German Gingerbread House (Lebkuchenhaus)
By: Karen for Globetrotter Diaries
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Take a tour around the world with this beautiful German Gingerbread House, or Lebkuchenhaus. This traditional gingerbread house template makes a picture-perfect holiday decoration and a sweet treat!
- Stable surface or tray for assembling gingerbread house
- Baking supplies (saucepan, mixing bowl, wooden spoon, spatula, etc.)
- Pastry bag or ziplock bag
- Printable Gingerbread House Template
- Lightweight cardboard or cardstock for tracing stencils
- Paring knife or pizza cutter
- Gingerbread dough ingredients:
1 1/4 cups packed dark-brown sugar
3/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 1/4 cups milk
1 tablespoon baking powder
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- Royal icing ingrdients:
2 cup of powdered sugar, sifted
1 large egg white
- Caramel "mortar" ingredients:
1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
a small squeeze of lemon juice
Baking and Shaping the Gingerbread:
- Combine brown sugar, molasses, butter, spices, and salt in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved, about 10 minutes. Stir in the milk and remove the mixture from the heat.
- Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl and add the baking powder and flour. With an electric mixer, and beginning on low speed and increasing to medium, beat until well combined. Divide dough in even fourths and shape into disks. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate overnight. Dough can be frozen up to 1 month and thaw in the refrigerator before using.
- When you are ready to bake the gingerbread, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and roll out each dough disk on a lightly floured surface. The dough will be somewhat tough so you will really have to work to make it thin. Keep rolling in a back and forth motion, turning the disk of dough and flouring the pin and surface in between. Roll until the dough is about 1/8 of an inch thick. If the dough becomes warm from handling place it back into the refrigerator before cutting the stencils to cool the dough.
- Using the template, which you can download here, trace the shapes and cut the stencils out of lightweight cardboard or cardstock. Lay the stencil on top of the rolled out dough and cut the dough with a paring knife or pizza cutter. Place the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until browned, rotating the sheet halfway. Let it cool completely.
Decorating Your Gingerbread House:
- Beat the egg whites in a bowl until foamy. Add in the sugar and continue to beat until white and glossy.
- To decorate your gingerbread, scoop the icing into a pastry bag with a small tip or a large ziplock bag. If using a ziplock bag, push all the icing to one corner and snip the corner at a diagonal creating a very small hole.
- Start decorating by creating fish-scale U’s on the two roofs. Trace the edges of the windows and doors with icing and add whatever additional details you’d like. We’ve added dots in addition to the lines, but this is the fun part of gingerbread houses, so use your imagination!
- The icing should dry very hard; wait until it has completely dried before assembling the house.
Assembling the House with Caramel "Mortar":
- The caramel acts as the glue that holds your house together. When you are ready to assemble the house, start making the caramel. Because this cools quickly and hardens you can’t make this ahead of time.
- Put the sugar in a saucepan and cook over high heat, stir the mixture until it starts caramelize and turn a deep amber about 10 minutes. Remove off the heat and begin to use immediately.
- Dip each adjoining side of the walls of the house in caramel and hold together for a few seconds. The caramel will harden, holding the pieces together. Once all 4 walls are held together. you can attach the roof by using a spoon or small brush to trace the V-shape and attach the roof pieces.
- Assemble the chimney together and brush the bottom with caramel and attach to one side of the roof.
Adding the Finishing Touches:
- Now that your house is assembled you can put on the finishing touches that truly transform this gingerbread house into a winter wonderland. On a nice serving tray that you will be using to display the house, sift a thin layer of powdered sugar to cover so it looks like a pristine layer of fresh snow. Place the house on top of this layer. Add a few pine cones for trees and a couple of cinnamon sticks for wood logs. Dust another fine layer of powdered sugar over everything.
- To make the icicles, carefully and lightly squeeze a small drip of icing holding the tip close to the roof. As you get it to your desired length, brush the tip onto the edge of the roof and the icing will stick to and hang from the roof.
- Use a q-tip or your pinky finger to make little footprints in the “snow.” Add whatever other touches you’d like and you have a beautiful and charming masterpiece!
Note: If desired, personalize your gingerbread house by creating your own stencils or adding candy decorations.
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