I use a John Wright cast iron gingerbread mold and recipes for the house and icing.
GINGERBREAD HOUSE DOUGH
Cream together shortening, sugar, molasses and water. Sift together flour, spices and salt. Add dry ingredients to shortening mixture and mix well. Dough will be stiff. Chill at least 1 hour. Grease or spray mold with vegetable spray. Press dough into the mold. Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes ( I bake 30 minutes). Let gingerbread cool in the mold for 10 minutes (20 minutes is better IMO). Carefully remove each piece of gingerbread to cooling rack, flat side down. Repeat with other side, front,roof and chimney (it is not necessary to repeat people or trees). It is better to bake gingerbread a day ahead of assembling to allow for stiffening. Assemble and decorate. Yield: 1 house.
- 1⁄2 cup shortening
- 1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
- 1⁄2 cup dark molasses
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
The following recipe is for a sweet icing that will be used like “glue” to hold the house together and to deco- rate. It dries quickly into a hard (but brittle) candy consistency.
Combine in mixing bowl and mix on high speed for 7 to 10 minutes. Beat until very stiff -- you can’t over beat. Store covered at room temperature.
- 3 egg whites at room temperature
- 3⁄4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 lb. confectioner sugar-sifted
**I use Wilton Meringue Powder in place of the egg whites and save those fresh eggs to eat or bake with.
3 TBS powder plus 6 TBS warm water = 3 egg whites.
Adventures with Gum Paste:
If you want to add 3 D shapes, use Gum Paste, Fondant or a mixture of the two. The royal icing works for construction, foundation, or piped decor, but will collapse if used for large objects and is not pliable for shaping.
Gum Paste Recipe
- 4 Cups Powdered Sugar - minus one cup saved in a separate container.
- 1 Heaping TBS Corn Syrup (light) added into 4 TBS of Warm Water.
- 1 TBS Gum Tex = Tylose Powder
Add Gum Tex to to 3 cups of sugar and blend well. Make a well in the center and pour in the corn syrup water mixture. Mix well to moisten all dry ingredients. It will be lumpy - don't worry about blending it.
Spoon the mixture onto a piece of Plastic Wrap - you need to get as much air out of there as possible so wrap it closely. Then place it inside an airtight container.
Let it sit at room temp for at least 8 hours.
When you are ready to start using the Gum Paste - place some of the reserved sugar on the counter or on wax paper and begin kneading. It will be very firm to hard at first but the warmth of your hands and addition of sugar will soften it. When it has a consistency close to Play Dough it is ready to work with.
**Store this wrapped in Plastic Wrap in an airtight container. At room temp will keep 2 weeks, in fridge it will last up to 6 weeks.
Gum Glue Recipe
- 1 Cup Water
- 1/4 tsp Gum Tex = Tylose powder
Heat water in microwave to just boiling. Stir in the Tylose powder **It won't dissolve, just stir a little**
Let the mixture cool down and then cover with Plastic Wrap and let it sit overnight.
The next day the powder will be dissolved. Store in a capped bottle at room temp - will keep several months.
- I used Wilton Gum Tex = Tylose Powder.
- The amount of Tylose powder doesn't have to be exact in measurement, you can use less or more depending on how much adhesion you need.
- Practice with Play Dough to get your shapes planned.
- The Gum Paste will be more difficult to shape and will start to dry out if you don't work quickly.
- Keep a small bowl of shortening close by. Keeping your hands lightly greased improves the pliability of the Gum Paste and can rescue it when you see it drying to fast or cracking during shaping.
- Use gel food coloring - wear gloves and knead the color in well. If you know what colors you need, go ahead and mix all and wrap each in plastic wrap. ( things stick together better before the object dries).
- Support tall shapes with toothpicks or floral wires.
- The paste will stick to itself when fresh, but if an object is made with separate parts then use the Gum Glue to paste it together, using a small brush.
Baking with My Buddy
Christmas Chicken's Gingerbread Coop
- a close up tour
A final approval by Buddy before the tour begins.
Icing on the roof is very thin brushed on Royal Icing.Buddy told me the smudges are paw prints.
Bet you guessed - Buddy did the left side and I did the right side. But I think he has a lot to learn about icicles. LOL.
Royal Icing about 1/4 inch covers the ground with dried coconut on top for snow.
The Chicken Yard Fence is 4" tall Chicken Wire Ribbon. It is galvanized wire with silver glitter.
"Electric Fence " - Lights were made from flavored licorice strings
and candy coated sunflower seeds
The Broody Hen
Miss Broody started out with her back feathers really ruffled, wish I had not smoothed those down this much.
The eyes are small decorating Sprinkles candy. I tried using gum glue to add after she was dried and the glue lifts the color off of the candy and smears it on the model. It would be best to add eyes when the gum paste is soft or after dried use a food writer pen.
My original plan was for wattles and combs ( AKA Googles) but Buddy really liked making those little hats and scarfs.
The Graham Cracker ramp was broken when adding the stripes - Buddy fixed it with pretzel supports.
Little Chick, Presents and the Skittle Tree
Little Chick and Snow Angel Chick have gum paste beaks, the others all have candy coated sunflower seed beaks.
Snow Angel Chick was a challenge. Even with toothpicks in both legs, they came off and the left wing broke - glue gun rescue!
And the scarf broke and the red accent was created to cover another boo-boo. Oh, the lines on the body was texturing.
Snow man also had an accident putting on his gloves - see the base of the right arm. Man those pretzels aren't what the used to be!
I had wanted to put cuffs on the gloves, but Buddy told me to leave it and not risk further interventions.
So there you have it - there's no great secret to making a Gingerbread House Scene. If me and my Buddy Cat can do it, so can you.