Saturday, December 15, 2007

Vegan Gingerbread House

Many, many hours later the vegan gingerbread house is done! I learned a lot about gingerbread, house building, and icing. I am not sure I am cut out for gingerbread house making--I am an anal retentive perfectionist when it comes to food and gingerbread houses are messy and sticky with goopy icing and nary a straight line anywhere. But, the kids thought it was the best gingerbread house ever, and they had fun "helping," so that is all that matters.

The gingerbread recipe comes from the Vegan Lunchbox blog. It is awesome--durable, pliable, and reliable.
- 1/3 cup non-hydrogenated margarine, at room temperature
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 cup sweet unsulphured molasses
- ¾ cup water
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- ¾ tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- ½ tsp. cloves
- ½ tsp. allspice
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the margarine, brown sugar, molasses, and ½ cup of water.
2. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, adding just enough of the water to incorporate all the flour and form a dough that holds together well.
3. Turn the dough out of the bowl and form into four equal balls. Wrap each ball well with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 350ยบ. Line some baking sheets with parchment and spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
5. Working with one ball at a time, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Roll the dough about ¼-inch thick and cut into desired shapes.
6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the surface is firm. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Some sagely advice: make the supporting walls thickish, but make the roof pieces thinner. Any tricky pieces, like dormers, should be cracker thin.

The icing comes from
- 1 lb. confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 cup powdered soy milk
- 6 tbsp soy milk
- 6 tbsp light corn syrup

In a mixing bowl, mix the sugar and soy milk powder, then add most, but not all, of the soy milk. Add corn syrup just until combined. Add remaining soy milk if the icing consistency is not smooth enough, but be careful not to add so much that it will be too runny or fail to harden.

1. Go small. Don't try to be a hero and try to make a scale version of your own house.
2. Make sure the afternoon is free. This is going to take a while.
3. Make the icing is as thick as possible. You really can't replace egg whites in royal icing, as it turns out, and gravity is not your friend.
4. Thin is good for gingerbread. Things can get unruly if the pieces are too thick.
5. Be patient. Let base pieces set and dry before you start building up.