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.
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.
– 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.
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.
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)