Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gingerbread Village

The baking/cooking has been pretty slow around here recently.  Which is a little odd considering it is the holidays and I should be doing a lot of it, but I have been a little distracted with our gingerbread village.  I have been doing gingerbread houses with my kids since my son was about two. They have always enjoyed it, but the houses were usually a little sad looking with just one or two pieces of candy in one giant puddle of icing,  but this year that they really got into it and were able to help out, so we went a little crazy with the gingerbread.  We started with a village kit and then added our own castle.  Aggie helped out with the dough and Liam helped cut out the pieces.  I did the assembly solo and then let them go at with the decorating.  Liam is now able to use a pastry bag on his own, I finally broke down and got some bag closures from Wilton and they make a big difference.  Aggie still needs help so she told me where she wanted the icing and I piped it for her, which makes the process a little less frustrating.  Nellie is still just into eating the candy, which proved a little frustrating for the other two, but is all part of the process.  
I have always loved making gingerbread houses and always attempted to make them when I was little, but often found the process very frustrating and failed more than I succeed.  But after many trial and errors I finally have a recipe for both the house and the icing that works and makes it much more stress free.   The gingerbread is very easy to work with and as long as the shapes are cut on the baking sheet they keep their shape nicely and don't distorted when bake.  The icing is a basic royal icing and dries very hard, which is good when there are small candy monsters in the house who like to pick away at the house. 

Gingerbread Recipe
1 c. Crisco (shortening)
1 c. Sugar
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt
1 c. unsulphered Molasses
1 tsp. Ground Ginger
1 tsp. Cinnamon
5 c. Flour
4 Tbs. Water

Preheat oven 350
Mix the first seven ingredients until well blended.  Add flour and water, mix until dough forms.  Working with small amounts of dough, roll out between two sheets of parchment to 3/8" thickness.  Move dough to baking sheet and cut out desired shape.  Remove unwanted dough.  Bake 10 to 15 minutes depending on size of shape. 

Royal Icing
2 lbs. Confectioner Sugar
4 Tbs. Meringue Powder
10 to 12 Tbs. Warm Water

Mix confectioner sugar and meringue powder together.  Slowly add water until icing forms still peaks.  When working with icing keep covered with damp cloth.