps completely stalled with only 2/3 of the flour combined; finished it kneading by hand (consistency came out ok but far stickier than bread dough so at times had whole mass as a brown boxing glove)

JAcob December 5, 2012 at 12:14 pm

this looks nauty

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