Recipe of the Week: Making your own gingerbread house

This gingerbread house was 2 feet by 1 foot with a height of 1 1/2 foot. Courtesy photo

Nothing screams Christmas more than a decorated gingerbread house.

Nowadays they have pre-made kits, which is convenient, but it takes the fun out of what a gingerbread house really represents.

This recipe is a simple one to follow, with less than 10 ingredients in the dough and most of the work done by the mixer; it gives you more time to decorate the house with the kiddos.

The gingerbread house you see in the picture above is the one Jacob Allwine and I made last year at Triplett Tech in the culinary program. This house was a massive 2 feet by 1 foot with a height of 1 1/2 feet. In the culinary program, our teacher Paje Cross always challenged us to go big and that’s exactly what we did last Christmas.

I hope this recipe treats you as well as it has me, and if you have any questions on this recipe or want any more tips, please email me at chefcodyfitchett@gmail.com, and remember, best wishes from the kitchen inside my gingerbread house to yours.

Cody Fitchett

Level of difficulty: Depends on how big you want to go

Yield: 1 house

Gingerbread dough

½ cup room temperature butter
½ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup molasses
4 tsp. cinnamon
4 tsp. ginger
1 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tbsp. water

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and baking soda until well blended and incorporated. Turn your mixer on low and slowly add the flour and water until a dough forms, turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and now this is where the “do it yourself” comes in. You can do some research and go online and print out templates or just make your own. Once you have cut out your template for the four walls and roof, roll the ginger bread dough about 1/4th-inch thick and use your templates to cut out your house. Bake for 15 minutes or until the gingerbread feels firm. Let the gingerbread cool and then use your templates to trim off the excess gingerbread that expanded while baking.

Royal icing

3 ounces egg whites
2 tsp. vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites and vanilla until frothy. Slowly add the powdered sugar until all is incorporated and the mixture has a shine to it. Turn the mixer on high and beat the icing until stiff peaks form; this should take 5-8 minutes, depending on your mixer.

Decorating candy of your choice

Gum drops, pretzels, fondant, etc.

Place the royal icing in a piping bag with no piping tip. Start assembling your house by gluing two walls together (I suggest you have someone help you glue the walls together). Hold the two walls together for about 30 seconds to let the icing have time to set up.

Do the exact same thing with the other two walls and then connect the whole base of the house together with plenty of icing. Once the walls are up, glue on the roof panels and hold them in place. Now that the body of the house is built the real fun starts. Decorating the house is where the kids can get creative.

Cody’s tips: When making the icing, you want stiff peaks to form. To test, remove the whisk attachment and flip upside down. If the icing stands straight up; you have stiff peaks. If not, just beat it for a few more minutes.

I leave the gingerbread pieces out on the kitchen counter overnight so that they are rock solid and won’t buckle when you go to assemble.

Cody Fitchett, of Fort Valley, is a recent graduate of Triplett Tech in Shenandoah County. He will start a four-year bachelor’s degree program in baking and pastry at the Culinary institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, in February. Email him at chefcodyfitchett@gmail.com