Not Just for Kids

 Vol. 9, No. 50
December 13 - 19, 2001 
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Make Your Own Gingerbread House from Scratch
by Martha Blume

Everyone loves the smell of gingerbread baking in the oven. Legend has it that Queen Elizabeth I of England invented the gingerbread man. Gingerbread houses became popular two centuries later, when the Grimm brothers published their fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, the story of two children lost in the woods who discover a house made of bread, cake and candies.

Today gingerbread houses delight our fancy, inspire our imagination and just plain look good.

Here’s how you can make your own gingerbread houses from scratch. Make the following pattern pieces from cardboard:

Margaret and Phoebe Blume (below) have made many fine gingerbread houses.
Make the gingerbread:
This recipe makes two houses:
  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 2 eggs

In a large bowl, measure 31/2 cups of flour. Add the remaining ingredients. Using an electric mixer, beat on low speed until well mixed. Add the remaining flour and mix by hand. Refrigerate for two hours, wrapped in plastic, or until dough isn’t sticky.

Work with half the dough on a well-floured surface. Knead until smooth. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thick. Using the pattern shapes, cut two of each shape. Place them on a cookie tray.

Repeat with the remaining half of dough.

Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Make the frosting:

  • 1 16-oz bag of confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients. Using an electric mixer, blend until smooth. Then beat at high speed until stiff.

Put it All together:
Cover a large piece of cardboard with foil to use as a base. Start putting the sides, front and back of your house together using the frosting as glue. You might need some extra hands to help hold it until it hardens. It won’t take long. Attach the two pieces of roof, “gluing” it at all around.

Spread frosting on the sides and roof and decorate your house with hard candies like peppermint, M&Ms, jelly beans, candy-coated wafers, gum drops, candy canes, nonpareils, Hershey kisses and pretzels. Make windows, doors, a chimney, fences, gates, a mailbox — or whatever delights you.

But when do we eat it?
German children traditionally save their gingerbread houses until New Year’s Day, when they take small mallets to break the houses apart. They eat the pieces to bring good luck in the New Year.

Do you know a baby born in the year 2001?

We’re collecting pictures of Bay Weekly’s newest readers to spotlight on our last “Not Just for Kids” page of the year.

Send a favorite baby picture (with baby’s and parents’ name and address; birthdate; weight)

Mail to:
Bay Weekly, PO Box 358, Deale, MD 20751 (original photos will be returned)
E-mail: (digital photos must be sent in .TIF or JPEG format at 150 dpi, no smaller than 3 inches wide).

We’ll send baby and family a souvenir copy! Photos must be received by Friday, Dec. 21!

Copyright 2001
Bay Weekly