Gingerbread Salt Box Houses

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Gingerbread Houses

Last Christmas I challenged myself to make a gingerbread house from start to finish.

And I did it.

After I finished it, I decided to enter it in a gingerbread house competition. I was so excited when I won it!


(Last year’s Gingerbread house)

This year, I wanted to top last year’s design. It was a fun process, which I’m sharing here.

Now that it’s finished, I feel a little sad.

I would encourage anyone who loves to make a gingerbread house from a box to get crazy and make your own. It takes a lot of time and patience and baking supplies, but it is so satisfying.

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The Template

First, I made my own template.

I used some plain computer paper, ruler, pencil, scissors and tape. I based it on images of the rectangular “Salt Box Houses” in Newfoundland.

I drew out each front, back sides and roof, I cut them out and taped them together to make sure that they would fit together nicely. When I was happy with my design, I took them apart and made the windows and the door.

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Then it was time to make the gingerbread dough. Here’s my recipe:

½ cup of sugar
½ cup of margarine
½ cup of dark molasses
¼ cup of cold water 
2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
¾ tsp of salt
½ tsp of baking soda
2 tbsp powdered ginger
1 tsp of cloves 
1 tsp all spice

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To Make the Dough

In your mixing bowl, cream together the sugar and margarine well. Blend in the molasses. Then add the water. Once you add the water the mixture looks somewhat curdled but don’t worry it’s all good.

Sift together the remaining ingredients and blend until the dough forms.

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Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and on a lightly floured surface knead for a couple of minutes adding a little more flour if the dough is still sticky.

Form the dough into a disc and wrap with plastic wrap and chill for 2-3 hours.

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When you’re ready, heat your oven to 350 degrees. Remove the dough from the fridge, roll out on a lightly floured surface. I rolled mine between 1/4 to 1/8-inch-thick and use a sharp knife to cut out your pieces using your templates. I baked mine for 12-15 minutes and then I let them cool on a cooling rack completely.

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I didn’t plan on eating my house so I doubled the spices and added 2 tbsps of cinnamon to my mix to make my houses more aromatic. The spices also act as preservatives, so the finished houses will last longer.

Windows

There are 2 ways to make your windows.

You can make a sugar mixture to pour in the windows. Alternately, you can crush clear or yellow candies into small pieces, add them to the windows and bake once again until all the candy melts inside the windows.

Either way make sure that the candy is completely cooled and hardened before you move the cookie off the baking pan.

That’s it.

Once you get all the pieces baked, you’re ready for the fun part: Assembly!

Royal Icing

To make the royal icing you will need

3 tbsps of Meringue powder
4 cups of icing sugar
5-6 tbsps of warm water

I mixed mine all together on a low setting for 7-10 minutes.

If you want to paint your house now is the time to do it before you assemble it.

I added a few drops of water to my icing to make it a little thinner. I added food colouring to paint my house. I used a piping bag with a small hole in the bottom to pour my icing to paint my house.

I let the house dry for 24 hours before assembling it.

When I glued my house together I used just 5 tbsps of water in my icing. This made the icing thicker and stickier.

I used a piping bag fitted with a number 5 icing tip to line the edges of the walls to my house. I used cans to help me support my house while I was assembling it.

If you’re adding lights now is the time to add them. I used battery operated lights, with the batteries behind the house for easy replacement.

I waited another night before putting my roof on. I wanted to make sure that my structure was secure. Nobody wants a structural collapse when adding a roof.

Depending on the size and design of your house, you may need multiple batches of both recipes.

For this Tibb’s Eve scene, I used roughly 5 batches of gingerbread dough, 8 bags of icing sugar, and 4 containers of meringue powder.

The addition of fondant Mummers, snowmen, boats, crab pots, wreaths and signs made my scene complete. I made trees from a 3d cookie cutter, as well as ice cream cones. Round pieces of chocolate made rocks.

The possibilities are endless, it really is an excellent time to use your imagination.

Here are a bunch of photos, followed by a video (be sure to scroll down).

Here’s the video:

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#2

A photo we left off: