For the icing:
First of all prepare your templates.
For the dough, melt the butter in the microwave or stovetop until just barely melted.
You might also warm the molasses so it pours and mixes more easily .
You can heat it in the microwave (with the lid removed) for 45 seconds, or let it sit in a pot of very warm, almost hot, water for 30 minutes.
Pour the melted butter and molasses into your mixing bowl (a large one!)
Now add the eggs, and next the brown sugar.
In another large bowl mix the dry ingredients.
If you have a mixer with a dough hook, it is time to put that on. Otherwise, you'll need to (knead to) do this by hand! Done mixing.
Back into the bowl and knead it into a smooth ball.
The dough, that is. No time for you to relax, yet. Put the dough in a ziploc or other container and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
Most directions say that you can even leave it till the next day (we have left it overnight).
Now is a good time to prepare a base to build the house on.
A cardboard box to fit inside a baking pan or cookie sheet with a lip around it.
Then cover the cardboard in a sheet of heavy aluminum foil with the shiny side down, so it wouldn't be TOO reflective (for photos).
On a silicon baking mat, waxed paper or a floured surface, roll out a small amount of the dough (about the size of a tennis ball) until it is about 1/2 cm thick.
Try to match one one or more of the cut out patterns to the size of the rolled dough.
It doesn't need to be an exact fit, you will reuse the trimmings.
And don't worry about making the rolled out dough any precise shape rectangle, circle, just as long as it is bigger than one or more templates, that will do.
Just place one of the paper pattern pieces on the dough and using a dull knife (like a table knife) cut around the edges.
Cut out the windows and doors and just lift out the extra dough. Save the trimming to roll again for the next template.
Lift the the dough pieces and lay it on the cookie sheet.
Or lay the cookie sheet over it then turn it over - if you need to reuse the cookie sheet for the next batch.
Here's a tip on windows: you can fill the empty window holes with crushed life-savers to form stained glass windows! It will melt in the oven and fuse to make "glass" panes!
We used leaf gelatine attached with some icing
(faster and easier)
We used leaf gelatine attached with some icing (faster and easier)
The chimney pieces are no different from the others, just smaller! You don't need to make a chimney, but it adds a nice touch.
We used a basic, traditional template and it had this chimney (see picture), so this will depend entirely from your template.
Preheat the oven at 180°C
Now pop the tray into the oven and let it cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until it puffs up a little bit and just starts to become golden and slightly firm.
While one tray is baling, you can cut out the next patterns.
Then remove the cooked batch and let them cool.
Another tip about the cooked dough. It's easy to trim it when it is fresh from the oven, still warm and soft, so you can trim some defects then.
But even after it cools completely, it's still pretty easy to trim it with a sharp pair of kitchen shears or a firm, sharp knife that won't bend under pressure.
You use a pizza roller or sharp knife to mark lines on the sections just after they are baked, to make shingles and other designs.
You can do it before baking, but they won't be as well defined.
The icing is your mortar and glue, as well as decoration and trim. In a large bowl beat the egg whites until they begin to foam.
Add the cream of tartar and beat until the whites are stiff but not dry.
Gradually beat in the icing sugar, beating for about 5 minutes until it reaches spreading consistency. Keep it covered and refrigerated until needed.
If you have a pastry bag, use that, but it's easy to take a large ziploc bag (we used the back of a spoon).
Fill the bag, and pop it into the fridge. When you are ready to use it, just cut off 1/2 cm of a corner and you have an instant pastry bag.
Start by laying a bead of icing down along all the seams of the sides, walls and roof.
Just like with real glue, it will stick faster and hold better, if we coat the seams where they will connect and let them dry until they are tacky.
Start with a side wall and the end. Stick them together and while one person holds them in place, use your jars (filled with contents) to hold them in place.
Use whatever you have handy: spaghetti sauce jars, jam, soda cans, as long as it is heavy enough to hold the pieces in place.
Add the other end and side, and then the roof pieces.
There's really no trick to it other than:
Use lots of icing and add more as it dries if gaps appear.
Keep the whole thing steady and untouched while it hardens
If the jars and cans are exactly the correct size, use wads of paper towels to build them up.
You'll notice I did that to hold the roof pieces in place. The overhangs rest on the cans.
paper towels to build the cans up so the roof pieces are pushed tight together
(we used leftovers of cooked dough).
(we used leftovers of cooked dough).
The chimney will be a lot easier to attach to the roof if it is already assembled and hardened.
Let it harden along with the rest.
Now, in a warm, not too humid room, it should be hard enough to work on in about 4 to 6 hours. Overnight is really best.
BUT, if you ARE in a big hurry, here's a trick: aim a hair dryer set on cool and high right at it.
Hot won't work, because the icing will melt. But cool will cause it to dry more quickly.
Wait to do the chimney until the walls and roof have hardened in place, preferably overnight.
We used toothpicks, pushed gently into the roof, to hold the chimney in place while the icing hardens.
Otherwise, the chimney will slowly slide down the roof.
Here's the fun part to decorate, everyone can participate. Give each family member a wall or roof to do!
Go wild! Icing around the door and windows makes nice trim.
To apply candy decorations, dab a small amount of icing to the underside of the candy and hold in place until set.
You can use dough scraps to roll out added decorative cut-outs to be applied with icing glue. These cutouts can be impressed with designs before baking.
For example, you could make window shutters, doors, or figurines! They can be "painted" with colored icing.
We added some figures at the front door and a
small battery light inside but again this is just what jut like to do.
We added some figures at the front door and a small battery light inside but again this is just what jut like to do.