December 10, 2007
  Today is Gingerbread day! The weather is cold and snowy. Good day to stay inside and work close to an oven to keep warm.
  Each year we have a gingerbread house party. When my kids were younger we would make about 15 houses and invite all of the neighborhood families to come and have their children decorate the houses. Now that my kids are older, we still decorate houses...but just on a smaller scale.
  First, I want to show you the hornbooks and sheep that I made from the left over dough. These molds are from a company called House on the Hill. They reproduce old cookie molds.
  I have three hornbook cookie molds. The finished cookies are pictured on the right. Great way for children to  learn their letters as they eat them one by one.
  Check out the following web-site for more information about hornbooks.
  The sheep mold offers a left and right version of the sheep. Bake them and then glue the sides together with frosting. A bit of string and a sprig of lavender and this sheep is ready. These were so fun to do. I spray each mold with cooking oil and the dough is easy to remove from the mold. The animals are then placed on the cookie sheet to bake.
 Now for the gingerbread houses. Today I made enough dough for two houses. (the extra made the hornbooks and sheep) I don’t try to make all of the houses in one day.
   Mix up the dough....the recipe will follow and then press the dough into the mold. My favorite house molds are from Hartstone Pottery.
  Sadly, this company no longer makes the molds. They released a series of historical home molds and the whimsical detail is outstanding. They can now be found on e-bay. Do a search for cookie molds. My husband wants me to call them and see if they would produce these molds again.
gingerbrearemovalfrommold144 copy.jpg
  Removing gingerbread pieces from the mold and placing them on the cookie sheet for baking. Spraying the mold with cooking oil makes this an easy task. I can get all the pieces for one house on a cookie sheet.
  After baking I remove the pieces from the cookie sheet and allow them to cool. I sometimes box the pieces up and freeze them until it’s “building day.”  
  On building day, I get out the glue gun and have my husband begin putting all of the houses together. I know you are shocked....but really the glue gun works great. It’s quick and the houses will be hurricane proof. I just tell the kids not to eat the glue. If you don’t like this method or if you are worried that your kids will eat the glue, not to worry, I will give the frosting recipe too. But remember, if you want to make 15 houses you might have to start in August if you are putting them together with frosting.

Molasses Gingerbread

8 cups unsifted flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter
In the mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
In a sauce pan, stir together the molasses, brown sugar and butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the butter is melted.  Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and stir until well blended. I used the hook or bread attachment on my mixer and let the machine do the work for me. Gingerbread dough is heavy.
Take pieces of the dough and press into a well oiled mold. Remove excess dough away from the mold. It’s best if the dough is even on the back side. A sharp knife works great to cut away the excess. With knife tip gently pull the gingerbread away from the mold.
Place the cookie pieces on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees 12 to 15 minutes or until the cookies are firm and lightly browned.
Carefully remove the cookies from the cookie sheet and allow to cool. I use parchement paper, but foil works well too.
This makes enough for 2 of the houses from a hartstone mold and some left over.

Royal Icing

Combine 1 pound of confectioners sugar, 3 egg whites, and 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar in a mixing bowl. Beat with the mixer ahd low speen until blended. Then beat at hight speed for about 10 minutes. The icing is ready to use when a knife drawn throught it leaves a clear path which holds its shape.
This makes about 2 cups of icing. If you need more do not double the recipe. Make another batch.

Next time we will complete the houses. Get your glue guns ready!