It all starts here. If you want a great looking gingerbread house that will stay together for the season and be sturdy enough to hold all of that candy, you have to have the perfect recipe.
You have two main choices – do you want to use molds to make the gingerbread house pieces or make them rolling out the dough and then cutting the pieces. It is really your preference. There is a lot of detail in the molds but then you are going to be covering all or a lot of that detail with candy. Of course with the detailed molds, you always have the option of covering the window, door or roof with candy or let the roof shingles show through.
So What Kind Of Molds Should You Use?
If you are going to use molds, I’ve found that cast iron with a non stick coating work the best. My first molds did not have a non stick coating and of course that was lots of recipes ago too so between the two approximately half of the pieces were either breaking when I tried to get them out of the mold or the dough was too crispy and the pieces broke very easily. Once I
discovered the non stick coated molds and had a great recipe, getting the pieces out of the mold was a breeze and I didn’t break any of them. Of course a little squirt of a spray olive oil to the mold won’t hurt either.
There are lots of cookie cutter options out there that you can use for rolled out dough. With this option you get a nice smooth looking finish to your gingerbread house. There is no detail on the walls or the roof. You make all of the detail with your decorating with frosting and candy. It is completely a matter of preference.
And Now For The Best Gingerbread House Recipe That I’ve Found
Believe me, I’ve tried a lot of recipes! The first required cooking some of the ingredients together, letting them cool and then mixing them with the dry ingredients. If you are making a lot of houses like I always do, this is such a long process – waiting for part of your recipe to cool before putting your dough together. I prefer to make all of my dough in one day and get it in the refrigerator and then bake a couple of houses each day. That way you can assemble and deliver the houses and you don’t get too many pieces filling your house at any one time. My sisters and nieces and I make a party of making all of the dough on a Saturday in early November. We put the dough together by assembly line – someone puts the first half of the ingredients in a bowl and passes it on to the next person who adds the rest of the ingredients. Then the bowl is passed to one of the people getting in there and mixing the dough by hand and finally the finished dough is wrapped and put in the refrigerator. It works great and it is really fun. We can make dough for 25 to 30 houses in less than a couple of hours and then we just have lunch and hang out.
Ok, ok, as promised.. Here is the best tasting, most durable, prettiest (yes prettiest – it has that nice rich, deep, warm brown color) recipe that I’ve found.
Here is what you’ll need for each house:
- 1/2 cup shortening (use the sticks, one half of a stick to one house)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup dark molasses
- 4 tablespoons cold water (start with 2 and work up to 4 (you can always add more but you can’t take it out!)
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
The original recipe calls for creaming together the shortening, sugar, molassas and water, sifting the flower, spices and salt and then adding the dry ingredients to the shortening mixture but honestly, I add everything at once and then mix everything real well by hand. The dough should be stiff and slightly sticky. If it is so sticky that it is sticking to your hands, grab a little flour until it doesn’t stick to your hands. Chill at least an hour.
Grease or spray the mold with olive oil. Press the dough into the mold or roll out and cut the pieces as instructed. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the mold or pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes then carefully remove each piece of gingerbread and place on another cooling rack, flat side down.
It works best to bake the gingerbread a day ahead of when you are assembling to allow it to dry out some and get stronger. In fact, I actually like to bake it a couple of days ahead, leave it uncovered and assemble the sides on the next day and the roof a day later. Finally, if you have the luxury, don’t decorate for 24 hours after the house is fully assembled. (I learned the hard way not to put on the roof and begin right away placing heavy candy all over it only to have the roof start sliding off!) You don’t have to wait this entire time but if you can, the frosting will just keep getting harder and harder making the house so durable.
Watch for my next post where I’ll share the best frosting recipe I’ve found.
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Thanks so much and good luck with your gingerbread house. Any questions or comments, please feel free to add them below and I’ll be back in touch.