It’s the holiday season, and what better way to kick it off than with gingerbread men…and houses! Every year my sister and I decorate gingerbread houses together, always making it from scratch, but for the last few years I haven’t been able to eat any of the leftovers (which is always the best part). This year, I won’t be making it home in time for that tradition, so I decided to share it with my friends here in Boston, and to make it Jenee-edible. So, I found this recipe on Food Network, read the reviews, and got to work.
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup gluten-free flour mix (such as Silvana’s, minus the xanthan gum)
1 cup buckwheat flour (or you can use 2 cups of your gf flour mix instead)
2 tablespoons water
LOTS of candy
Makes 1 house and about 4 gingerbread men. If you’re not building alone (no judgment if you are), you might want to double this recipe.
Now, this is actually really simple, if you have the ingredients. Not everyone keeps ground cloves and ground ginger on hand, or molasses for that matter, but these are spices that I get easily from the asian markets I frequent. They’re much cheaper there and always in stock, so I like to keep them in my pantry. Never know when you’ll get the hankering for gingerbread cookies, right? (And ginger powder is actually a great spice to have regardless, I use it all the time.)
Ok, recipe. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cream the shortening, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and baking soda together in a bowl until smooth (I just used a fork), and then blend in the flour and water to make a stiff dough. (Note: I used buckwheat flour here because, like sorghum flour, it has properties very similar to wheat flour. You can use the full 2 cups of your own gf flour mix instead, but it won’t give you exactly the same results. I try to replace between a fourth and a half of the amount of flour called for with buckwheat where I can because of this.)
So, mixing your ingredients. You’ll need to use your hands and really knead all this together. Many of the bad reviews for this on foodnetwork.com complained about how dry the dough is, but it really isn’t. You just have to spend time getting it to all really bind together, like above in the picture. You will get a beautiful ball of dough, you’ll just get a forearm cramp doing it. Or a workout, however you prefer to look at it.
If you’re making a house, you can download and print this gingerbread house template I made, or you can just check out the dimensions, measure and cut on paper yourself (if you looked at the foodnetwork.com recipe, you’ll notice that they have this really fancy foyer/entryway thingy that’s 5 tiny pieces you have to measure and figure out…ain’t nobody got time for that. I just picked a place and cut out a door. You can get all fancy if you want, but I passed on that one.)
Ok, roll the gingerbread dough out on a piece of parchment paper that’s the size of your baking sheet. (You won’t want to move your pieces once cut, just remove the extra pieces from around the house shapes, because chances are they will tear. So where they end up on the parchment paper is where they stay until cooked.) I couldn’t find my rolling pin so I used a giant plastic cup dusted with rice flour. It got the job done. Place your paper patterns onto the rolled out dough and with a sharp, straight edged knife, cut around each of the pieces, and then remove the excess, back into your dough bowl. Gently transfer your parchment paper onto the baking sheet (unless you have a rimless sheet, in which case you can roll out your dough right there. Mine is rimmed.)
For edible cookies you’ll want to bake for about 15 minutes, until the dough has slightly darkened and feels firm. But for your house, feel free to cook them to death. You don’t want them to break, so almost burnt is really just fine here. Let them cool on the pan and then build away!
You can mix up some royal icing by combining a few cups of powdered (confectioner’s) sugar with 1 or 2 egg whites, first with a fork and then with an electric mixer to get out all the clumps (seriously, start with a fork, or you and your kitchen will be covered in white powder). It’s best if you let the icing sit for a little while to harden up. When it’s first made it’s a bit runny so you’ll spend more time holding together and patching up your house than you’d probably like. Or you can just buy white icing, that works too.
Now, DECORATE! And get crazy sugar high from licking your fingers. And share your finished product on all social media sites to make everyone jealous. 🙂