SMiLes by Meg

Gingerbread House

Like everyone else on Instagram, I decided this was the right weekend for a gingerbread house. Next weekend is Cookie Weekend (if you live in DC and want a box of cookies, please let me know!) and the weekend after that is Ravioli Weekend and the weekend after that is Christmas, so there really was no other time to do this.

I’ve had a set of gingerbread house cookie cutters for a couple of years now, but hadn’t yet successfully baked the components in a way that they would fit together to make a house. I decided I needed a recipe for gingerbread that wouldn’t spread at all when baked to make this work properly, and as much as I love my mom’s recipe, they do puff a bit in the oven, making construction difficult.

This recipe did not spread at all, and the flavor is pretty good (though the cookies are on the tough side). I think it will go best dipped in coffee or hot chocolate over the next couple of weeks.

I’m also including a recipe for royal icing, which worked very well. I think I’ve included other recipes in the past (including a version with egg whites from my very first blog post), but this one takes the cake for being both structurally sound and resilient. We made the icing, put the foundation of the house together, then went out for a two hour bike ride, and when we got back the icing (which we left at room temperature with a damp towel over the top) was still perfectly fine to use.

First, make the dough the night before you want to make the house. Shout out to Laura who hung out with me via zoom while I did this part of the process, which was almost as fun as her actually coming over to bake with me. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and egg white with a fork and set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for a couple of minutes, until light and creamy.

Add the sugar, brown sugar, molasses, ginger and cinnamon and continue to beat for another couple of minutes.

Reduce speed to low and beat in the egg mixture.

Add the flour mixture and beat until dough comes together.

Divide the dough in half and pat into disks. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to bake, roll out one piece at a time, using plenty of flour, until 1/4-inch thick. I rolled and re-rolled a number of times to make sure I had enough dough for all of the pieces. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate for 15 minutes before baking for 15 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Next, make the royal icing. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the meringue powder, water and confectioners sugar on medium speed for 5 minutes, until stiff peaks form. I forgot to take pictures of this, but hopefully it’s straightforward enough.

I did take a picture of my cookie cutters:

And even though they look like they would all slot together nicely, we still had to do a bit of fixing. So here’s a picture of a not-very-happy Erik using a paring knife to ensure the joints work properly:

Erik wanted to be biking, not building a gingerbread house. Fortunately we got to do both.

This is where we left it while we biked:

When we came back (with a much happier Erik), we decorated!

As I said, I intend to leave this on the counter and eat it with hot cocoa/coffee/tea all week. I already ate the gingerbread man.

Enjoy!

Gingerbread House

Ingredients:

Gingerbread

  • 2 1/4 cups (10 ounces) flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 egg white, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (2.25 ounces) light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Royal Icing

  • 5 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 1/2 cup minus 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 pound confectioners sugar

Directions:

Gingerbread

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and egg white with a fork. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until light and creamy, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add granulated sugar, light brown sugar, molasses, ginger and cinnamon to stand mixer and beat until incorporated.
  5. Add egg mixture and beat on low speed to combine.
  6. Scrape down sides and add flour mixture, beating until dough comes together.
  7. Divide dough in half and shape into disks. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  8. Roll out disks, one at a time, to about 1/4 inch thickness, using plenty of flour on the surface. Cut cookies and transfer to baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  9. Chill baking sheet in fridge for 15 minutes before baking at 350°F for 15 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Royal Icing

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together all ingredients on medium speed for about 5 minutes, until stiff peaks form.
  2. Use piping bags to assemble and decorate house. Use lots of candy!

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