Gingerbread House

Remember winter week on SYTYC?? I made the snowman glove dryer.  Well, it was actually the backup plan – I originally was going to go with a “Anyone Can Make a Real Gingerbread House” type of entry.  But in the process I failed and thought, ugh, on to plan B.  But since I did it, and it’s a craft, I’ll share with you guys (plus, I can’t get voted off my own blog for a lame craft!)

Growing up we always made Gingerbread houses.  They looked great.  My mom made the church and my brother and I each got a house that we decorated, under her supervision.  I’ve made them as an adult and they’ve looked great and were fairly easy.  I don’t know what happened this time (the pressure of the competition?!?)  First, mix up some dough – I love how my recipe is hand-written from my mom – before the computer was an everyday part of life.  I forgot molasses and then tried to knead it in by hand at the end – that’s where it all started to go wrong.  But I pressed on.

With the mix-up in ingredients, the dough was REALLY thick and hard to roll out.  I just went with it – mistake two – I should have just started over.  I pressed on.  Use pattern pieces and cut out shapes.

The gingerbread cooked up weird because it was so thick – I started to have my doubts about the project.  I made sucker stuff to fill the windows.  I don’t have a candy thermometer and so the goo wasn’t hot enough and never set up. Ugh.  I scraped all the goo and tried again – about this time my husband suggested moving on to the backup plan (snowman dryer here we came!).

I told my mom I didn’t know how hot my candy was and she told me a great tip – you take some of it and drip it into a cup of water – if it immediately makes a “hard ball” (hence this is called “hard ball” stage) then it’s ready.  Why didn’t I know this earlier??  After pouring it into the windows, using yellow to simulate light, add a drop of food coloring and swirl it around in the church windows to simulate stained glass.  I dropped in way too much and the church windows are blackish – another fail.

I have a board with a hole in it I use each year.  You build the house around the hole and then you can put a night light up in it the house, through the hole, and with the light on the inside the windows will glow – very cool.

When putting pieces together with the rock-hard icing (cement icing – it doesn’t taste good, but holds great) use cans for a few minutes to stabilize the houses.  Mine didn’t fit well because of the thick gingerbread and the way they grew weird when they baked.

And so, with slanty houses, I thought, time to give up!  I turned it over completely to the kids.  They had a blast.

And so now we have this kind of gingerbread village instead of a fabulous, intricated, well-designed one.  I’m okay with it.

Although I do have to share some pics of my aunts AMAZING gingerbread house – she does one every year and they are fabulous!!!  Obviously, kids don’t help with hers….

 Look, there’s even an inside – do you see those donuts?!?

Now, waiting for the fun part that comes after Christmas – demolition!  Here’s my oldest (now 8) when he was 3:

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