How to make a holiday gingerbread house

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Charmaine Ye

Bakers beware: these before and after images of a gourmet gingerbread house illustrate what happens when the walls are not properly “glued” together.

Charmaine Ye and Makenzie Drukker, Staff Writer

For the record, we did not think this would be that hard.  We were wrong.

Gingerbread houses are a holiday staple, so when given the task of writing an article about holiday foods, choosing to make a gingerbread house was a no-brainer.  We decided upon a simple, Level E (for “easy”) recipe from the Food Network.  Before you go off and make your own, we want to provide you with a few tips to make your life as a gingerbread baker a little bit easier.

First, we gathered the ingredients and quickly realized that there is, in fact, a difference between refrigerated and room-temperature butter.  Use room-temperature.  It is really important.  Refrigerated butter is very difficult to blend into the dough, so the butter needs to be soft.  If your fingers leave imprints easily in the stick of butter when you pick it up, you can know that it is ready to use.  Also, make sure to start the beater at a low setting, unless you want to create a white Christmas in your kitchen.

While the dough is “j-chillin’” in the fridge, trace the templates for the walls of the house with a ruler if you are as uncoordinated as we are and can’t draw a straight line.  This is not physics, so make sure you are using inches.  Watch out for sharp edges when cutting the templates out.

When rolling out the dough, make sure there is a lot of flour on hand.  Roll the dough using a wave motion, starting from the center, and working your way out.  Cut out the gingerbread shapes and place them on a baking sheet.  Make sure to reshape them on the baking sheet because they tend to look deformed after being transfered to the sheet.  If there is extra dough left, you can use it to make fun shapes.  We chose a Christmas tree, featured in the picture, but other fun options include snow angels or, for the Jewish gingerbread house lover, a menorah.

While your shapes are baking, proceed to make the icing.  Don’t eat all of it, because holding the walls of the gingerbread house together will require massive amounts of icing.  Keep a knife, fork, and spoon around; they all come in handy.

Now for the assembly.  Unless you are a teenage construction prodigy, this is the hard part.  Spread icing on your chosen surface, but don’t go overboard or your house will cave in.  Find a friend and have him or her help you place the four base pieces in a rectangle.  Spread icing on the seams, hold the pieces together and let it dry.  Fan with a newspaper or your math homework, if necessary.  You could also cheat by building around a plastic Tupperware container to hold the sides up.

Decorate the sides of the house and “lawn” with candy, and then decorate and frost the roof.  Very carefully, place the roof on the house.  Did we mention you should be very careful? Because you should.

Quickly snap a photo and upload it to Instagram, so people will think you are an extraordinary baker.  Then step back and admire your creation before your gingerbread house implodes, because you probably used too much icing.