Making gingerbread houses is one of my all time favorite Christmas traditions. The night usually goes as follows: Jordan and her mom (the kitchen wiz responsible for the squash rolls) come over with all of their supplies and we get to work. For continuity sake, Jordan will from now on be referred to as "sis" because that is how we refer to each other in real life (the sisters we never had or something like that). This tradition has been going on since the way back in 2003, when sis and I both sported braces with alternating colored rubber bands and I had a lovely pair of purple glasses. It's the perfect way to get excited for the holidays (and eat lots of candy). The finished houses are beautiful and make great center pieces for your Christmas table, or an awesome gift for friends or family.
So let's get this show on the road. Before getting started and making the dough, you will need to make cardboard templates (or paper if you're in a pinch) to use when cutting out the pieces for your house. We used dimensions very similar to those in the image below (our houses were a tiny bit smaller).
2 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ginger
2/3 cup molasses
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup oil
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1. Mix all of the ingredients together. Once mixed, form into a thick disk, cover with plastic wrap, and place in fridge for 1 hour.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Greece jelly roll pan with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Press dough into pan with fingers and heel of hand. Roll dough to uniform thickness, until covering entire pan.
3. Bake for 15 minutes then remove from the oven and roll dough again in the pan with a mini rolling pin. Return to oven and bake for 10 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and cut pieces for walls, roof, front and back, people, windows and door. Work quickly before the dough hardens. Turn all pieces over and return to oven for 10 minutes.
1/4 cup meringue powder
1/2 cup water
4 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
1. Mix together meringue powder and water. Slowly add sifted sugar until it has reached desired consistency. Add more sugar for stiffer frosting. Fill pastry bag.
To assemble, you'll need two pastry bags fitted with a number 2 and a number 27 tip. You can also use a coupler to easily switch between tips if you have one. Using a spatula or knife, smear frosting on the base of a cardboard cake base (you can find these at Michael's and other baking/craft stores). Start by piping icing on one side of an end piece of the house and one side piece, making sure to hold together with your hands for a few seconds after connecting. Continue assembling the pieces using your frosting, holding for a few seconds after each new piece is added. Once the base of the house is assembled, get decorating!