How to build a gingerbread house without crying

Prep time: 10 minutes | Inactive time: 1 hour, 15 minutes | Cook time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

-1/2 cup light molasses, golden syrup or honey
-1 cup light brown sugar
-14 tablespoons (1 stick + 6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
-Zest of 1 lemon
-4 teaspoons ground ginger
-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-4 cups all-purpose flour
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 large free-range egg, lightly beaten

Directions:

1.Pour the light molasses into a large saucepan with the sugar, butter, zest and spices and melt over low/medium heat, stirring frequently until the sugar has dissolved.

2.Increase the heat to bring the mixture to the boiling point. Remove from the heat and beat in the baking soda. The mixture will froth up at this point as the baking soda reacts — mix briefly until combined, then let cool for 15 minutes.

3.Sift the flour and salt, then using a wooden spoon or stand mixer, fold it into the mixture in batches. Using the wooden spoon or stand mixer, beat in the egg until just combined. Do not overwork the mixture or the cookies will spread during baking.

4.The dough will be very sticky to begin with, but do not add any flour. Scrape out of the bowl onto a clean surface and knead together until just smooth. Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

5.Dark gingerbread dough recipe

A stronger, spicier dough and visually darker because of the use of dark molasses.

Yields 2-1/4 pounds

Prep time: 10 minutes | Inactive time: 1 hour, 15 minutes | Cook time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:
-1/4 cup dark molasses/black treacle
-3 tablespoons light molasses, golden syrup or honey
-1 cup dark brown sugar
-14 tablespoons (1 stick + 6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
-Zest of 1/2 orange
-4 teaspoons ground ginger
-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-4 cups all-purpose flour
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 large free-range egg, lightly beaten

Directions:
1.Pour the dark and light molasses into a large saucepan with the sugar, butter, zest and spices and melt over low/medium heat, stirring frequently until the sugar has dissolved.

2.Increase the heat to bring the mixture to the boiling point. Remove it from the heat and beat in the baking soda. The mixture will froth up at this point as the baking soda reacts — mix briefly until combined, then let cool for 15 minutes.

3.Sift the flour and salt, then using a wooden spoon or a stand mixer, fold it into the mixture in batches. Using the wooden spoon or stand mixer, beat in the egg until just combined. Do not overwork the mixture or the cookies will spread during baking.

4.The dough will be very sticky to begin with, but do not add any flour. Scrape out of the bowl onto a clean surface and knead together until just smooth. Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

Tip:

If using honey in either recipe, then be aware that it can cause your dough to spread a little when baked.

Royal icing recipe
Yields about 1-1/2 cups

Ingredients:
2 cups powdered sugar
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon water

Directions:

*Sift the sugar into a large bowl. Add the beaten egg white and lemon juice.

*Whisk with an electric mixer on low speed so you do not incorporate too much air into the icing for 2 to 3 minutes until you have a smooth, but not wet, stiff peak consistency. It should be dense and spreadable but hold a stiff peak. If it looks dry and crumbly, add a little water. If it looks slightly runny and glossy, add a little extra powdered sugar.

*You now have stiff peak icing for sticking houses together and placing decorations onto your gingerbread house. Transfer it to a bowl and cover it with a damp cloth to prevent it from drying out.
*The icing can be prepared ahead and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

You can adjust this icing to make soft peak and flood icing:

*Soft peak — Add a drop of water at a time until you have icing that holds a soft peak but does not spread on its own. Use for piping lines, borders and decorations.

*Flood icing — Add a teaspoon of water at a time until you have a thick but runny icing that smooths out on its own within 15 seconds, but not so runny that it runs off the edge of your cookie. Use for filling in outlined areas of cookies. Each recipe will give directions on which type of icing you will need.

Tips:

*If you have no piping bags, make your own by twisting a tight cone out of parchment paper, or use a small plastic food bag and cut one corner off.

*If you do not have piping nozzles, you can just cut the end of the piping bag off. Note that a nozzle will give you better results as you have more control.

*Only half fill the piping bag with icing so it does not ooze out of the top when you squeeze.

*To make chocolate icing, substitute 3/4 cup of cocoa powder in place of an equal amount of powdered sugar.

|She Knows

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