Want to try building a gingerbread house this year? David Collier suggests these recipes for gingerbread and royal icing as well as tips on how to decorate your edible construction.
- 1 cup vegetable shortening
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup dark molasses or corn syrup (dark gives dark colored dough; corn syrup gives light dough...or use half molasses and half corn syrup for a medium colored dough)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 4-4 1/2 cups of flour
- 1 pound (1 box) powdered sugar
- Egg whites
For the gingerbread: Warm the first 3 ingredients in a pot over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in spices and baking soda. Using paddle attachment in mixer, combine flour and liquid mixture till soft dough is formed. Divide the dough into manageable portions and wrap in plastic (to prevent the dough from drying out). Roll and cut into desired shapes and bake at 375 degrees F for 6-12 minutes.For the royal icing: Place powdered sugar in mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add egg white while running on low till icing is desired consistency.Tips for decorating your gingerbread house: To get started, make sure to get a template for the house — you can buy gingerbread houses and just decorate, or you can make the gingerbread from scratch and construct the house at home. You need lots of royal icing and an assortment of candy in different colors and sizes. For candy decorations, make sure to unwrap all of the candy and place each type in separate bowls. You don't want have to unwrap candy while the royal icing begins to harden. After you make the royal icing, transfer it to a pastry bag fitted with an icing writing tip. You can also put in a zipper freezer bag and cut a small hole at the corner to pipe the frosting. Keep the pastry bag tip covered with a damp paper towel at all times when not in use, otherwise the icing will harden.Start by covering the gingerbread house base with royal icing snow and more candies, continuing around all four sides. Make sure to cover the seams with candies — it's colorful and fun and also hides any mistakes. Next, move on to the roof — lay down 2 or 3 beads of icing before applying roofing material. Don't forget about the back of the house! The more candy, the better...Some people like to eat their gingerbread house, but you can also preserve it to use as decoration next year. You need to spray it with clear acrylic. Make sure you do this in a well-ventilated area and with cardboard behind it to catch the sprays. Let it dry completely and give it another coat. When it's completely dry, store it in a box until next Christmas. Don't forget to let friends and family know that it's not edible.
If the dough is difficult to roll you can heat it gently in the microwave, knead again and then roll it.