Monday, November 24, 2008

All About Gingerbreads: Part 2

Today I'll focus on the art of Making and Baking gingerbread.

First of all, the recipe!  We've found that this is an excellent recipe, as it makes for very sturdy gingerbread.  Perfect for house-making!  My mom found the recipe online, but the website has since disappeared.  If you're looking for something that actually tastes good, try a gingerbread cookie recipe.   More on that below.

Loreta’s Favorite Gingerbread Dough

5 C flour
1 t salt
2 t ginger
2 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1 t cloves
1 C shortening
1 C sugar
1 ¼ C molasses
2 eggs, beaten

You'll also need a fair amount of aluminum foil

Melt shortening in a saucepan on the stove over low heat. While shortening is melting, mix flour, salt, and spices together in a separate bowl. If you have a stand mixer, this is the time to use it! Mix together eggs, sugar, and molasses, and then add the shortening (when melted) to it. Mix quickly so that the eggs don’t cook. Slowly add in flour mixture, and mix well. Dough will be soft. Roll into several baseball-sized balls and wrap individually in plastic wrap, then place them in the refrigerator until firm (we usually do overnight).

Our dough balls, taking up an entire shelf! Granted, we DID make four batches.

When dough is firm, remove from refrigerator and let sit until room temperature (about 1 hour). Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

When ready to roll out and bake, sprinkle water onto your counter top, and then cut a piece of aluminum foil off of the roll. Place the foil down over the water. The water on the counter will prevent the foil from slipping while the dough is being rolled out. Sprinkle foil with flour.

Take one ball (2 max for a large piece) and place it on the foil. Roll out with a rolling pin that has been also sprinkled with flour. If the dough is too stiff for rolling out, microwave it for 10-15 seconds to soften it.

In this order: Counter top, water, foil, flour, dough, flour, rolling pin.

Roll dough out to about 1/8 inch. Place gingerbread house pattern pieces onto dough that has been sprinkled with flour and use a knife or pizza cutter to cut around the mold. Don’t forget the windows. Remove excess dough, and lift entire piece of foil onto cookie sheet.

Here is my mom's template, all taped together.  She pulled it apart later so that she could use the pieces for her pattern.

My mom's friend, Karen, cutting a roof piece.

Bake 6-7 minutes for small pieces, and up to 14 for large pieces. Check often to prevent burning. Roof pieces can be baked for longer, until almost burnt. This can prevent sagging later on.  If they come out a little bit warped, you can pat them into place while they're still hot.

Unused dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

When dough pieces are done baking, remove baking sheet from oven. Quickly lift foil from making sheet and place on a flat area to cool. Let them cool overnight, and gently peel foil off of gingerbread pieces. Now you are ready to assemble, or add windows!  More on that tomorrow!

A note on gingerbread cookies, as an add-on or alternative to the classic house:

We decided on Sunday to go ahead and whip up some gingerbread cookies, so that for those people who show up to the party without a pre-constructed house to work with can still get in on the decorating fun.  We used a simple Betty Crocker recipe for the cookies, and they do taste much better.  Other than the recipe and the final shapes, the method is 100% the same.  Lots of flour, rolling pins, and foil.  Oh, and cute cookie cutters help quite a bit.

Check out the awesome morning hair I'm sporting!

Our darling gingerbread men! I may have to decorate one of these guys, too.

1 comment:

Dave and Jenni said...

Wow this is quite the process - but I'm sure it's completely worth it (just catching up on the posts now)! Can't wait to see how it turns out!