19 December 2009

The Gingerbread Architect

I laughed recently when I saw a ginger ale commercial that pointed to the fact that "ginger ale" was made with "ginger." It seems rather obvious doesn't it? The commercial had all the marking of a ad derived from a "Focus Group." Speaking of "ginger"...

I love this book on gingerbread houses. I am going to offer up full disclosure here and tell you I wouldn't make a gingerbread house if you paid me. OK, if you paid me I might give it a try. Still, I love cooking AND architecture, so of course I love this book. IT was written by, yes, and architect, Susan Matheson and a pastry chef, Lauren Chattman.

Some people have criticised this book because the "house plans" were not elaborate enough. Seriously, folk, no one is actually moving in.

OK, as I said before, I am not going to build a gingerbread house, but I will eat the gingerbread, which in case you didn't know, is made with... ginger. So here is their gingerbread recipe. If you want plans and icing and other building supplies, do buy a copy of the book.

Gingerbread Dough

Makes 3 1/2 pounds

1 cup each: shortening, sugar

2 teaspoons each: baking powder, ground ginger

1 teaspoon each: baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup dark (not light or blackstrap) molasses

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons white vinegar

5 cups flour

Combine shortening and sugar in the bowl of electric mixer; beat on medium high speed until fluffy. Add baking powder, ginger, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves. Beat until incorporated.

Add molasses, eggs and vinegar; beat until smooth. Add flour, 1 cup at a time; mix on low until smooth. Scrape dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap; press into a rough square. Wrap tightly; refrigerate at least 3 hours and up to 3 days.

When you're ready to shape and bake the gingerbread, follow the directions given for the particular house you are making.

Note: This dough is perfect for gingerbread houses; it is too tough, though, for cookies. A large stand mixer will accommodate one batch of dough. If your mixer is smaller and less powerful, you may have to make two half recipes.

What? It is too tough to eat! Well fine. Here is my Great- Aunt Mamie's Gingerbread recipe so you can have something to snack on while you are building the Taj Mahal.


1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 egg
5 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup melted butter or shortening

Sift together the flour, salt, soda, and spices.

In a mixing bowl, combine egg, sugar, molasses, buttermilk, and melted butter and mix.

Gradually add sifted dry ingredients, mixing until blended.

Pour batter into a greased and floured 8-inch or 9-inch square pan and bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes.

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