Epic Feats of Civil Engineering

What else are two civil engineering degrees good for?

Gingerbread House Recipe

From my mother.

  • 2 ½ C packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 ½ C heavy or whipping cream
  • 1 ¼ C molasses
  • 9 ½ C flour
  • 2 T baking soda
  • 1 T ground ginger

1. In a very large bowl, with wire whisk beat brown sugar, cream and molasses until sugar lumps dissolve and mixture is smooth. In medium bowl, combined flour, soda and ginger. With spoon, stir flour mixture into cream mixture in 3 additions until dough is smooth.
2. Divide dough into 4 equal portions; flatten each into a rectangle to speed chilling.  Wrap each piece well with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until dough is firm enough to roll.

Roll dough
1. Grease and flour large cookie sheets. Roll out dough, 1 rectangle at a time, on each cookie sheet to about 1/8 inch thickness (put damp paper towels under cookie sheets to keep them from shifting while you roll).  If dough is too crumbly, add water a tablespoon at a time until it is elastic.
2. Trim excess dough from sheet; wrap and reserve in refrigerator. Chill rolled dough on cookie sheet for 10 minutes.
3. Place floured cardboard patterns on dough and cut pieces making sure to leave 1 ¼ inches between pieces for expansion. Combine and reroll as necessary.

Bake dough
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Brush pieces lightly with water before baking. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until pieces are firm to the touch – don’t overbake.
3. While gingerbread is warm, place pattern pieces on top and re-trim if necessary.

Momma’s note: I basically ignore the “Roll dough” section and just roll it out on a counter (cold soapstone helps here), cut the pieces, transfer and reshape on the sheet and bake. I think the key is to let them harden for a day before constructing.

 

Royal Icing

  • 1 leeb confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ tsp. cream of tartar
  • 3 egg whites

In bowl of electric mixer mix all ingredients until combined. Set speed on high and beat at least 7 minutes. Store in airtight container.

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