The gingerbread recipe:
Mix together the following. It will look funny, but not to worry.
- 1 c. vegetable shortening
- 1 c. granulated sugar
- 1 c. dark molasses
- 1 t. baking soda
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1 T. ground cinnamon (hint: For a more fragrant mix, use a mix of nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and ginger. It doesn't really matter if it's more than a tablespoon. Actually, the more the better. But don't go overboard, of course.)
- 2 T. cornstarch (hint: This helps the gingerbread stay nice and firm, which is important since you are using it to build walls and such.)
- 4 1/2 to 5 c. all purpose flour
Other (necessary) tips from the Gingerbread Queen (me, if you please):
- Roll it out on a flipped over cookie sheet.
- You can use lots of flour when you're rolling because after it's baked you can just dust it off. Also, you'll probably cover most of the house with frosting and candy, so it doesn't matter if its flour-y.
- After rolling, place your templates over the uncooked gingerbread and cut them out. Remove the excess dough before baking.
- When you take it out of the oven, carefully place your templates over the pieces again and use a bread knife (serrated, you know) to trim the pieces to their exact dimensions. They probably grew a little in the oven so to get the best house construction, you'll want to trim away the excess.
- Take the pieces off the cookie sheet and move them to cooling racks soon after taking them out of the oven. They're still a little pliable when they're very hot, and will be prone to breaking if you let them cool too much on the pan.
- Let them cool in a dry space. Moisture is to a gingerbread house as termites are to a real house. Let them sit and dry out for as long as possible. Like, days. The longer the better. This will lessen the chance of catastrophic collapse.