Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Stick With What You Know ... Gingerbread Houses

My husband has a saying ... "Stick with what you know".   So today, when I had planned and baked ahead and was all ready to post about making gingerbread houses, things started falling apart, and this saying haunted me.
I made my gingerbread last night and left it to chill in the fridge overnight.  This afternoon I got it out and assembled everything to begin cutting out the cookies.

I had my cookie cutters all ready ... some are very old, from my grandfather's family ...

Most of them I've had for many years.  The large tin gingerbread man cutter was the first cookie cutter I bought after I was married ...
I rolled out the dough, and cut out the shapes.  So far ... so good!
I've made this recipe for about 25 years now, and I never have trouble with it.  I've made the Royal Icing before too ... many times ... but I've never tried to cut the recipe in half.  And that's where things went wrong today. 
I cut the recipe in half, but what do you do when the original recipe calls for 3 egg whites?  I put 2 egg whites in half the mixture, and after beating it for the required 10 minutes, it still did not become stiff.  So I added more icing sugar ... no luck.  I tried putting the pieces of the gingerbread house together anyway ...
But half an hour later, it still wasn't set.  It might set eventually, but not in time for today's post.  And I wanted to post today because it's Tea Party Tuesday with Sarah.  While I stood there with the beater's whirring away for over 20 mintues(!!), all I could hear in the back of my mind was my husband saying "Stick with what you know". When I'm rushed and feeling a little under pressure, I really shouldn't try something new.  It almost always flies back in my face.
At least the cookies turned out well, and my family will enjoy eating them.  Here's the recipe if you'd like to try them yourself.
4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground allspice
3/4 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar 
1 cup light molasses
2 tbsp rum or water
Stir together flour, ginger, baking soda, cloves, nutmeg and allspice.
In another large mixing bowl beat butter 30 seconds.  Add sugar; beat until fluffy.
Combine molasses and rum. 
Add flour and molasses mixtures alternately to beaten mixture; beat well.  Divide dough in half, flatten into thick disc.  Cover and chill several hours.
On a floured surface (or use icing sugar instead of flour ... thanks for this tip Kathy!), roll dough, half at a time, to 1/8-inch thickness.

Cut out with a 4 to 5-inch gingerbread man cookie cutter ... or ...

Cut into house shapes as follows:
    -  two side walls
     - one front wall with peaked roofline
     - one back wall with peaked roofline
     - two slabs for each side of roof
*See Note

Place on a greased baking sheet.  Bake in 375F oven about 8 minutes or till set and slightly darker around edges.  Remove from oven, and while cookies are still warm, take a sharp knife and trim up any edges that may have become misshapen.  Cool cookies 1 minute on baking sheet.  Remove to rack; cool completely. 
(Dries Rock Hard)
4 cups icing sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
3 egg whites
Sift icing sugar and cream of tartar into bowl.  Using electric mixer, be in egg whites.  Beat for 7 to 10 minutes until thick enough to hold its shape.
Makes 2-1/2 cups

*NOTE:  I make up a paper pattern for my gingerbread house first so that I know the pieces will fit together well when cut out.  Roll the dough out on waxed paper.  Lay the paper pattern on the rolled out cookie dough, and cut around the shapes with a sharp knife.   Transfer the cookies with the wax paper, and carefully remove the waxed paper before baking.
Thanks for stopping by!
Kathy of Kathyinozarks is having a wonderful Christmas Basket Giveaway on her blog.  She has some amazing handmade gifts from both her own studio and three of her creative friends.  Be sure to check it out ... you could be the lucky winner of these gifts from all four contributors!
Linking up today with: 


  1. Your cookies look delicious! I do hate it when things go wrong in the kitchen - I hope your icing sets for you! I've never attempted a gingerbread house, I'm a bit frightened of it not turning out lol!!

    Thanks for linking up & enjoy those scrummy looking cookies!
    Sarah xx

  2. I don't use eggs but how about if you need one and a half eggs beaten. Beat three eggs...half the mixture and make meringues with the rest.
    Jane x

  3. What a shame Wendy, but I wouldn't worry about it the cookies look lovely and will taste good too. I have never attempted a ginger house myself I think you are very brave for even trying. it's always the same though if you are making something for a special occasion something always seems to go wrong. :)

  4. The cookies look great. I never cut baking recipes in half anymore as every time I've done so they turn out oddly. Oh, and remind your husband that you for everything you know there was once a time when you didn't. You have to start somewhere! ; }

  5. Well, it might not have gone as you planned, but the cookies look great and I am sure it will all taste wonderful - I mean how could gingerbread not! I hate it when I get comments like your husbands, they are so unhelpful to me. I was baking tonight and had a similar experience with the comment thing. Oh well, he won't be having to eat any of it - he won't get the chance ha! as I am taking it out with tomorrow!! Hope that your other endeavours are going well, whatever they may be. xx

  6. Hi Wendy we were both working with gingerbread this week-and got out our beloved cookie cutters-I love that. you know I looked at that royal icing recipe-its the one my mom always used-but then I remembered it dries out really fast if not careful-and I didn't think I wanted to use 3 egg whites-so I ended up using what I know best-just the confectioner sugar a little water and flavored oils.
    so sorry your house did not not turn out the way you wanted-I have never tried that yet-I did make a gingerbread bowl once-that made a nice presentation with the gingerbread cookies inside.
    hugs Kathy

    1. ps thank you for the link back for the giveaway

    2. At least you make a whole house Wendy, something I've never done - just the gingerbread men. I still have to make my guys with a hole in the top to hand on our daughter's tree.
      I use merengue powder for royal icing, but not from the Bulk Barn any more as I learned when taking baking and frosting classes. Wilton's is the best.
      I hope you get it to all stick together and show us everything when completed.

  7. Gingerbread and gingersnaps are my favourite cookies of all time! Thanks for the recipe! xox

  8. The cookies look delicious. I'm sorry about the other stuff, though. I've never tried to make my own gingerbread house. I always buy a kit. It's a little expensive but I really don't trust myself to do a scratch one correctly. Maybe someday. I am sure your house parts are delicious and everyone will love eating them. :)

  9. You had me chuckling with this one because I can sooooo relate to this as I try to squeeze everything in with the beans hanging on me!!! Your cookies look amazing and I will be filing this one for sure friend! We do cut out sugar cookies but I have yet to make gingerbread. And I just love your beautiful collection of cookie cutters!!! I have such a soft spot for them! A merry week to you friend!!! Nicole xoxo

  10. It looks very yummy! Hopefully it will set in the end :) I often have things like this happen to me when I bake...but that's how we learn I guess ;) xx

  11. Oh Wendy, what a problem indeed, but your cookies look fantastic, and what a collection of cutters. I've not tried gingerbread too afraid. LoL.

  12. Thank you, thank you, thank you lovely lady! Me and my daughter were looking for a recipe to make our first gingerbread house to make this weekend and there you are! Wish us luck! xx

  13. Hi Wendy, I am stopping by at your tea party late .... I love ginger cookies and these looks delicious. are there reindeers too? -Gaia

  14. Your cookies look terrific! It is good to stick with what you know but it's also good to get outside that box and try new things. Give the house another try. Bet it'll work better the next time! Thanks for stopping by my site!

  15. But you know what Wendy, they still look so good! I have yet to get cracking on ours with Dolly but the wreath is coming along nicely... need more acorns!! hahaha!

  16. This post sounded so familiar. Many is the occasion when I've changed or tweaked something with disasterous results! I've not made my gingerbread house yet.

  17. Do you think you will finish your gingerbread house? I'd love to see it! I always buy the kit at Costco ~ it gets the job done around here! I am hoping to bake some cookies next week. That I can do from scratch :)

  18. Wendy,

    No worries! Things happen, and your gingerbread cookies are perfectly sweet on their own! I love the styling you did for this post, makes me want to bake up a storm, just to be surrounded by all the cookie cutters and the floury 'snow'! Charming post!

    Merry Christmas!



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