DIY with Dariana: Build Your Own Gingerbread House

As Christmas rolls around, many UCR students feel the toll that the holidays take on their pockets. With Secret Santas and parties every weekend, who has enough money for anything? Well here is a foolproof way to “cheer” your mood in time for winter break, without having to break your piggy bank. I searched the web endlessly for gingerbread recipes that weren't too complicated and used ingredients I had easy access to. Here I have compiled what I found into one simple recipe that uses common household items so you don’t have to worry about being tackled by crazy holiday shoppers. I'm going to apologize in advance for the lack of step-by-step pictures like I usually have, I seem to have misplaced my memory card and the only pictures I have are of the finished product. Sorry, but enjoy!

 

The recipe for this dough calls for five ingredients:

  •   2 cups light or dark corn syrup
  •   1 1/2 cups firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
  •   1 1/4 cups margarine
  •   9 cups all-purpose flour
  •   1/2 teaspoon salt

If you feel fancy (and rich) enough, you can add:

  • ginger
  • molasses
  • allspice
  • cloves
  • nutmeg

Note: I decided not to add any of these to mine and it ended up looking a little pale, so if you want yours to be darker add as many spices as your little heart desires.

1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Heat the corn syrup, brown sugar, and margarine in the microwave until margarine has melted and sugar has dissolved completely. Stir the concoction until it becomes smooth.

2) In another bowl, mix the flour and the salt. Add the syrup solution and wait for it to cool down.

3) Start kneading the dough until it is soft and squishy. Wrap it and let it rest on the counter for at least one episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.”

4) Roll out your dough so that it is about ¼ inch thick and place it on a parchment paper-lined baking pan. Cut it out into the shapes you want for the walls and roof. Patterns are available on pastry websites such as simplyrecipes.com and recipetips.com.

5) Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until dough becomes firm.

 

While you are waiting for it to cool off, gather the ingredients for the icing needed to assemble the house:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 3 cups of confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

 

6) In a large bowl, mix the egg whites, vanilla extract and salt until it obtains a frothy consistency. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix slowly until it is fully incorporated into the solution. Place the finished icing into a pastry bag. Since most of you guys aren’t professional chefs and thus may not own or know what a pastry bag is, use a resealable plastic freezer bag instead. Cut off the tip of one of the corners and get ready to ice!

7) Use the icing to glue all of the walls of the house and the roof together. If the walls need more support, prop them up with some cans or anything you have handy.

8) Go wrap some presents and wait a few hours before coming back to decorate your masterpiece.

9) Gather all types of candy you wish (or have left over from Halloween). Go crazy with the decorating. Use the shredded wheat cereal (preferably frosted) you have lying around as roof tiles. Use gumdrops to make a Christmas tree. You can even make some gingerbread people to inhabit the beautiful home you created.

10) Have fun and enjoy the holidays... and the house.