National Gingerbread House Day & Recipe - Dec. 12

    National Gingerbread House Day & Recipe - Dec. 12

    Dec 04, 2019

    What is National Gingerbread House Day?

    Dust off your baked architectural skills, National Gingerbread House Day is on December 12! Whether you’re a cookie building expert or your baked house falls apart as soon as you get the third wall glued on with icing, we can all agree the best part of building a gingerbread house is eating the sweet treat when we‘re done!

    Nothing brings in the holidays like the smell of fresh baked gingerbread. But before the decorative cookie led the popularity contest on the holiday dessert table, baking gingerbread was acknowledged as a specific profession. In the 17th century, only professional gingerbread bakers were allowed to make gingerbread, except at Christmas and Easter, when anyone was allowed to bake it.

    Gingerbread was also considered a form of popular art in Europe. Molds often displayed actual happenings by portraying new rulers, their children, spouses, and parties. Substantial mold collections are held at the Ethnographic Museum in Toruń, Poland and the Bread Museum in Ulm, Germany. According to some food historians, the tradition of making gingerbread houses started in Germany in the early 1800s. The first gingerbread houses were the result of the well-known Grimm’s fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel.” After this story was published, German bakers began baking ornamented fairy-tale houses made from gingerbread. They were brought over to America by German immigrants and became popular during the Christmas season.

    Gingerbread House

    • Level: Easy
    • Total: 1 hr 30 min

    1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

    1/2 cup dark brown sugar

    1/4 cup light molasses or dark corn syrup

    1 tablespoon cinnamon

    1 tablespoon ground ginger

    1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

    1 teaspoon baking soda

    2 cups all-purpose flour

    2 tablespoons water

    For assemblage and decoration:

    Melted white chocolate or Royal Icing, recipe follows

    Gumdrops, licorice and peppermint, as desired

    Royal Icing:

    1 pound (3-3/4 cups) powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy

    1 to 2 large egg whites, or substitute 4 teaspoons packaged egg whites and 1/4 cup water

    1 teaspoon almond extract, vanilla or lemon juice

    Directions

    1. Gingerbread House: In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and baking soda together until the mixture is smooth. Blend in the flour and water to make a stiff dough. Chill at least 30 minutes or until firm. 
    2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
    3. Cut out the following paper patterns for the gingerbread house template: Two rectangles, 3 by 5 inches, to make the front and back of the house. Two rectangles, 3 by 5 1/2 inches for the roof. Two pieces for the ends of the house, 3 inches wide at the base, 3 inches to the roof line, and slanted to a peak 5 1/2 inches from the bottom. Four smaller rectangles, 1 1/2 by 1 inch for the roof and sides of the entryway. And one piece, 2 inches wide at the base, 1 1/2 inches to the roof line, and slanted to a peak 2 1/2 inches from the bottom for the front of the entryway. 
    4. Roll gingerbread dough out to edges on a large, rimless cookie sheet. Place paper patterns onto the rolled out dough. With a sharp, straight edged knife, cut around each of the pieces, but leave pieces in place. 
    5. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 15 minutes until dough feels firm. 
    6. Place patterns on top of the gingerbread again and trim shapes, cutting edges with a straight-edged sharp knife. Leave to cool on baking sheet. 
    7. Place royal icing into pastry bag with a writing tip and press out to decorate individual parts of house, piping on decorations, windows, door, etc., as desired. Let dry until hardened. 
    8. Glue sides, front and back of house together at corners using royal icing. Place an object against the pieces to prop up until icing is dry (it only takes a few minutes). 
    9. Glue the two roof pieces to the pitched roofline of the house. Then, similarly, glue the sides and roof of the entryway together with icing. Attach the entryway to the front of the house. 
    10. Continue decorating the house, gluing on gumdrops, licorice and peppermint, as desired.

    Royal Icing:

    1. Mix all of the ingredients together using an electric hand mixer, until the icing is smooth and thin enough to be pressed through a pastry bag with a writing tip. Add more lemon juice, if necessary.