Baking gingerbread during holidays never fails to fill the home with its wonderful, spicy fragrance. Gingerbread has a dark, dense consistency. It's made from flour, molasses, baking powder and baking soda, eggs, sugar, salt, shortening and spices like ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom. Some recipes call for orange or lemon rind. Prepare in a large mixing bowl. Gingerbread dough expands when unbaked. During baking, however, gingerbread shrinks as a result of the action of combining baking soda and baking powder in a hot oven. Keep this in mind when baking a gingerbread schoolhouse. You'll need royal icing to "glue" walls and roof. A handy hint for handling gingerbread dough is to "flour" the surface where dough is rolled with confectioner's sugar to prevents sticking.
How To Make A Gingerbread Schoolhouse
There are several steps to make a gingerbread schoolhouse:
- Bake large sheets of gingerbread in a jelly roll baking pan or long cookie sheet.
- Create a template of the roof and walls of the schoolhouse with sturdy cardboard. Cut out windows and a door on facing exterior wall.
- Purchase silver shot, licorice, gum drops, non-pareils, candy wafers and other candies for exterior decoration. Cut chocolate squares for a chimney.
- Prepare royal icing with confectioner's sugar, cream of tartar and egg whites.
Fit the roof and walls of the templates onto rolled gingerbread dough. Cut to a size at least 1/8 inch larger to allow for shrinkage. Use a sharp knife to cut gingerbread to fit templates. Place on baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees, about 10 minutes, depending on the oven.
The Fun Of Making A Gingerbread Schoolhouse
Once the dough is fully baked, use a knife and ruler to insure angles of the roof and walls are accurate. Prop unopened grocery cans against walls. Next, pipe icing on the edges of the walls. Then, attach walls until all four are secured in place. Allow the icing to dry sufficiently to become sticky before attaching the roof.
You may need a taller can to prop the first roof side. Place a tall can in the center of the schoolhouse walls. Pipe icing on top edge of walls and around the edges of each side of the roof. Set one side of roof in place and prop against the can. Allow to dry slightly. Pipe icing around the second side of the roof as with the first. Remove can from center and carefully fit the second side of the roof against the first. Use a small and clean paintbrush to brush icing around windows, the door and to attach candy decorations to create a schoolhouse look. Use licorice whips to outline roof and windows and remaining icing to create a "snow effect". Bake gingerbread children for added effect.