Today is December 6 and in our parts of Europe we celebrate Santa Claus, an important day for children as Santa Claus comes home to families and either praises or scolds them for their past year’s behaviour, leaving small presents of tangerines and nuts when the children recite some Santa Claus verse. Looking out of my window I see a few snow flakes slowly drifting down, a perfect setting for today’s post: please, welcome Betsy and enjoy learning from her how wo make our own gingerbread houses.
I met Betsy at various places over the last two years and highly respect her for her insightful posts and comments, for being a doting mother of 9 children and her deep interest in genealogy and history. We have found that we share the same love for early morning hours when the house is all quiet.
Betsy Cross is a mother of 9 beautiful children, ages 4-25. She has been married for 26 years and has filled those years with art, music, writing, family history and baking gingerbread houses. She is the acting director of the Family History Center in Cataumet, Massachusetts, down the road from where she lives on Cape Cod.
And now get out your pencil, scissors, kitchen tools and all the ingredients needed and follow Betsy through her step by step recipe:
Gingerbread House Recipe
Combine in one bowl, all at once:
2 3/4 cups flour
3 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
1 t ginger
1/4 t ground cloves (optional)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup molasses (Buy at Sam’s Club by the gallon. It’s cheaper.)
1/3 cup brown sugar
Press dough evenly onto well-oiled cookie sheet all the way to edges. Bake at 300° for 12-15 mins. or until touch leaves no impression. Use template pieces to cut out house pieces immediately. Remove from cookie sheet to counter to cool and harden. You can always stick the cut pieces back in the oven for a while to stiffen even if they’ve cooled.
Frosting “Cement” Recipe
3 egg whites
1/2 t cream of tartar
1 lb +/- confectioner’s sugar
Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until fluffy. Slowly add in confectioner’s sugar until peanut butter-like consistency. Add water if too stiff, one drop at a time!
You get to make your own template because I’m too lazy to create a download! I use an empty cereal box. The measurements for the front are 7 1/2″ from base to the peak, and 3 1/4″ from base to bottom of roof. The base of the front is 5 1/2″, the measurements for the roof are 5″x 5 1/2″. The sides are 3 1/4″ tall x 4 1/2″ wide. (Just in case you couldn’t read my writing!)
I had to buy Dove Chocolates instead of regular Christmas candy because there wasn’t any in the stores, yet! (Add candy canes.) Just make sure it’s festive and shiny! (Andes candies=shutters, Waffle pretzels=windows, gumdrops and spearmint leaves-trees and bushes)
“Cement” icing. Store in the fridge in an airtight container. Should be the consistency of peanut butter.
I use a “star” tip and a regular tip (round hole) to decorate. Spread a layer of the “cement” on a 10″ cake round, OR a ceramic tile from a flooring store (ask for the discontinued tiles). You can sometimes get them for under $1 ea. Just make sure that you put felt tabs on the bottom corners to protect against scratches!
Quickly pipe “cement”on the sides of a side and front, centering them in the fresh “cement”.
Repeat for other side and back.
Add roof, door and chimney. “Cement” both wrong sides of the two chimney pieces and connect to make it thicker.
Wrap in clear Cellophane. Make sure you cut a large enough piece so that there’s plenty on top, above the ribbon.
I have made these houses every year for about 30 years. They can be sprayed with shelac and kept indefinitely!
Remember, you can:
– bring one as a”White Elephant” gift
– or a hostess gift
– use one as a centerpiece
– sell them at a craft fair
– use them for your child’s teacher’s gift
One more idea: have a House Party where attendees pay to watch a house being mixed, baked, and put together. AND get a house (miniature) to decorate and take home with the recipe and template. (Sort of like a Pampered Chef party).
And now, get going,
make your own gingerbread houses
and share your experiences in word and pictures – thanks!