Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Traditions - The Gingerbread House

I was busy last night, after the children went to bed, mixing, rolling, cutting and baking...


...following a recipe from the front pages of Janice K. Mineer's Gingerbread from the Heart, for our annual gingerbread house.


There is a house template in the book too, but since it is very similar to the template from The Recipe Link, I already have cut out, and paper clipped into the back of my cookbook, I decided to go ahead and use that one, instead.

As to the recipe, which you can also find here, on the author's website, it makes for a nice stiff, easy to work with dough (I did have to add a little extra flour).

The story is about three children decorating special gingerbread houses, to cheer up their injured grandmother, at Christmastime.

We liked the details of the difficulties the children encountered in decorating their houses - the wavering attention of a toddler, a roof that won't stay put, and a can, used as a brace, forgotten inside one of the houses. It all sounds very true to life.

There are helpful tips on the author's website, for making the assembly process easier. I'm thinking I should have followed a few more of them. I didn't forget to remove the cans...


...there's a little gingerbread man standing inside of our house instead, waiting to be found.


...but I did have some difficulty keeping the roof on. In fact, the house collapsed three times as I was trying to decorate it, mainly because I let the butter cream frosting I was using for glue, get too warm and melty. The instructions in the book suggest using royal icing, but I generally use butter cream, because we like to eat our house, and butter cream frosting tastes better.


I ended up scaling back my decorating plans. The way things were going...


...I was just happy to see the house standing on its own. I was thankful too, for the dose of gingerbread-house-building perspective from Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas, passed on this week by Natalie at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns - it's about the children and happy memories, not perfection and points in some Super Mom contest.


Speaking of children, Mineer has the children in her story building, and decorating their houses on their own, with the exception of the toddler, who has help from their mother, with a graham cracker house. It's our tradition for me to decorate the house without the children, as a sort of surprise (if a yearly tradition can really be a surprise).

I try to do the baking, and decorating when they are in bed, or otherwise occupied, and present to them a completed house sometime in the days approaching Christmas Eve. Then, they ooh and aah (as I've said before, when it comes to candy covered cookies, they aren't too critical), in the happy assurance, that if the gingerbread house is here, Christmas can't be far behind.


It's great to be a homeschooler.

7 comments:

Brimful Curiosities said...

It turned out great! I love that you make the house yourself and surprise everyone with it. Probably a good move...I don't know about you but I get a tad cranky when things don't go well and the roof slides off! We built our annual graham cracker houses this weekend (we also use buttercream frosting for mortar). Less fuss for me and the kids like using their Halloween candy for the decorations.

SarahElisabeth said...

Looks fun-my experience of gingerbread houses is of collapsing walls and roofs. Must try again.

Debbie said...

Your Gingerbread houses always turn out so nice. To be of all honesty I have never even attempted one. Maybe because I have never cared for gingerbread.

Raising a Happy Child said...

Great story! I am pretty happy that my daughter went for an annual gingerbread house decorating to a friend's house :)

Christy said...

I think it's a great tradition. I have never tried to make one, we always use a kit. No one eats it though because the kit gingerbread is hard as a rock and doesn't taste very good. Even with the kit and the awful tasting icing, we have had roofs collapse in the past!

Phyllis said...

I think this is such a sweet tradition, but my boys want to get in there and decorate themselves, so I let them. I have never heard of using buttercream icing. I didn't know it would work. We don't eat ours, so it doesn't really matter, but it was interesting to hear.

Ticia said...

I don't think any kid is critical of candy covered cookies.