This is a guest post from Gina who blogs at Chronicles of a Canadian Twentysomething.
As a kid, I was never interested in learning to bake or cook, but 3 years ago I found out that I have to avoid gluten. At first, figuring out how to make things from scratch was purely a survival technique, but it quickly became a passion and sharing it with others is a huge part of the joy.
So this year while I’m home, I’m cooking dinner for my parents and doing the holiday baking. The first project to tackle: a gingerbread house. We’ve never made one as a family (since I was an infant) and never from scratch, so this is completely new to us. However…it worked! I’m very pleased and I hope you will be too! It takes a couple of days and at times it’s a 2-3 person job, but definitely worth the effort. I’ve never laughed so hard in my life.
Did you know Ziploc bags of icing can demonstrate some degree of flatulence? Ma n’ I had tears running down our faces. Sigh.
I used the techniques and base recipe of Hillbilly Housewife, with the purpose of seeing if it would convert to gluten-free, without crumbling.
Gina’s Gluten-Free Gingerbread House
To make the gingerbread dough:
1 cup butter (or 3/4 cup Shortening for dairy-free)
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
(use a mixer, unless you’ve got Hulk-like biceps).
2-3 Tbsp molasses
Mix on low speed until combined.
6-7 cups Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose flour
(You can use your own GF mix but for those who don’t have many different flours, this works too!)
2 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp guar gum
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground nutmeg
Mix until combined. The flour will be VERY sticky with 6 cups of flour, so add a little more. Sprinkle a LOT of flour on your counter/cutting board and make sure the dough is coated before kneading. Another person adding flour when needed is helpful. Knead until smooth and fingertips should leave indentations in the dough when pressed. Place in a bowl and cover overnight.
The next day, after cutting pieces of paper to your desired measurements for the house, roll out dough (again, you’ll need more flour), and use the paper to trace and cut pieces of dough (we used a pizza cutter, very easy). We cut out the square end-pieces and roof peaks separately. However, while “gluing” the pieces together, I thought it might be a lot easier to make the ends all one piece (wall + peak). If you try that method, I’d love to hear how it turned out!
Grease and flour (even non-stick) cookie sheets and carefully transfer cut-out pieces. Bake at 325F for 15-20 minutes.
*If you’re making ginger-snaps with leftover dough, turn heat up to 350F and reduce the time. Cool separately on wire racks (overnight or until firm…we couldn’t wait so we glued them after about 8 hrs).
We had to make 2 batches (1 for gluing house + licking, 1 for decorations + licking).
If you have kids…make extra. ; )
Scoop into a Ziploc bag with a hole snipped in one corner (make sure it’s sealed otherwise!) and pipe icing out onto gingerbread edges. This is another point where you’ll need extra hands. : )
Leave to dry and then decorate!
This recipe worked GREAT with gluten-free flour, and I will definitely feel comfortable using other combinations of flour now that I know how it should look. If you work with a kitchen scale (I hope to have one soon!), this mix is 136 g/cup. So as long as the mix you use works out to that weight per cup, you should be alright! : )
*If you want to use this dough JUST for gingersnaps, you may want to reduce the baking soda (they puffed up too much) and add another Tbsp of cinnamon (and take out the nutmeg if you wish). Roll the dough into 2” x 1.5” loaves and keep refrigerated until firm. Cut into slices with a sharp knife and bake!
Thanks Linda for letting me share my gingerbread adventure with your readers! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! : )
Gina is the author of Chronicles of a Canadian Twentysomething. Aside from singing in a choir and working in a plant science lab, she is currently studying to become a Registered Dietician in Montreal, Quebec. Her dream (aside from dietary counseling), is to someday own and operate a gluten-free/allergen-free bakery. Until then, she enjoys learning new techniques and coming up with recipes in her spare time.