While the darling gingerbread man has amassed centuries of history, starting with kitchens in England over 500 years ago, my kitchen has no history of this cute little guy (or gal).
But, I got a crazy idea to make a gingerbread house with one of those kits and even though my gingerbread house would be the first to be blown down by the big bad wolf, it created a gingerbread craving. I wanted nothing more than for my house to have that gingerbread smell which, of course, is so very Christmas.
The original gingerbread man was probably not a man at all, but shaped in the likeness of the men (or women) in Queen Elizabeth’s visitors, decorated a bit more high and mighty and probably darker and less sweet, even savory. There is a rich history of the gingerbread man, something I have totally taken for granted.
I realize how much we take for granted in the baking department because we can go to the store, purchase a box of this or that, either partially made or pre-made and we don’t think about what’s gone before us. We might even be the type to complain about the Christmas rush, not realizing what it was like for folks a hundred or 400 years ago to bring baked goods to the table and put a present under a tree.
I shudder to think that when I get to heaven, I will meet up with a few fabulous bakers that worked hard over wood burning (or coal) stoves to bring festive treats during a darkened December, with no internet, or print. May they never remind me of my store bought kit of a ginger bread house.
If they do, I will tell them, “I made my own little gingerbread men.” Okay, so I didn’t embellish them with gold, or liken them to my Christmas company, but I did roll them out from my own ingredients and I took a moment to remember them for such a wonderful Christmas tradition.” And, maybe they’ll forgive me for that box I’m hiding under the table because I still refer to December 25th as “Christmas.”
Now getting back to making a gingerbread house, no matter if you bake your own walls or purchase a kit, I suggest you decorate the roof and each wall before you erect them. You will save yourself a lot of time.
If you are short on time and want that gingerbread smell (and taste) make these little ginger boys. Garnish with melted chocolate and enjoy. If you can get your hands on some ginger salt, by all means sprinkle onto the chocolate. It’s delicious.
- 1 cup butter
- 1½ cups brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6¼ cups cake flour
- 4 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 ounces melting chocolate
- ginger salt (optional)
- Cream together butter and sugar. I used the paddle attachment of a kitchen aid on medium speed. Add in eggs one at a time. Add molasses until incorporated. Add vanilla.Sift together cake flour and remaining dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients a cup at a time to the creamed sugar/butter mixture until fully incorporated.Wrap into three discs in plastic.
- Chill for at least one hour.
- Take each disc out one at a time. Roll to ¼” and cut with gingerbread cookie cutter.
- Bake at 350 for 11 minutes. Allow to cool.
- To add chocolate drizzle, melt chocolate in microwave at power 5 and check every 60 seconds, stirring to just melted enough to be able to drizzle, using a fork.