How to make a gingerbread house

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gingerbread house
Nothing makes a more impressive centerpiece during the holidays than a homemade gingerbread house.

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Some helpful tips on how to make a gingerbread house

They are not as difficult to make as they might appear and it's a great way to get your children involved in the holiday festivities.

Basic instructions on how to make a gingerbread house:

Proper planning is essential when your're learning how to make a gingerbread house;the construction will closely follow the building concepts of a real house. You can make the gingerbread ahead of time, making sure to let it thoroughly cool in a dry area before wrapping securely to store. • Cut the basic structure templates for your house from posterboard and test first by taping the pieces together. If it will stand as made out of posterboard, then most likely it will be structurally safe for your gingerbread house.

• Don't limit yourself to a plain box house. You can make virtually any shape, from igloo to Victorian to farmhouse. Or, use a loaf mold (available online and at arts & crafts stores) in the shape of a house to eliminate the construction steps.

• Prepare a base for your house. Use a piece of plywood covered with foil, a large heavy platter or baking tray. You will want to be able to move the entire structure easily..

• Keep in mind that the dimensions of your gingerbread house will be restricted to the size of a 12-by 15-inch baking sheet, so cut your templates accordingly.

• Maximum thickness for dough should be 3/8-inch. For houses larger than 6 inches square, use 1/4-inch thickness and for smaller houses, use 1/8-inch. Weight-bearing walls should be just slightly thicker.

• If you want the walls covered in icing, you may need to thin the icing with a few drops of water and then spread gently on the sides before assembling. Let sit for the icing to dry.

• When assembling, apply the "cement" icing (see below)using a pastry bag, and let sit for 30 minutes to set before actually assembling. This will help the pieces adhere better, resulting in a more stable structure. You're well on your way to learning how to make a gingerbread house!

• When assembling, apply a generous (but not dripping) amount of icing glue to one side of the joint. Press un-iced piece to the iced edge and hold briefly until the icing sets. If you want more stability, you can also icing-glue the walls to the base.

• For the icing decoration, use a pastry bag with various decorating tips or a knife. You can easily fill in gaps and smooth construction errors with icing and candy decorations. Wipe off smudges or drips with a clean, damp paper towel.

• To apply candy decorations, dab a small amount of icing to the underside of the candy and hold in place until set.

• You can use dough scraps to roll out added decorative cut-outs to be applied with icing glue. These cutouts can be impressed with designs before baking.You'll show that you really know how to make a gingerbread house!

Ingredients 1-1/2 cups whipping cream 1 teaspoon vanilla 2-1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar 2 tablespoons baking soda 1 tablespoon ground ginger 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1-1/3 cups light or dark molasses 9 cups all-purpose flour

Instructions: Whip cream and vanilla until cream holds soft peaks. In a large bowl, mix sugar, baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon. Stir in molasses and cream. Gradually add flour, mixing well. On a lightly floured board, roll out a portion of dough until it's flat but still thick enough to pick up easily without tearing. Place it on a greased and floured 12- by 15-inch rimless baking sheet. Finish rolling dough on pan, supporting the rolling pin on equally thick wooden strips placed along opposite edges of pan. Use about 2 cups dough for each 1/8-inch-thick slab, about 4 cups for each 1/4-inch slab, and about 6 cups for each 3/8-inch slab. You can bake up to 2 pans. of dough at a time in 1 oven. Bake dough until fairly firm when pressed in center - in a 300 degree F. oven, allow about 1 hour for 1/8-inch-thick slabs; in a 275 degree F. oven, allow about 1-3/4 hours for 1/4-inch slabs and about 2-1/4 hours for 3/8-inch slabs. After 30 minutes, remove pans from oven and place pattern pieces close together on the dough; with a sharp knife, cut around pattern edges; lift off pattern and scraps. (Later, bake the scraps to eat.) Return both pans to oven, switching their positions, and finish baking. Cool in pans for about five minutes, then remove with spatulas. Transfer to a rack to finishing cooling. Decorate and assemble structure with icing cement or wrap pieces airtight and store up to 1 month.

Icing Cement With an electric mixer, beat 2 large egg whites, 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar, and 2 teaspoons water until frothy. Mix in 3 cups sifted powdered sugar; beat on high speed until icing is stiff, 5 to 10 minutes. Use, or cover up to 8 hours. Makes about 1-1/2 cups.

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