Ginger Lane Kitchens
6 cups all purpose flour
To prepare dough: Into large bowl, ,measure 3 1/2 cups flour and remaining ingredients. With mixer at low speed, beat until well mixed, constantly scraping bowl with rubber spatula. With hand, knead in remaining 2 1/2 cups flour to make a soft dough. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours or until dough is not sticky and is of easy kneading consistency.
To roll dough: Keep refrigerated until ready to use. Working with half of a batch at a time on a lightly floured work surface with lightly floured hands, knead dough until smooth. Then on a greased and floured 17" x 14" cookie sheet, with lightly floured rolling pin roll dough to 3/16" or 1/8" thickness. You can use dowels ofthe same size at either side of the dough on the cookie sheet to help create a uniform thickness. (For easy rolling, place cookie sheet on a damp cloth to prevent it from slipping.)
To cut and bake dough: Make your pattern pieces of heavy cardboard. Lay them on the dough and using a sharp knife use as many pieces as you can from the rolled dough on your cookie sheet, leaving at least 1/2" inch between the pieces. Remove scraps and reserve for re rolling. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (Place cookie sheet in the refrigerator if there is room while the oven preheats. Bake until golden brown and very firm when lightly touched with your finger. Remove cookie sheet from oven and cool on wire rack 5 minutes. Carefully remove the baked pieces from cookie sheet and place on wire rack to cool completely.
Note: If you need to do some trimming do it while the cookie dough is warm out of the oven.
You may need to make several batches of dough to complete your project, but don't multiply and try to do it all at once...the process just doesn't work that way.
I've used this recipe a few times and find it works well, particularly because you DO NOT chill it. In fact if it gets cold you must get it warm again to use it.
1 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark molasses or corn syrup (dark gives dark, chocolate colored dough; corn syrup gives light dough...or use half molasses and half corn syrup for a medium colored dough)
Melt these three items in a pot over low heat.
Remove from heat and stir in
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Then stir in 4-4 1/2 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. (You may have to enlist the help of an electric mixer on the last cup as the dough gets quite thick and hard to stir. Split the dough into manageable balls, wrapping excess in plastic wrap. Roll out, cut pieces, bake at 375 for 6-12 minutes.
Note: If you feel like the dough isn't working well, heat it in the microwave about 10 seconds to warm it, knead again and then roll it.
To assure proper fit, check gingerbread pieces before assembling; if necessary shave edges with a rasp (sold in hardware stores) or a sharp knife. When assembling gingerbread pieces with icing, work with pastry bag with medium tip. Check vertical angles of major pieces with a right triangle or carpenter's square.
To attach right angle pieces: Pipe a line along the edge of one piece; press it against the adjoining piece and hold it in place for several minutes until the icing sets. Let dry thoroughly propping attached pieces with a sturdy small object. When dry, smooth seams with a damp cloth; fill in any spaces with more icing.
For extra stability, pipe icing along the inside seams as well. Allow to stand for an hour until the icing has completely dried before decorating.
(makes 2 cups, you'll probably have to make several batches)
Egg White Icing
3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 (16 oz box) confectioners powdered sugar
In a large bowl combine all ingredients. Beat 7 minutes with an electric mixer until smooth and thick.. A good test is when a knife blade drawn through the icing leave a clean cut. Store in a tightly sealed container if you are not using it right away.
MERINGUE POWDER ROYAL ICING
3 Tablespoons Meringue Powder (available where cake decorating supplies are sold)
1 1 LB box (3 3/4 cups) confectioners sugar
4-6 Tablespoons cold water
Put dry ingredients together, add half the water, then add more water as needed. The consistency of the icing should be thick, where a knife can be drawn through it leaving a clean path...but not so thick it wont go through an icing tip. Takes about 2-3 minutes with this method.
You will need a basic knowledge of decorating with icing tips and
bags to make gingerbread structures.
You will also need what are called couplers . Buy several,
you will want to have one for each color of icing you plan to use...buy
at least 5.
Mixing icing is a double edged sword. Its much easier to mix it all ahead, but you need to use it in a timely fashion or it hardens. I usually mix it up, and try to fold the pastry bags over to keep the top from drying out. If I need to keep icing overnight I put it in a Tupperware container right in the bags. They sell covers for the tips to be used for storage, but in my opinion they dont make that much difference. You are going to have to unclog the tips anyway if you leave them sit for any period of time.
Keep toothpicks handy for cleaning out tips, and a paint brush works well too for getting into the points of the tips.
Toothpicks work well for helping correct errors, keep some handy.
Coloring icing :
Color small batches of this icing as needed with Wilton
decorating pastes, which are much more intense and not watery like liquid
Another technique I use a lot is painting. I put a little icing into a small container or bowl and then add just the smallest amount of water. In fact sometimes I just wet the paintbrush and then stir the paint with it and that is enough water. You then paint the gingerbread pieces. The result when the icing dries is a smooth coating with no visible brush lines.
Sometimes it is better to decorate elaborate pieces flat, then assemble the pieces.
Email Ginger at email@example.com