I love the smell of Gingerbread houses — the vanilla frosting mixed with the spices from the gingerbread makes it feel like Christmas time. 3 years ago, when I was still working, our department decided to participate in the annual gingerbread house competition. It was so much fun to come together as a team and even though we didn’t win, I think we had a great time making the gingerbread house.
My son has been making gingerbread houses in school and we keep it around the house for a while because I love the smell of it and it feels like Christmas for a little longer in the new year too.
This year my son volunteered to bring Gingerbread people to school. It was his brilliant idea (!!!!!!) to include people in their gingerbread houses and when the teacher said they are difficult to find, he volunteered to bring them himself (?????). Well, since I love baking, I didn’t complain and took up the project.
I made vegan gingerbread cookies last year, but I wasn’t sure if they are sturdy enough to be used by kids in their gingerbread houses, I went straight to my absolute favorite sire — King Arthur and found this no fail gingerbread cookie recipe that can be used to make just about anything including houses, ornaments and even people.
After mixing all the ingredients for the dough, it is refrigerated for at least 1 hour to up to overnight to give the flavors to mingle. Also the dough is a bit sticky to work with before chilling, but after refrigeration, the dough is very easy to work with.
1EggLarge (or use 1tbsp egg replacer whisked with 3tbsp water)
For the Royal Icing:
Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Then stir in brown sugar, molasses, salt, ground cinnamon, ground ginger and ground cloves or allspice.
Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and let cool to lukewarm, about 5~8 minutes. Beat in the egg or the egg replacer mixture.
Whisk flour, baking powder and baking soda in another mixing bowl.
Stir in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix well until all the flour is well incorporated.
Transfer the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. The dough is quite sticky at this stage. Using wet hands or wet dough scraper, pat the dough into a large disc. Place another parchment paper right on top of the dough and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour, several hours or overnight is truly best for the most flavor and for ease of working with the dough. My dough was in the fridge for about 24 hours and the dough was very easy to work with -- it was not sticky at all and very pliable, almost like play-doh.
When ready to make the cookies. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and sprinkle lightly with more flour on top. Roll the dough to an even thickness of about ¼". Cut the cookies using the cookie cutters. Use a pastry brush to remove any excess flour on the top of the dough.
Place them on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 9~13 minutes, make sure to keep a close eye on the cookies because they might burn really quickly.
Let cool for a few minutes, then transfer them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
Make Royal Icing: Combine all the ingredients for the icing in a bowl. Beat until smooth. Transfer into a piping bag (with a small tip) or a ziplock bag (snipped at the corner) and design the cookies as elaborate as you can fancy.