Wednesday, December 17
In the midst of packing and preparing for the guests arriving tomorrow, Sarah whipped up a batch of gingerbread house dough for a simple nativity. The dough needed to chill, so we had pockets of kitchen activity alternating with pockets of packing and cleaning. Perfect!
Gingerbread House (Pepparkakstuga) from "The Great Scandinavian Baking Book"
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, well packed
2 Tbsp. cinnamon
4 tsp. ginger
3 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup boiling water
5 cups all-purpose flour
Frosting and Sugar Syrup:
1 egg white
3 cups powdered
1 tsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. almond extract
2 cups sugar
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until blended. Add the cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Mix the baking soda with the boiling water and add to the dough along with the flour. Mix to make a stiff dough. If necessary add more water, a tablespoon at a time. Chill 2 hours or overnight.
Cut patterns for the house (or in our case, the stable), making patterns for the roof, front walls, gabled walls, chimney, and door out of cardboard.
Roll the dough out on a large, ungreased baking sheet and place the patterns on the dough. Mark off the various pieces with a knife, but leave the pieces in place.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the cookie dough feels firm. After baking, again place the pattern on top of the gingerbread and trim the shapes, cutting the edges with a straight-edged knife. Leave to cool on the baking sheet.
Prepare the frosting by mixing the egg white with the powdered sugar, vinegar, and almond extract until smooth. Put mixture into a pastry bag and pipe through a fine tip onto the pieces of the house, making the decorations on the parts before assembling the house. Let the frosting harden.
To glue the house together, first place the 2 cups sugar in a wide, heavy skillet. Place over low heat and stir until the sugar melts but does not burn. Dip the edges of the house pieces into the syrup as you put the house together. The sugar hardens quickly, so you need to work rapidly.
Finally put the house on a try or board and surround it with cotton for snow, evergreen twigs, and figures.