Mid-December 1997, I was still in 7th grade at the time….. Mrs. Mullen my math teacher offered her students extra credit for creating a gingerbread house and bringing it to school. She provided the recipe and templates, all we had to do was fork out money for the ingredients (our parents lol :D) and let our creative juices flow. Besides receiving extra credit, the gingerbread houses were all entered into the school’s annual gingerbread house contest. Students as well as teachers judged the housed based on creativeness, technique, and over all appearance. The grand prize was a $10 gift certificate to Baskin Robins and the honor of having your gingerbread house displayed in the main office. Guess who won?
It’s been 8 years since I’ve created my very first ginger bread house. Sadly, the recipe Mrs. Mullen gave me in 7th grade along with the template had all been recycled. So, this time I had to start from starch. Mrs. Mullen’s recipe was for “real” gingerbread, the kind you would eat. My recipe is for “fake” gingerbread, meaning it’s only good for decorating. Reason being, the real recipe called for honey, spices, molasses, and butter, but since the completed gingerbread houses usually sits for a week as part of the holiday decorations….you probably don’t want to eat. Thus, why waste expensive ingredients on something you’re just going to throw away? Traditionally, the gingerbread house as well as all the decorations that go on it are glued on with royal icing, but in my “fake” version everything is held together by hot glue from a glue gun. I figured if you not going to eat it, might as well use something that will hold faster, less messy and easier to work with, and more economical. So here’s my recipe for “fake decorating purposes only gingerbread”.
For the house:
-1 cup shortening
-1 cup brown sugar (or white sugar with brown coloring)
-2/3 cup water
-2 tsp baking powder
-6 cups flour (approximate)
**Cream together sugar, shortening, and eggs until fluffy. Add baking powder, water and flour alternatively until everything comes together and forms a heavy dough. Roll (1/4 inch thickness) cut and bake at 350’f until golden. Cool and glue together with a glue gun.
Stained Glass Windows:
-Life savers or any type of transparent colored hard candy
**Crush life savers, and fill into the windows of the house about 5 mins before they are finish baking. Once the candy is melted, use a tooth pick to “merge” the colors together. The candy will harden as it cools and become stained glass windows for the house.
“Snow” (Very thin royal icing):
-1 ½ - 2 lbs powdered sugar
-3/4 cup water
*Mix the two together, add more sugar if too thin and more water if too thick. The consistency should be thick and syrupy (drizzle some icing on it’s self using a spoon, if the icing disappears with in 15 seconds it’s good to go). Spread some on the roof of the house and around the base to make snow. Sprinkle on some grated coconut or cake glitter for some sparkle. Can also let the icing dry a bit and pipe it on using a pastry bag and a writing tip.
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