Thing One and Thing Two’s Gingerbread House
The rain was pounding down; the wind was battering at the house. The day was looking mighty dismal and boring. Suddenly the door flew open and Thing One and Thing Two, arrived to stir things up. (Thing One and Thing Two are my daughter and her buddy.)
They blew into the house and announced, “Let’s make a gingerbread house and Christmas stockings!” I, in a storm induced stupor, said, “Did you bring a gingerbread house kit?” Thing One, (my daughter) replied very matter-of-factly, “Oh no, we are going to make it from scratch.” Well all righty then! Things were beginning to look up.
Off to the glorious and ever fulfilling internet to search for recipes and blueprints for Thing One and Two’s gingerbread house. After a bit of search, we found just the blueprint and recipe that made their toes twinkle and their hair giggle. There was one draw back, it said it would take 2 -3 days to make, they had 24 hours. The gauntlet was down.
We turned on the oven and fired up the mighty Kitchen Aid mixer. With flour puffing in the air, the dough was mixed and the patterns cut out. Their first try in making a wall was a failure as the dough was too soft but Thing Two mixed and mixed the dough with more flour still it was stiff as a board. The second cuttings of the walls and roof went perfect.
They let them cool over night and then the next day, was at it again. T minus twelve hours till lift off. Thing One and Thing Two mixed the mortar. Now the mortar or as some would call the icing, truly could be used to fix your brick fireplace. This stuff is amazing! It is a simple recipe of egg whites and powder sugar but it works great to glue things together.
Quick as a wink, they glued the walls together. Off to watch a movie with hot chocolate. Back later to glue the roof on. Then off to the sewing machine to make Christmas Stockings which were made in monster motifs, just like you would imagine Thing One and Thing Two would do. We had flour, candy, fabric, buttons and fake fur everywhere. Things were really beginning to look up as the storm still raged outside.
Next came the pebble stone courtyard for the gingerbread chapel, as it had become. Then the pathways, the bell tower and the pond. The roof singles were applied and the chapel coated with candy. It was ready for the tissue paper window installments. Cat in the Hat (Granny) got into the action with that one gluing them in the windows carefully. The gingerbread cathedral was complete! In much less time than recommended.
Thing One and Thing Two, scurried about and finished up the monster socks, swept the floor and left in a flurry. As they drove off, You could almost hear “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good day!” The place quieted down and the rain softened. Everything looked pretty much the same except for the shiny gingerbread chapel left behind, a glow with wonder. Thank you Thing One and Thing Two for the Christmas cheer and the left over fake fur from the stockings still hiding in the corner.
Here is Thing One and Thing Two’s gingerbread house recipe, blue print and mortar. (I mean icing) Hope your Christmas is filled with wonder, love and laughter. Oh and a little fake fur and icing. Oh and candy. Oh and lots and lots of hugs.
From King Arthur Flour
3/4 cup buttermilk
6 tbsp. butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 large egg
5 -6 cups of Flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
In a large saucepan, heat the butter in the buttermilk until it is just melted and remove from the heat. Add the brown sugar and molasses and beat in the egg. Whisk the spices, salt and baking soda together with one cup of flour. Add this to the wet mixture and mix until incorporated. Add flour one cup at a time until you have a smooth, stiff dough. It should be stiff enough to be flexible, but not crumbly or sticky. Divide the dough in half, wrap it in plastic and flatten it out before chilling in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
If you have an embossed plaque for a gingerbread house, you can use it to bake your pieces. If you want to make a design of your own, you can print the templates below and use them as a starting point. Or you can print out the pages and attach them to some rigid cardboard. Use a utility knife or scissors to cut out templates. These can be placed on the dough and used as a guide to cut out the shapes for your pieces.
Take one of your bags of dough out of the refrigerator, and preheat the oven to 350°F. Divide the dough into two pieces. Put one of the pieces back in the refrigerator while you work with the other half. If you have a cookie sheet with no sides, you can roll your dough out directly on it. If your cookie sheets have edges on them, turn them over and roll out the dough on the back. You can also roll out the dough on a piece of parchment paper, and use the paper to transfer the dough to your baking sheet.
Checklist of Pieces for Housebuilding
• 2 long side walls, with windows cut out
• Cut a door out of one of these walls between the windows; save the cutout piece or use
scrap dough to cut another with your template
• 2 gable end walls, with the point on top
• 2 roof panels
• Architectural details of your choice, such as chimney pieces or shutters
Roll out the dough into a rectangle that’s about 1/4-inch thick. Roll your dough as evenly as possible, covering as much of the baking sheet as possible. Cut out two side walls, and put windows and a door in one of them. Pull the cutout piece up off the baking sheet carefully and collect all the scraps. You can use them to roll out more pieces or people later.
Take the reserved piece of dough out of the refrigerator and roll it out. Cut two roof panels into that piece. Take the reserved scraps of dough and roll out, cutting two end panels from it. You can cut a window into these if you want.
Bake the gingerbread pieces at 350°F for 15–18 minutes, until the edges just begin to brown. Remove them from the oven and place the pan on a cooling rack. After 10 minutes, run a spatula under the pieces to free them up from the baking sheets. Allow the pieces to finish cooling on the cookie sheets completely.
3 egg whites*
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
4 cups (1 lb.) unsifted confectioners’ sugar
Food coloring (optional)
Vanilla, lemon, peppermint or other extract
Royal icing needs to be kept covered, because it will dry quickly and become lumpy if exposed to the air. The easiest way to store the icing for long periods of time is in a plastic pastry bag or zip-top food storage bag. If you have disposable pastry bags, using an uncut bag as a sleeve for the bag you are piping from is an easy way to keep everything from drying out.
In a large bowl, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until foamy. Sprinkle in the sugar gradually, whipping all the while. The more you whip the icing, the stiffer it’ll be and the faster it will harden up. If you want to “paint” with the icing, you can use food coloring to create different colors and thin the icing with a few drops of water so it will flow.
To Assemble the masterpiece; To put everything together, your mortar/paint/primary tool is royal icing. It’s made of egg whites, confectioners’ sugar and an acidic ingredient (you can use either lemon juice or cream of tartar.)
You’ll need a stiff piece of cardboard to use as a foundation for your house, a pastry bag to pipe the royal icing, and some props to hold the pieces in place while the “mortar” is drying. First, take a serrated knife and trim the edges of the walls, so any bumpy parts are squared off. This will allow for better contact between the surfaces that are going to be joined together.
Next, pipe a generous line of icing along the bottom of one of the side walls. Place it on your board, and use a prop to hold it upright. Pipe another wide band of icing along the bottom inside edge of the wall to reinforce it. Repeat this process with one of the end walls, making sure to put some icing on the vertical edge where the walls meet. Check to make sure the two walls are at right angles before the icing starts to set.
Use a prop to keep the roof panel from sliding down and place the first half of the roof in place. Pipe more icing along the inside seam where the pieces meet, to reinforce the joint. Let the first roof panel dry in place for at least an hour, then repeat the process with the second half of the roof.
Now is time to decorate! Have fun! Just make sure and try to make everything edible. That is the only rule. We used junior mints, candy canes, nerds, mints, crushed candy canes for snow, nonpareils, jelly beans, cookies decorations, m & ms. Sky’s the limit!
Here is a great blueprint for a sweet little Swedish Cottage. http://images.marthastewart.com/images/content/web/pdfs/2009Q4/ms_hol09_swedish_gingerbread_house_temp.pdf
Here is the blueprint for the chapel we made. http://www.kingarthurflour.com/stuff/contentmgr/files/7512947c75dd4ce76f3a611041c1fe40/miscdocs/gingerbread.pdf
I really like this ski chalet blueprint too. http://images.marthastewart.com/images/content/web/pdfs/pdf2/gingerbreadinstructionskit.pdf