I should send a thank you to Alpha for introducing us to this tradition. The first years we made one house per family, all at his home. Each family brought candy to share. The big gingerbread men were decorated and eaten immediately, allowing the families to bring the houses home as decor for a few days before consumption.
Gingerbread through the years:
|The first gingerbread house, 2006|
|Gingerbread house, 2007|
|Our haunted gingerbread house, 2008|
|Santa in the chimney 2009|
|Haunted again in 2010|
|The ill-fated gingerbread house of 2011|
The recipe (in text) and traditional house patterns (pdf) are at www.merlab.com/gingerbread thanks to Alpha!
The dough is easy to make and it tastes great. I use store bought icing in a tube because it sets up so fast. The pick-a-mix candies vary, and the items made in the "yard" vary depending on what candies we have. (Tootsie rolls make good woodpiles.)
1/2t baking soda
Cream butter and sugar, add egg and molasses, mix in dry ingredients. I chill it overnight but I'm not convinced it is necessary. I roll it thin 1/8"? onto parchment paper, cut the shapes and remove the excess so I don't have to lift the house pieces. It makes one house plus 24 large gingerbread cookies. I lowered the oven temp to 300 this year and baked them about 10 minutes. Keep a close eye on them b/c you don't want them to get dark but if the pieces are still soft they'll be more fragile. We use two tubes of white frosting to assemble and decorate.