December 9, 2011 12 Days of Christmas:: Gingerbread
Growing up we never made or had gingerbread at Christmas. However, for about 4 years, our tradition has been to decorate gingerbread houses together. Thanks to the fact that you can now buy the entire house pre-built is a big bonus.
However, as easy these kits are, I can’t help but want to make and assemble my own house. This year has left me with the same lack of satisfaction again.
I have no one to blame but myself. I am a procrastinator. I am not a perfectionist. That combination leads to a house that looks like it really was built in tornado alley Oklahoma. (or earthquake Oklahoma.)
I have learned a few pointers however. Next time I attempt to make the house myself I will not make it edible. I will cook that dough until it is harder than a brick. I will not wait until the morning of to assemble the house. While assembling the house together, it needs to be completely dry before adding the top or candy.
The kids made, for a craft at our Christmas party, gingerbread ornaments. Although they are not made for consumption, I think it makes a better shape for houses. The downside to them was that Daphne (our dog) ate about four or five of them. Now that I know how much she loves them, I am more careful to keep them out of reach.
Apparently googly eyes and buttons don’t go down so easily in a dogs throat.
There are 5 out of 10 left. We hung them high on the tree. Needless to say.
Here are a couple of Gingerbread recipes that I recommend. The first one is edible, and the second is for ornamental purposes only. (and for dogs. No, not really.)
(Dough must be chilled overnight before baking)
1 c. butter or margarine
1 c. sugar
1 c. molasses
1 egg beaten
1 tbsp. vinegar
4 1⁄2 to 5 cups sifted flour 1 tbsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon 1⁄4 tsp. salt
1. Place butter and sugar in a large bowl. Heat molasses in sauce pan stirring constantly and bring to a boil. Pour over butter and sugar mixture. Add vinegar. Stir until blended and set aside to cool. Once completely cooled, add egg.
2. Sift dry ingredients together, stir into molasses mixture, and mix well. Chill overnight.
3. Roll chilled dough out on a smooth surface to 1⁄8” thickness; cut out shapes of your choice. Place on a greased cookie sheet about 1” apart. Brush with cold water.
4. Bake at 350 for 8 to 10 minutes. Once the gingerbread shapes have completely cooled, you can begin building your gingerbread house.
***One important thing that I have learned is that you should roll the dough out onto parchment paper. After cutting your shape, remove the excess. If you try to move the gingerbread after it is rolled it will stretch. Also keep the dough cold. Re-cool your scraps before re-rolling them out.***
Gingerbread (for ornaments)
4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup molasses
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1. combine flour, ginger, molasses, butter, baking powder, salt, and milk in a larger bowl. Chill.
2. Roll out dough to thickness of 3/16 to 1/4 inch on to parchment paper or a greased cookie sheet.
3. Cut dough using a template or cutters. Remove excess. You can use a sharp knife and press a decorative design into dough. If using for ornaments, punch a hole using a straw towards the top.
4. Bake in a 350 preheated oven for about 15 minutes. More or less depending on thickness.
5. With a spatula remove from pan immediately to cool on baking racks.