Nothing is as much fun this time of year as building a gingerbread house – but once the flour settles and the sugar high wears off you can be left in a less-than-merry little mood. We’ve concocted a delicious and oh-so-chic recipe for an all-natural gingerbread house with help from food photographer Liz Clayman, who constructed this beauty right in her own home. With coconut sugar, whole grain flour, organic butter and eggs, you’ll be building a healthy little home perfect for all the little gingerbread men in your house. The herb and fruit decorations leave this little house looking almost too pretty to eat, but healthy enough so that once you do, you can still enjoy one very merry little afternoon!
A Healthy Holiday Gingerbread House
- To make the dough
- 6 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
- 3 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 1/2 cups organic butter
- 1 1/2 cups coconut sugar
- 3 large free-range eggs
- 3/4 cup robust, dark molasses
- Instructions: Sift all dry ingredients except for sugar in a medium sized bowl (flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, cardamom). Using electric mixer, beat shortening in large bowl until fluffy. Add sugar and beat into mix thoroughly, then add in eggs one at a time. Add molasses and continue to beat at high speed until well blended. Add dry ingredients in small amounts, turning mixer down to lower speed. Divide dough into six equal pieces, flatten each piece into a rectangle and wrap in parchment paper. Chill until firm enough to roll, a minimum four hours. Can be made a day in advance.
- Making the templates: Using a piece of cardboard and a ruler, cut out panels for your house. This dough can make enough for a house 9" tall at peak of the roof, 8" in length and 5" wide, but this part of the design is up to you. A little extra dough is a good thing and can be used for making other decorations, such as trees or roof tiles for your house. For a simple house, make sure that you have two matching panels for your roof, two matching panels for the side walls and two matching panels for the front and back, cutting optional doors and windows.
- Rolling out the dough: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with the rack in the center. Take your dough out of the refrigerator and place in between two fresh sheets of parchment paper, making sure the templates are smaller than the parchment. Roll out dough to about 1/4", making sure the parchment is not causing any wrinkles in the dough. Place your first template over the top sheet of parchment paper and, using a sharp knife, cut out. Peel off top layer of parchment and carefully slide dough onto flat cookie tray. Bake for about 12 minutes. Dough should just be browning on the edges and firm to touch in the center. Remove from oven and let cool on drying rack. Repeat process for all sides of the house, making sure not to place dough onto hot cookie sheets. Sheets can be cooled by running under cold water. Dough needs to be completely cool before constructing the house.
- To Make the sugar "glue"
2 C coconut sugar
1/2 C water
- Preparing the 'sugar glue' to construct the house: Combine 2 cups of sugar with 1/2 C water in a sauce pan. Heat and stir until sugar is dissolved - this will thicken as it cools. Use this to connect the walls of the house by either dipping the edges of the gingerbread pieces or using a brush. Be careful not to burn your fingers with this, as it can be very hot! When assembling the house, don't worry too much if the pieces don't fit together perfectly - the royal icing can be used to fill in gaps.
- To Make Royal Icing:
4 large free-range eggs
7 C coconut confectioners sugar
- Preparing the royal icing: Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in medium bowl until foamy, about one minute. Adding 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar during this period, then add remaining cups sugar in small increments, mixing until well blended. Beat icing at high speed until thick and stiff, about 5 minutes. Spoon into pastry bag or large Ziplock freezer bag.
- Tools needed:
Roll of parchment paper, for rolling out dough
Cardboard, for house templates
Pastry Bag or large freezer bag
Dried strawberry fruit strips
- Decorating: The royal icing can be used all over the house to both decorate and fill in gaps and cover up the seams that might be a little messy with the 'glue'. This house (aside from the sugar glue, royal icing and meringues) is all constructed with healthy foods. I chose lots of nuts and berries, but the options are limitless!