Gingerbread House without Molasses
Hello you! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas. Even if you couldn't celebrate it like you normally do. I definitely had a slower Christmas than usual. We stayed in mostly. I cooked a vegetarian dinner for two, and we walked with our dog a lot. A few days before Christmas, I made a gingerbread house for the very first time. Not to eat it. But to have it as a decor centerpiece on the kitchen table.
I've never made a gingerbread house before. Assembling it was more difficult than I imagined because fitting the pieces, after they are baked and not 100% straight anymore, was challenging. I smacked royal icing on it to glue it all together, and the royal icing looks like snow. I used a gingerbread house template that I bought online. I didn't realise that it was a XXL-size mould. So I cut it into a smaller mould. I kept the rest of the gingerbread pretty basic. I'm new to decorating a gingerbread house. Hopefully next year I'll plan a little bit more time to decorate it.
Since I live in the Netherlands, and molasses is not a thing here, I searched for an online recipe that substituted the molasses. Which was very difficult to find. I ended up with making my own substitute that I've made before, which is 50% honey and 50% dark brown sugar. Once baked, the honey does not have an overpowering taste to it, and it really resembles molasses!
Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction. She shares great tips and videos!
- 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour spoon & leveled
- 1/4 teaspoon teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 Tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (120ml) honey
- 2 Tablespoons water
- royal icing as the "glue"
- assorted candies
- Make the cookie dough: Whisk the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg, honey, and water on high speed. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine. On low speed, slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. Cookie dough will be very thick.
- Divide cookie dough in half, flatten into discs (about 4-5 inches in diameter), and wrap each tightly in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours or up to 3 days.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Cut into shapes: Remove each disc from the refrigerator and roll each out in between two pieces of parchment paper. Gingerbread cookie dough will stick to your counter no matter how much you flour it. Parchment is best. Roll out to about 1/4 inch thick. You want thick pieces for your gingerbread house. Lightly flour the underside of gingerbread house template shapes. (The dough is sticky and the paper may stick to it otherwise.) Using a pizza cutter or small knife, carefully cut the dough into the gingerbread house template shapes. You will need TWO of each shape. Re-roll dough scraps so you have enough dough for the whole house. Use any extra dough to create fun shapes using cookie cutters.
- Carefully arrange gingerbread house shapes onto prepared baking sheets, about 3 inches apart. If they lost some of their shape transferring to the baking sheet, straighten out the edges.
- Bake house pieces for about 18-20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow shapes to cool completely on the baking sheets or on the counter. A flat surface is KEY for cooling– the gingerbread house edges very slightly curl up otherwise. Cooled gingerbread house pieces can be made up to 1 week in advance, cover tightly and store at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months, thaw at room temperature before using.
- Construct the base of the house: Select a base for your gingerbread house. I used a marble cheese board. Start with two pieces: the front of the house and 1 side. Using a squeezing bottle or a piping bag, run a thick line of royal icing on one long edge and one short edge of the side of the house piece. Stick it to your base. Use whatever you have around the house to help it stand up. You can also prop it up with soda cans, a tall cup, water bottle, etc. Run a line of royal icing along the bottom of the front of the house piece. Stick it to your base, adhering it to the side of the house piece. Hold the two in place for a few minutes until the icing is partially set, propping them up as necessary. Repeat with the 2nd side of the house piece and back of the house piece. Pipe royal icing inside any seams, inside and outside of the house, to fill any voids. Don’t be afraid to go heavy on the royal icing “glue” — when it dries, it looks like snow! Allow it to set at room temperature for at least 1 hour before adding the roof pieces.
- Add the roof: The roof pieces will be placed on top of the house base. Run a thick line of royal icing on the inside edges of one of the roof pieces and adhere it to the base. Hold in place for a few minutes. Repeat with 2nd roof piece. Run a thick line of royal icing where the two roof pieces meet at the top of the house. Hold in place for a few minutes.
- House must set: Before decorating, the icing on the entire house must completely set. Allow the entire house to set at room temperature for at least 3 hours, preferably 4-6 hours or even overnight before decorating. Cover and store leftover royal icing at room temperature or in the refrigerator during this time. It will be the glue for adhering candies to the house.
Recipe for Royal Icing
- 4 cups (480g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 3 Tablespoons meringue powder (not plain egg white powder)
- 9–10 Tablespoons room temperature water
- In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat all of the icing ingredients together on high speed for 1.5 – 2 minutes. When lifting the whisk up off the icing, the icing should drizzle down and smooth out within 5-10 seconds. If it’s too thick, add a little more water. (On particularly dry days, I use up to 12-14 Tablespoons water total.) If it’s too thin, add a little more sifted confectioners’ sugar.
- Icing completely dries in about 2 hours at room temperature. If you’re layering royal icing onto cookies for specific designs and need it to set quickly, place cookies in the refrigerator to help speed it up.
These are the last few days of this dreadful year. I want to wish you all a very happy, healthy, normal New Year! See you in 2021!