I absolutely LOVE the smell that fills your home when your making gingerbread during the holidays. Not every year, but most years I try to bake a batch on Christmas Eve. Tomorrow will be no exception. One of my favorite memories was making gingerbread houses from SCRATCH. Back in 2008 when I was dating model guy "R", I decided to plan a fun night with his two little sisters and each of us decorate a house. I downloaded patterns off the internet for the gingerbread and made EACH PIECE from scratch. It took me all day and by the end of it, I had enough. But seeing how happy they were decorating was so awesome. I wish I had the pictures to show, but they are on the other laptop I have that crashed :(
Here's a recipe I found that has stellar ratings and the one I'll be using tomorrow.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2/3 cup unsulfured molasses
- 1 large egg
- Royal Icing (recipe follows)
Position the racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, salt and pepper through a wire sieve into a medium bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer at high speed, beat the butter and vegetable shortening until well-combined, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat until the mixture is light in texture and color, about 2 minutes. Beat in the molasses and egg. Using a wooden spoon, gradually mix in the flour mixture to make a stiff dough. Divide the dough into two thick disks and wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours. (The dough can be prepared up to 2 days ahead.)
To roll out the cookies, work with one disk at a time, keeping the other disk refrigerated. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature until just warm enough to roll out without cracking, about 10 minutes. (If the dough has been chilled for longer than 3 hours, it may need a few more minutes.) Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle the top of the dough with flour. Roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick, being sure that the dough isn't sticking to the work surface (run a long meal spatula or knife under the dough occasionally just to be sure, and dust the surface with more flour, if needed). For softer cookies, roll out slightly thicker. Using cookie cutters, cut out the cookies and transfer to nonstick cookie sheets, placing the cookies 1 inch apart. Gently knead the scraps together and form into another disk. Wrap and chill for 5 minutes before rolling out again to cut out more cookies.
Bake, switching the positions of the cookies from top to bottom and back to front halfway through baking, until the edges of the cookies are set and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on the sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire cake racks to cool completely. Decorate with Royal Icing. (The cookies can be prepared up to 1 week ahead, stored in airtight containers at room temperature.)
- ROYAL ICING
- 1 pound (4 1/2 cups) confectioners' sugar
- 2 tablespoons dried egg-white powder
- 6 tablespoons water
Make ahead: The icing can prepared up to 2 days ahead, stored in an airtight container with a moist paper towel pressed directly on the icing surface, and refrigerated.
This icing hardens into shiny white lines, and is used for piping decorations on gingerbread people or other cookies.
In a medium bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer at low speed, beat the confectioners' sugar, egg-white powder and water until combined. Increase the speed to high and beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl often, until very stiff, shiny and thick enough to pipe; 3 to 5 minutes. (The icing can be prepared up to 2 days ahead, stored in an airtight container with a moist paper towel pressed directly on the icing surface, and refrigerated.)
To pipe line decorations, use a pastry bag fitted with a tube with a small writing tip about 1/8-inch wide, such as Ateco No. 7; it may be too difficult to squeeze the icing out of smaller tips. If necessary, thin the icing with a little warm water. To fill the pastry bag, fit it with the tube. Fold the top of the bag back to form a cuff and hold it in one hand. (Or, place the bag in a tall glass and fold the top back to form a cuff.) Using a rubber spatula, scoop the icing into the bag. Unfold the cuff and twist the top of the bag closed. Squeeze the icing down to fill the tube. Always practice first on a sheet of wax paper or aluminum foil to check the flow and consistency of the icing.
Traditional Royal Icing: Substitute 3 large egg whites for the powder and water.