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Build an Adobe Gingerbread House with Chef Allen Smith

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12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/4 cups light-brown sugar, packed
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups dark molasses
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
9 cups, All Purpose flour
2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Prepare template by printing it at 50% enlargement on heavy card stock

Choose a solid base for your gingerbread house, such as form core, thick cardboard, a cookie sheet or a large cutting board.

Make dough using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Cream butter until smooth, then add light-brown sugar and mix until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated.  Add molasses and vanilla then mix again.

Sift together flour, spices, baking soda and salt.  Mix 1/3 of dry flour mixture at a time into butter-sugar mixture; repeat until all flour is incorporated.  Shape dough into a thick disk and enfold in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate dough for 1 hour (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with silicone mats, or lightly grease them., divide dough into two sections and roll each piece On a 12” X 16” sheet of parchment paper (Or a sheet large enough to accommodate  the largest stencil) into a 1/4-inch thick rectangle of even thickness.

Place card stock templates on rolled-out dough and, using a very sharp knife, carefully cut out house elements, cutting through the parchment paper.  This is best done on a hard cutting surface.  Using a spatula, place cut-outs with the parchment paper,  on prepared cookie sheets.  Remove templates†.  Gather the scraps of dough and re-roll for the smaller pieces of the house.  Repeat the process until all of the elements have been cut. 

† Leaving the templates on the dough will increase the chances that the dough will stick to the templates.  However, this can give an interesting & rustic texture when the templates are peeled off.

Bake until gingerbread is firm and edges are just brown, about 12-15  minutes.  Leave the gingerbread on the parchment,  on cookie sheets and place sheet on a rack to cool.  

Note:  If you plan on lighting the inside of your gingerbread house with string lights, be sure to cut a hole in the base first so that the cord can be pulled through and plugged in).

Windows
2 cups sugar

To make windows, place two cups sugar in a saucepan.  Cook over low heat 10-20 minutes, monitoring sugar as it is cooking; use a metal spoon to gently move the unmelted sugar onto the hotter part of the pan.  Do not stir.

Remove pan from stove when sugar is completely melted and is an amber color.    Spoon melted sugar into the window openings.  Spread melted sugar so that the entire window is covered.  Let cool completely.  Peel paper from backs of windows.

Royal Icing
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, Sifted
2-4 egg whites
Food coloring, red, green, and brown

In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk egg whites until combined.  With mixer on low speed, slowly add 3 cups confectioners’ sugar. Continue to slowly add remaining two cups sugar until icing is thick but of spreadable consistency.  Icing can be applied with a small knife or with a pastry bag fitted with a medium piping tip.

Divide the icing into 3 containers: One container for red( a very small amount, such as 1 tablespoon, is needed)  One container for green (again, a small amount, 2-3 Tablespoons) then about 1 cup of icing for the brown. 

To make brown icing or mortar (used to attach window lintels, for example), add a small amount of brown food coloring to the icing.  To make the wreaths, add green food coloring to the icing and place in a piping bag fitted with a small tip do the same with the red food coloring for bows or berries.  The brown icing can also be used to attach pretzel vigas to the house.  
   If the icing is too liquid, allow it to stand uncovered and dry slightly or add more powdered sugar. 
 
Paste colors are the best because they tend to render a deeper brighter color without liquifying the mixture. 

Assembly
Once icing is prepared, assemble house on the selected base.  For more tidy edges, place the sides of the house inside the front and back portions.  First, pipe a line of brown icing for the front elevation of the house.  Carefully place the front piece on the base, following the line or icing, work quickly and use something to keep the pieces propped up (soup cans work well).

Pipe icing along the sides of the front elevation piece and stand the left and right sides up inside the front piece.  Finally, pipe a line of icing for the back wall.  Carefully place the back elevation, again making sure the two sides are inside the front and back.  Attach the two front pop-outs after the house has set and icing is dry, about 30 minutes.

Illumination
After the gingerbread house is assembled, place a tendered votive candle in the center or it or turn on the string lights.  The light shining through the melted sugar windows will create a charming effect.  

† Any left over dough can be rolled and cut into small cookies, baked &  stacked near the house for curious visitors to consume. 

Shopping for Ingredients

Many of the ingredients for our recipes are available directly from the Santa Fe School of Cooking. Shop Ala Cart or Purchase all the Ingredients as a Package.

Ingredients and Tools available at the School of Cooking

(4 oz.) - $36.00
Total Cost: $36

Other Ingredients

  • Flour, light-brown sugar, white sugar, confectioners’ sugar, baking soda, salt, eggs, unsalted butter, dark molasses, vanilla extract, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, food coloring – red, green, and brown food coloring, candies and decorations of your choice.