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‘Make a gingerbread house. In February. Or at Easter. Whatever happens, before Christmas 2012!’

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One side of our house

Well, we didn’t make it before Christmas 2012, but we certainly did it before January the first, 2013.

I think it crowned the year for my entire family – as in husband, myself and the children as we built the gingerbread house from scratch.

First of all, I used up half my US luggage allowance to ferry back candy.

Then we made the dough, baked the house parts, cemented them with Royal Icing and got us a house. Or rather, a gingerbread home.

We broke it right after our New Year’s Day brunch.

According to this article, New Year’s Day is traditionally the day for breaking the house. With a hammer. Yes, you read correctly. Using a hammer on the house is the symbolic way of saying goodbye to the old year and breaking-in the new. The candy “landscaping” is meant for little hands during the holiday season, but teach them to preserve the house until January 1st. My friend went out and purchased two small hammers, one for each of her daughters, in order to observe this tradition. For this family, New Year’s Day is almost like Christmas Day. So don’t forget to pass along this delightful custom.

So….do you love our gingerbread house?

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The other side of our house

Because we totally loved it.

And because we made it, by God’s grace to see the end of 2012, I will be making sharing my progress on my 2012 resolutions and sharing the ones I have resolved for 2013 later.

After numerous recipe searches, we – the children and I chose the ‘Butter hearts Sugars’ recipe for three reasons

  1. It used eggs. Silly reason right? But all the gingerbread recipes I’ve ever made had eggs and golden syrup so we avoided all the others and settled on this.
  2. She decorated all the parts of the house prior to assembling which seems a very sensible idea when decorating with 3 children. It means each child takes responsibility for a section, and can do it without bumping into someone and becoming frustrated. And it means, there is less time to the finished product.
  3. She piped on the royal icing decorations with a squeezy bottle, perfect for young hands.

A truly wonderful recipe that left us with no regrets.

First of all, the gingerbread dough was delicious – sweet, spicy and easy to make (and eat). I’m not a huge cloves fan, but in this recipe, it adds just the right touch of spiciness which complements the other spices so be sure to use them. I essentially ground up whole cloves in my spice grinder, passed the result through a sieve  saving the harder bits for mint tea and using the fine powder in this recipe.

Note, the gingerbread house took 2 days to complete.

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At work: rolling, cutting and preparing to bake the dough

We all had a responsibility for one section of the house.

One daughter worked on the front door;

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Assembled Front Door

…and another on the back door.

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Assembled back door

And I took charge of one side of the roof – and our friend’s daughter who stayed over a few days took care of the other side.

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Scalloped roof design

My 5-year old son covered his entire wall with royal icing…..,

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…which had to be wiped off and then ‘covered’ up with sprinkles. It ended up looking nice, considering how it began. The ‘hard candy’ windows ended up looking like they were covered in snow.

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I was so impressed with my non-artistic husband, who went with a simple design and did a great job incorporating colour into it all. He held it up with pride, while I took a photo.

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Finally, we made a border of green, red and white Hershey kisses on our snow-covered background.

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On New Year’s Day, with our guests, we took a hammer to the house.

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Dishcloth-wrapped hammer, protecting eyes and other body parts from accidental hits

It wasn’t that easy to knock down. 8 children attempted it before it came down…

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Once it lay broken, the feast began! The gingerbread cookie was soft and chewy – I preferred it before we made it into a house. Is this what happens to gingerbread houses – they lose their deliciousness? Or is it the high humidity in Nigeria that resulted in it? I don’t know. Do you? The children ate it all up regardless, and continue to.

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It was a wonderful experience though – one I wouldn’t trade for anything.

And though the amount of sugar involved in the construction was frightening, I would do it again. Perhaps with chocolate and pretzel sticks and other less-sugary delights.

The children LOVED it. They ate the cookies, the icing, the candy and kept coming back for more.

Luckily, it was hours away from bed-time so the sugar-highs had time to fade.

Thank you Butter hearts Sugars  for your extremely useful two-post recipe

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And a very happy new year to you all.

What are your gingerbread-making experiences? Share them please!

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