52 Weeks of Baking: Gingerbread


CasaSugar and I recently got into a debate over who could make the best gingerbread house. I hadn't actually made one from scratch ever, and was about 10 years old when I last put one together. However neither of these things stopped me from talking up how great my house would be. I had the best plans and great ideas; only problem was I didn't have a recipe and didn't know where to begin. So I did some research, rolled up my sleeves, and started mixing. The recipe I found — from Bon Appétit — actually makes way more gingerbread than necessary for one house. With all the leftover dough I decided to make a few gingerbread men. Only problem was, I didn't actually have a gingerbread-man cutter. So I used a knife and freestyled.

The end result was a gingerbread man with one arm larger than the other. I fixed that problem by piping on an icing cast. His neck also received a hairline fracture because I moved it to the cooling rack before it was ready. I covered this up by piping a little tie on him. And since he had a tie, I felt he needed a cellphone, too. No matter what you end up doing, just have a good time. I'm going to share details on my house later this week, and now I'm off to invest in a good gingerbread-man cookie cutter!

To get the gingerbread recipe I used, read more.


Gingerbread (for House or Men)
From Bon Appetit, 2000

For Gingerbread
6 3/4 cups all purpose flour
4 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 cups solid vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup robust (dark) molasses

For Icing
4 large egg whites
7 to 7 1/2 cups powdered white sugar

  1. Sift flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and cardamom into medium bowl.
  2. Using electric mixer, beat shortening in large bowl until fluffy.
  3. Add sugar and beat to blend. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Add molasses and beat on high speed until well blended.
  4. Add dry ingredients in 4 additions, beating at low speed until dough forms.
  5. Divide dough into 6 equal pieces [this is perfect for a house, and a good idea for cookies]. Flatten each piece into rectangle. Wrap each in plastic and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, at least 6 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
  6. When dough is ready, preheat oven to 350°F.
  7. Roll out 1 dough piece (keep remaining dough refrigerated) between two 15-inch-long sheets of parchment to scant 1/4-inch rectangle, turning over dough and parchment occasionally. If parchment wrinkles, peel off, smooth wrinkle and reposition parchment over dough; continue to roll out dough to required thickness.
  8. Cut into desired shapes. The easiest way is to remove the excess dough from the bottom parchment paper and slide the entire parchment paper sheet (with cut-out cookies) onto baking sheet.
    I didn't have a cookie cutter, so I free-styled.I didn't have a cookie cutter, so I free-styled.
  9. Bake until dry looking, firm to touch in center and just beginning to darken around edges, about 13 minutes. Note: this is the perfect time for house pieces, which you want to be a bit dryer, for individual cookies, start checking around 9 minutes.
  10. Slide parchment with gingerbread onto rack and cool completely. Rinse baking sheet under cold water to cool; wipe dry. Continue with rest of dough/cookies.
  11. While cookies are cooling, make icing. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in medium bowl until very foamy, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Beat until well blended. Add remaining cups sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating until well blended after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl occasionally.
  12. Beat icing at high speed until very thick and stiff, about 5 minutes.
  13. Place icing into pastry bag with a small round pastry tip.
  14. Use icing to decorate cookies or adhere gingerbread house pieces together.

Note: If concerned about salmonella, use egg white powder instead of egg whites.

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