Making a very nice gingerbread to display in the house is perhaps one of the most enjoyable activities this Yuletide seasons that even children can get involved. It might seem that making a gingerbread house is so complicated because of its intricate details; but the truth of the matter is that it's considerably a fairly easy task. All you have to do is boost up your creativity and know the basics in baking. The following details are the step-by-step instructions on how to make a wonderful gingerbread house.
First is to gather all the necessary ingredients for the gingerbread dough. Here they are:
6 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
4 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons of ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
1 1/2 cups of brown sugar
12 tablespoon of softened butter
2 large eggs
1 cup of dark molasses
1 tablespoon of water
Note that it is not necessary to follow the exact amount of ingredients; the bigger the gingerbread, the more ingredients is needed. After gathering and measuring all the ingredients, it's now time to combine them altogether. First is to whisk all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Sift the flour to prevent curdles.
Next is to beat the softened butter and brown sugar until it appears fluffy and well-blended. Beat the eggs, water and molasses in a separate bowl until well combined. Using an electric mixer will make the task a lot easier.
After that, the flour mixture should then mix with the molasses mixture. Blend them together until it turns into soft dough. Kneading is easier using a mixer's dough hook. Add more flour mixture if the consistency of the dough is too soft. Wrap the dough using a plastic wrap and chill it on the refrigerator for two hours. After getting it from the fridge, let it rest in a room temperature for ten minutes before rolling.
Prepare the cutting tools to cut the dough according to the pattern. Cardboard patterns must be prepared ahead of time to lessen the time preparation. Make sure that the measurements have accurate proportions so the ends of the pattern will meet once being assembled.
The next step is to make the gingerbread house pieces. Unwrap the dough after resting it for several minutes and divide it into two. Spread either a parchment paper or a wax paper on the flat surface to get ready for rolling. Dust the paper with flour. Get one portion of the dough and flatten it using a rolling pin. The desired thickness of the dough is 1/4 inch. There are two remedies if the flour turned out too soft; one solution is too dust more flour or wrap it and return it back to the freezer. It is best that the flour is hard enough before cutting it with the pattern for it not warp during the cutting process.
Once the surface of the dough is even, lightly dust some flour so the pattern won't stick on the dough. Place the pattern on the dough as many patterns that will fit. Use a small sharp knife to cut out the dough. If the dough is hard enough, cut out the paper using scissors. Grease the cookie sheets with oil and place the dough together with the wax paper. Again, put as much pieces the oven rack can accommodate. The oven rack should also be preheated to the oven at 350°F. At the same temperature, place the oven rack with the dough. Wait for 11-15 minutes and keep in mind to rotate the cookie sheets half way through baking. While still warm, lay the patterns back on the gingerbread pieces and trim the parts that warped. After that, cool the pieces while preparing for the royal icing.
Royal icing will serve as the mortar to hold together all the gingerbread pieces. The ingredients for the royal icing are egg whites from two large eggs and 2 2/3 confectionate sugar.
Pasteurized or liquid egg whites is preferable if the gingerbread is meant to be eaten. Whisk it well and fill the pastry bag to start assembling the gingerbread pieces.
The icing process is the perfect time for children to intervene. This is when it really helps to have more than two hands working together. Now, look for a solid base for the gingerbread house to start assembling the pieces. Start by putting together the two pieces. Pipe some generous amount of icing on the edge down to the base. Icing the interiors rather than the exteriors will make it look a lot presentable but it will be quite difficult if working with smaller gingerbread pieces. It's very important to give ample time for the icing to harden to ensure stability before putting on the other pieces. Oftentimes, the roofs are the last to put on to complete the entire structure of the house. Pipe some more icing on the seams of every edge on the house.
Gingerbread pieces are quite brittle that they easily break. If this happen, it is good to bake extra gingerbread pieces. However, mending the broken gingerbread pieces can also be done by simply putting some icing on the broken part. It will surely end up with a crack but additional embellishments can eventually cover those cracks making them unnoticeable.
Colorful candies can make the house more appealing on the eyes. Coated chocolate candies are good since they don't melt easily. Aside from colorful candies, other cookies can also be used as decorative pieces. There are no fast rules on how the candy should be arranged, but make sure that the arrangement of the colors will create harmony. The royal icing is again very useful when putting on the decorations. The icing itself can be a very nice nice decoration too. Just prepare icings with different colors and start painting the gingerbread house.
For the final touch, spray some clear lacquer on the gingerbread house if it is just to be displayed. This will extend the life of the gingerbread house. However, doing so makes the gingerbread house inedible. Gingerbread house can be a perfect center piece on the dining table. But make sure to inform everyone especially the kids that it's not meant t to be eaten if sprayed with clear lacquer. Cover it with plastic at night and make sure to keep it dry and cool.
The entire process of making a gingerbread house might be very exhausting, yet the outcome is truly gratifying once people get to see and appreciate this work of art. Don't be too perfectionist with the architecture just too make the gingerbread house to look perfect. This will only spoil the enjoyment of making and having one at home.