Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lesson 6- A Holiday Gingerbread House

In high school, my German teacher offered us extra credit once a year. The assignment was to build a Lebküchenhaus--or Gingerbread house--completely from scratch and completely edible. I only attempted this feat once; I failed miserably. Seven years later I decided it was time to try again. And so I did. This one wasn't such an epic failure.

Gingerbread Recipe:
* 1/2 C. shortening
* 1/2 C. sugar
* 1 tsp. baking powder
* 1 tsp. ground ginger
* 1/2 tsp. baking soda
* 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
* 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
* 1/2 C. molasses
* 1 egg
* 1 tbsp. vinegar
* 2 1/2 C. all-purpose flour

1. In a mixing bowl beat shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in molasses, egg and vinegar until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in remaining flour. Cover dough about 3 hours or until easy to handle.

2. Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease a cookie sheet. On a lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough at a time until 1/4 inch thick. Using a pizza cutter and premade stencils cut dough into desired shapes. Place 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheet.

3. Bake for about 10 minutes or until edges are light brown. Cool on cookie sheet 1 minute. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
(From Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook)

Royal Icing Recipe:
* 1 lb. confectioners' sugar
* 1/2 C. egg whites (3 large egg whites)
* 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

1. Place ingredients in a large mixing bowl and combine. Scrape down sides. Turn the mixer to high and beat until thick and very white. Mixture will hold a peak. This should take at least 7-10 minutes.

The most difficult step in the process is constructing the house. Lucky for me I had my husband to help! But even with him helping the frustration almost sent me into a fit. Yes, I'm 24 and still throw the occasional temper tantrum. The best tip I can give you is do it slowly allowing each 'joint' to dry before adding a new piece. Also, a blowdryer really helps!

Once all the icing as dried and your house is stable, comes the fun part: decorating! Pretty much any dry, edible is fair game. We used marshmallows (roof shingles), Dots (siding), mini candy canes (more siding and decorations), and chocolate chips (more decorations).

It's simple, but beautiful. I think so, anyways!
Merry Christmas and Frohe Weihnachten!

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