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  • Dawn Hames

Gingerbread House And Cookies

Brr… Cold winter days are the perfect time to turn on the oven and do some baking. Last year I had the wonderful opportunity to spend several days in the Banff Springs Hotel and I got to see the gingerbread castle that was on display, it was probably 12 feet in the front by 4 feet deep, and approximately 4 and a half feet high, placed up on a 3-foot-high platform. While most of us will not build a gingerbread house that grand, it's fun to design one, bake it, assemble it and then decorate it. I use the cardboard from a cereal box to make the pattern, and then check the fit with some tape, before cutting it out in gingerbread dough.

Gingerbread House and Cookies

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup butter

1 egg

4 Tablespoons cooking molasses

Pinch of salt

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons ginger

Mix together the sugar, butter, egg and molasses. Add the dry ingredients and then mix. Shape into small balls about the size of a walnut. Roll the balls in white sugar. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten the balls a bit with a fork. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes. This is a moist and chewy soft centered ginger cookie. For a harder gingersnap or gingerbread men bake up to 15 minutes. This recipe can also be used to make a gingerbread house. If you are making a gingerbread house or gingerbread men, roll the dough out on a floured surface. If you are building a gingerbread mansion then you may want to double the recipe. Make a pattern for your house out of light cardboard, such as a cereal box, and cut around it with a knife on the dough. Be sure to cut out your doors and windows before you bake the pieces. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, depending on your oven. To “glue” the house together you will want to use the Royal Icing recipe.

Royal Icing

3 egg whites

About 1 pound bag of powdered icing sugar

Beat the egg whites until frothy and then slowly add the icing sugar until it is a thick consistency. Using an icing bag will make it easier to apply the icing to the house joints, but you can also use a knife to apply the icing to the cookie house pieces. If a piece breaks or cracks you can repair it with this icing. Royal Icing dries hard, so cover the icing in the bowl with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out too quickly while you are working on the house. You can also use this icing to make a log cabin with pretzels.

Decorating Tips

I have used Shreddies for shingles, glued on with royal icing, and then sprinkled with powdered icing sugar for snow. You can also use the royal icing to have icicles hanging from the house. Use soup cans to hold the walls and roof in place while the icing hardens. Stick on the candy of your choice with the royal icing. When decorating gingerbread men, you can use royal icing or buttercream icing.

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