Making gingerbread houses is one of my favorite holiday traditions. We’ve been making them for several years now and I think I have as much fun with is as my kids. This year we are doing another “semi”-annual gingerbread making party with around 30 or more of our closest friends. I say “semi” because even though our family makes them every year we only throw a party every other year.
Since I’ve been making the gingerbread from scratch for so many years I have it down to a T. However, it occurred to me that many of our friends cannot say the same. So for any of your interested in step-by-step directions and a few tips & tricks I’ve learned along the way, read on.
This recipe works great because you don’t need to refrigerate it and it actually works better when it is a little bit warm.
1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup light/dark corn syrup or molasses.
I like to use a combination of the corn syrup and molasses for a nice dark color. Corn syrup is cheaper than molasses which is why I like to combine them. If you plan on eating your houses (which we NEVER do) you would want to use just molasses for the best taste.
Combine above ingredients in pan and melt over LOW heat.
Once it’s all melted together, remove from heat and stir in:
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Now to stir in the flour. The easiest way to do it is transfer everything to a stand mixer. You need to add 4-4 1/2 cups of flour, one cup at a time. By the time you get to the 4th cup the dough can be very stiff so a stand mixer is so helpful.
Making sure you have enough flour is key. The dough should be very stiff and not stick to your hand at all.
Now you are ready to roll out the dough. I’ve found the easiest way to do this is tape parchment paper to your counter top. When rolling the dough out it will stick to everything. I like to start with a floured surface, roll it out to about a 1/2 inch, then roll the dough up on my rolling pin and add some more flour, and then continue rolling it out. The dough can be rolled fairly thin since it will bulk up a bit when it bakes. Once you’ve got it rolled out you can take your pattern pieces (printed on cardstock) and, using a sharp knife, begin to cut out the pieces. If your dough becomes too dry you may need to heat it up again. You can put it in the microwave for 10 seconds or so. Although, I have never done that. Since I do not have a microwave I like to wrap the part I’m not using in foil and place it on the stove top of my warm oven. That works well for keeping the dough soft and pliable.
Move pieces to a baking sheet, either lined with parchment paper or sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 6-12 minutes.
Cool pieces for several minutes on baking sheet after removing from oven so the pieces have time to harden and don’t become to misshapen.
Each recipe typically makes 4 houses for me depending on how thin I roll it out.
Good luck. Hopefully, you have fun making the pieces and are able to join us to assemble them and decorate them. Looking forward to it.