Here it is. The recipe for gingerbread that Evan's mom has been using to make her houses with since she started baking them when Evan was just a baby. It really is simple to make. And the thing to remember is that you don't have to build houses to make gingerbread. This dough could be used solely to make little gingerbread man cookies. It's totally up to you.
Here we go!
The ingredients for the dough:
5 C. all purpose flour; 1 tsp. baking soda; 1 tsp. salt; 2 tsp. ginger; 2 tsp. cinnamon; 1 tsp. nutmeg; 1 tsp. cloves; 1 C. solid white vegetable shortening; 1 C. sugar; 1 C. molasses; 1/4 C. white corn syrup; 2 eggs, beaten.
Start by measuring out your flour and putting it a mixing bowl.
Then start adding the rest of the dry ingredients:
Look how pretty all the spices are next to each other. It's my favorite.
Now, mix those all together and separate the flour mixture. Take 4 cups out and put them in one bowl and save the leftover mixture for later.
Now, take your shortening and put it in a pot to melt.
IMPORTANT: Once the shortening has melted, you're ready to add the other ingredients. But, for the love of all that's holy, TAKE THE POT OFF THE BURNER. I will tell you why later.
Okay, add your sugar...
and your corn syrup to the pot.
Now, if you'd read the ingredients carefully, unlike me, you would have remembered to beat the eggs before you added them. No biggie, just make sure you mix it extra well otherwise.
Stir. Now, the reason I may have freaked out earlier about taking the melted shortening off the burner is that you don't want to accidentally leave it on the burner and then add the eggs because then they will cook and become scrambled eggs and no one wants that in their gingerbread dough. Especially Evan, who was super grossed out when I did that with the first batch I made.
(He refused to eat the scrambled eggs even when I spooned them out of the mixture and offered them to him. Ungrateful.)
Okay, now take your molasses mixture and pour it into the 4 cups of the flour mixture you've got ready in your mixing bowl.
Keep going until you can't see any white.
Your dough should look like this. Very thick and brown and glorious.
Okay, now take this beautiful gingerbread dough and add it to the left over flour mixture.
You are going to hand knead the dough into the flour until it becomes one.
Keep kneading, it's not going to hurt you.
Done. You should have a giant, firm ball of gingerbread dough. Go ahead and pinch off a piece and eat it. That's my favorite thing to do when I'm done making the dough!
If you're ready to make cookies or house pieces, here' the rest of the cooking instructions:
Roll the dough onto a flat cookie sheet (or take your normal cookie sheets and flip them upside down and use the flat underside). If you are making house pieces, roll the dough until it's about 1/8" thick and bake for 12-14 minutes. For cookies or smaller house pieces, cook for 6-8 minutes. Check frequently to avoid the dough over-browning. Once they're done baking, remove the pieces to cooling racks and let the cookies cool for at least 30 minutes. For the house pieces, let them cool overnight. For any left over dough, just roll it into a giant ball, throw it into a ziploc baggie and make sure it's air tight, and it can keep in your refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Just bring the dough back to room temperature and knead it again when you want to reuse it.
I didn't take pictures of the icing preperation process (because I thought I'd have to make two batches of icing, but ended up not needing to), but here's the ingredients and directions.
3 Tbsp. meringue powder (or dry egg whites); 3 1/2 oz. warm water; 1 lb. powdered sugar, sifted; 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar (1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice)
Combine all the ingredients, mixing slowly until they are all combined. Then beat the mixture on high for 7-10 minutes. The icing will get fluffier after 7-10 minutes. Use as a glue for the house pieces or to decorate your gingerbread men. You can store leftover icing in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Just re-beat the icing before using it again. The icing should make about 3 1/2 cups.