Oh my goodness our house smells good, don’t you just love how gingerbread makes the house smell deliciously like Christmas! We have been busy baking gingerbread around here, and just as busy eating it. On the week leading up to Christmas the Girls eat a lot of gingerbread. We have made gingerbread ornaments for the tree, gingerbread cookies for Maya’s class, and this year for the first time ever, a gingerbread house.
The gingerbread house was a spur of the moment whim. After spotting some in the window of a cake shop I went home and drafted a little house pattern. I made a batch of gingerbread, cut out wall and roof pieces, and baked them. I had the girls decorate it with white frosting that I make by ‘feel’ using only water and confectioners sugar. They each had a squeeze container that I filled with the frosting, and I had them decorate the pieces before we assembled the house so that the frosting could be applied on a flat surface. We let the frosting set and then I pieced it all together, gluing it with the frosting. Nanna was a great help at holding the walls while it set. I did not want to rely on a card board box insert to help it hold shape, and instead patiently and carefully layered the frosting into the seams. I could not have done it alone, it took an extra set of hands – thank you Nanna! I loved that we were all working together on this little house, it felt special, and it felt like Christmas. I am proud to say I was not even tempted to add candy decoration. The frosting is more than enough sugar, and I liked keeping our house artificial flavor and colour free. It looked so simple and sweet with the snowflake/star on top and the little gingerbread men by the door. Maya was very proud of it and went to great effort to keep it in tact with an adorable sign only a six year old could make!
It was fun to make, but even more fun to eat it. We loved that we were able to share it with friends, devoured in a few moments by four little girls! I did not feel too bad letting them eat it all as gingerbread is healthy in the world of cookies, considering the small amount of butter and sugar, and the high iron content of molasses. I use the Joy of Cooking recipe, with a rich organic blackstrap molasses, which makes our gingerbread very dark. Gingerbread cookies are an annual tradition for us, and you can find more photos of our process, here and here. I am looking forward to making another gingerbread house next year! Happy Holidays!
Gingerbread (from the Joy of Cooking)
Preheat oven to 180˚C
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup Molasses ( I use an organic blackstrap molasses, which give the very dark colour)
3 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 to 1/3 cup water
Cream butter and sugar, add molasses, beat well. Sift flour, resift with spices and soda. Add to gradually to the butter and sugar. It will be very dry. Then add the water, the quantity depending on the consistency you want. Shape well with hands and then roll out. I roll it out onto the cookie sheet and cut the shapes on the cookie sheet, then remove the excess. That way you do not have to transfer the delicate shapes. If you are making ornaments, be sure to put the string/ribbon holes in the cookies before you bake them. I do it with a skewer. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack before decorating.
To make the icing I mix a few drops of water into confectioners sugar. The water goes a long way. When I get the consistency right, firm enough to sit, but liquid enough to flow, then I put it by spoon into squeeze bottles I bought from an art store.