Make Your own Gingerbread House
December 1, 2012 -- Right now is the time when communities are holding gingerbread house contests. If you want to step up your game this year, we have professional help.
Chef Alekka Sweeney from "Give Me Some Sugar" (www.givesugar.com), came into our ABC7 studio along with a few kids to show us tricks to make your own gingerbread house.
Tips for Making Gingerbread Houses
1. If you are not planning on eating the house, assemble the pieces with a glue gun first. Then pipe over the cooled glue with Royal Icing.
2. Make your template pieces out of a sturdy material like card board. If you like the results you can save the cardboard pieces for next year.
3. Baked gingerbread tends to spread out during baking. Use sandpaper to smooth out the baked edges. 4. Choose a sturdy solid base for your gingerbread house. You can cover the base with festive wrapping paper or aluminum foil.
5. Instead of making Royal Icing, Chef Alekka prefers the Wilton Meringue Powder" - it is available at most cake supply stores.
6. Use Cotton Balls pulled apart for snow.
7. Gelatin sheets make great stained glass windows.
8. Frosted Shredded wheat cereal used on a roof looks like snow.
Chef Alekka's Recipes:
Gingerbread House Dough
Yields- 1 - 7 1/2x3x5 1/2 house plus extra for decorations
6 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbsp) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup dark molasses
1 Tbsp water
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl, set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed the butter and brown sugar until fluffy and well blended.
Beat in the eggs, molasses and water until well combined.
Beat half of the flour mixture into the molasses mixture until well blended and smooth.
Stir in the remaining flour.
Knead (or use your mixer's dough hook) until well blended.
If dough is too soft, add a little more flour.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours, preferably overnight.
You can make it up to 3 days ahead of time.
Let sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before rolling out.
Cutting and Baking Gingerbread House Pieces:
Preheat oven to 350°F, with the oven rack in the middle.
Have several flat cookie sheets ready, preferably ones that you know will not warp in the oven heat.
Divide the dough in two.
Spread parchment paper or wax paper on a large flat surface for rolling.
Dust the paper lightly with flour.
Working with one portion of the dough at a time, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to an even thickness of 1/4-inch.
Add a little flour to the surface of the dough, and check for sticking as you roll it out.
If it sticks to either your rolling pin or the rolling surface, dust with more flour.
If the rolled out dough is very soft, you may want to freeze it for an hour before cutting out the patterns.
Rub a little flour over the surface of the dough.
Place the pattern pieces on the dough, as many pattern pieces as will fit on the dough.
Use a small sharp knife to cut out the pattern pieces from the dough, wiping the knife surface clean frequently.
Depending on how soft the dough is, you may need to use scissors to cut the wax paper or parchment paper.
You can cut out the patterns through the dough and parchment paper, placing the dough pieces with the paper directly on the cookie sheets.
If you are not using parchment paper or wax paper, you may need to use a large metal spatula to transfer the dough pieces to a greased cookie sheet.
Space the pieces on the cookie sheet an inch apart from each other.
If dough pieces stretch during the transfer process, push them back into shape.
You can cut out a door and window(s) at this point, or you can wait until after baking, soon after the pieces have come out of the oven while the cookies are still warm.
Bake in a 350 degree F oven until the edges are just beginning to darken, 11-15 minutes for the large pieces, 6-8 minutes for the small pieces. Rotate the cookie sheets half way through the baking for more even browning.
Remove the sheets to racks to cool, about 15 minutes.
While the pieces are still slightly warm, lay the pattern pieces over them and use a large straight chef's knife to trim off any parts of the pieces that have through cooking spread beyond the pattern.
Remove pieces to cool directly on racks to cool completely.
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