Holiday Gingerbread Cottage
Since Victorian days, making a gingerbread house at Christmas time has been a popular project for the whole family to enjoy. But they don't have to be solely made for that holiday, Valentine's Day, Easter, Birthdays and Halloween cottages can also be made. They take several hours to complete, youngsters will enjoys the process more if you build it in stages, baking one day, decorating the next and doing other activities while waiting for the icing to set.
Materials 17 x 14-inch baking sheet
Decorating bag with a tip that has a 1/4-inch round opening
Poster board (to cut out the pattern pieces)
Two 14 x 10-inch doilies (optional)
11 x 11-inch medium weight cardboard
Recipe for the Gingerbread;
1-cup white granulated sugar
1-cup dark molasses
6-cups all purpose flour
2-teaspoons ground ginger
2-teaspoons ground cinnamon
Ingredients for the icing;
3-large egg whites
3/4-teaspoon cream of tartar
1-box (16oz.) confectioners sugar, sifted (4-1/2 cups)
Shredded coconut (optional)
Food coloring (to color icing and coconut, if you like)
Step 1...In a large bowl, with an electric mixer set on high, beat the shortening, granulated sugar, molasses and water until smooth and creamy. In another large bowl, combine the flour, ginger, cinnamon and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. mix to form a stiff dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap; refrigerate for 1-hour.
Step 2...Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease the 17 x 14-inch baking sheet. Place half of the dough on the baking sheet. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to cover baking sheet. (Steady the pan by setting it on a dish towel). Lay pattern pieces on the dough, and cut around them using a sharp knife. Carefully remove dough from around patterns. Remove poster board. Bake dough pieces for 15 to 20 minutes or until dark brown. Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes; remove to a rack to finish cooling. Repeat with remaining dough, except omit the door piece and cut the back wall without the door.
Step 1...To prepare the icing, let the egg whites stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. In a medium-sized bowl, with an electric mixer on high, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually beat in the confectioners sugar, continue beating for 7 to 10 minutes or until very stiff. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Step 2...Overlap the 2 doilies on the cardboard; tape in place. using the rubber spatula, swirl half of the icing almost to the edge of the doilies, building up edges. Sprinkle with coconut (if using). (Note here; coconut can be colored to match the holiday, ie, white for snow, green for grass, etc). Cover remaining icing with a damp cloth or paper towel and refrigerate until needed.Using the decorating bag and tip, pipe icing on the bottom and inside edges of front wall and set in place on base. Pipe icing around the bottom and outside edges of one sidewall and place against the front wall to form an L shape. Repeat this procedure with the other side and the back to form a rectangle. (for added strength, pipe extra icing along the inside joints of the cottage). Allow to set for 1 hour or until icing is very hard.
Step 3...Pipe icing along all top edges, reinforcing corners with extra icing. Position 1 roof piece at a time on the house, With someone holding the roof, reinforce the peak with a line of icing. Allow icing to set for 5 to 10 minutes.
Step 4...To make the chimney, pipe icing on 2 square pieces, position the pointed pieces between them to form a square, pressing lightly. When chimney is firm (about 30 minutes). Set in place on the roof; reinforce seams and fill in cracks with icing. Set the door in place.
Step 5... Pipe icing decoratively on roof, under eaves and around windows. Decorate with candies as you like, using icing to glue candies in place.