While edible, this gingerbread house dough recipe is "structural." It has no leaveners that would make it puff up and distort the shapes, and it's firm so it can support lots of decorations. This recipe uses no expensive spices and has only five ingredients. I found this recipe online and am posting it here for safekeeping.
- In a medium microwave-safe bowl, heat corn syrup, brown sugar and margarine until margarine has melted and sugar has dissolved completely. Stir until smooth.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Add syrup-sugar-margarine mixture. Mix well.
- Wrap the dough in plastic and let it rest at least 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough 1/4-inch thick onto a sheet of parchment cut to fit your baking pan.
- Lightly flour the cardboard patterns and place them on the rolled-out dough, leaving a 1-inch space between pieces. Try to fit as many as you can without crowding. For clean edges, cut with a pizza wheel. Remove and reserve excess dough. Reroll dough scraps for the remainder of the pieces.
- Grab the opposite edges of the parchment paper and transfer to the baking sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until pieces are firm and lightly browned around the edges. Cool completely before removing from pans.
- This recipe can easily be increased, if you want to make it a project for several kids by doubling or even tripling the ingredients. Instead of measuring out the flour, for a double recipe, use 1 (5-pound) bag plus 1 cup flour. For a triple recipe, use two (5-pound) bags plus 2 cups flour.
My huge regret... that I didn't find this recipe years ago!!! Every Christmas I get the grandkids together and they each decorate a gingerbread house that we then put into a family "Christmas Village" and use as a centerpiece for our holiday get-together. This has gotten to be more work and more expensive as the number of kids increases, up to 7 this year. So I decided to look for a more affordable gingerbread.
Not only is this recipe very inexpensive, with Karo instead of molasses and margarine instead of shortening, but it is wonderful to work with. It is like using modeling clay!! I did not rest or chill the dough at all. I kept throwing the scraps back into the bowl, and as I got to the end of the huge batch of dough, it began to get a little dry, although brief kneading made it fine to use. (Next time I will wrap half the dough to keep it from drying out as fast.) I rolled the dough out on a piece of parchment paper but it probably would have been fine right on the counter. (I tend to make marks for where to cut the more complicated arches and peaks on the paper.) The dough transfers easily to the parchment lined baking sheets, using the same parchment over and over with no sticking.
Because there are no eggs or leavening agents, the dough does not expand at all as it bakes so what you cut is what you get. I rolled the first house 1/4 inch thick, but changed to 1/8 inch thick for all the rest with no problem. The thick dough took 15 minutes and the thinner 12 minutes; you do not have to let it brown on the edges, just be sure it is firm in the middle. Toward the end with the drier dough, I got some bubbles but I just stuck a knife tip in them while baking then smooshed them down when I took them out of the oven. I cooled the house parts briefly on the pan then transferred the pieces by hand to a cooling rack until completely cool.
I put the dry ingredients in my 6 quart Kitchenaid bowl, melted the other ingredients in a 4 cup measuring cup, then mixed all together. While the recipe says you can double or triple this, I can't see how... this was about as much dough as my mixer could handle, and it would not have fit in my 5 quart. I got 7 small houses plus a sheet of mini stars, boys, and girls out of one batch.
Reviews elsewhere warned that the dough was very pale. I used dark brown sugar and added 1 Tbs of cinnamon and 1 1/2 tsp ginger, and the dough was light brown... not as dark as "eating" gingerbread but just fine for houses. (I think you could get it even darker by using dark Karo... I didn't have any.) We don't eat the gingerbread houses, but the house smells great, and the bit of dough I tasted was not awful.
One hint for others: instead of using Royal icing as structural "glue", we use melted sugar. Put plain granulated sugar in a heavy pan (I use a small cast iron skillet) and heat it, stirring regularly with a wooden spoon, until it melts. Let it cool a little bit and then dip house pieces into the sugar or spoon the sugar over the house edges and press together. It hardens VERY quickly and the houses will absolutely never fall apart!!! Be careful though... the sugar syrup is hot enough to burn you very badly. Reheat the skillet as needed. When you are done, put some water in the skillet and let it sit; the residual syrup will soften.
I used this to make some houses for the nursing home my wife is in. To be used for their bazaar. It replaced a previous one I used. I found it worked very well, and results were rewarding. What I did not use I kept in the fridge and just zapped it about 15 seconds in our micro wave , rolled the dough on parchment and when my template was cut trimmed the parchment and placed on a cookie sheet. My oven took about 12 minutes, and held its shape nicely. Glad I discovered this recipe. Don As an added note I did watch the amount of flour called for and cut back a bit adding the last cup as I mixed to make sure it was at the right consistency to my liking, this after reading one review re dry.
Awful! Absolutely dry and unusable. Sorry. I followed recipe exactly.