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Also known as oven-plywood - The recipe that follows makes excellent, stiff gingerbread dough. It is NOT your basic gingerbread dough. Please read the instructions thoroughly BEFORE starting - make you sure you really want to go to all this work! (It takes a bit more time and energy, however, I prefer to use this for my large houses, and I love it - Loreta)
NOTE: An electric mixer is NOT recommended. This dough is VERY stiff and could easily burn-up a mixer motor.
Equipment needed: 13 Qt. stainless steel mixing bowl (must be stainless steel - it will need to be placed on direct heat), 9 qt mixing bowl, smaller bowl, measuring cups and spoons, whip, large spatula.
6 cups All Purpose Flour
6 cups Rye Flour
Measure All Purpose Flour and Rye Flour into the 9 qt. bowl. Sift flours together to blend, set aside.
2 tsp. ground Ginger
2 tsp. ground Cinnamon
2 tsp. ground Cloves
1/2 tsp. ground Nutmeg
1 tsp. Salt
Remove about 1 cup of the blended flours and place in small bowl. Measure Ginger, Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg and Salt into the small bowl. Blend this small amount of flour and spices together, then add to large bowl of flour. Sift (or stir well) to blend.
Combine Margarine, Honey and Sugar (in that order) in the 13 Qt. mixing bowl. Place over medium heat - do not leave unattended. Stir with large spoon while heating until Margarine and honey are melted and sugar can easily be stirred into them. (Sugar does not need to dissolve, just blend). Remove from heat.
While Margarine/Honey/Sugar mixture is sill warm, add Lemon Juice/Egg mixture. Stir with a wire whip until well blended.
Begin adding Flour/Spices mixture to the Honey Mixture, stirring with the wire whip at first. As the dough gets stiffer, change to a large sturdy spoon. Stir in as much of the flour as you can, then begin kneading the remaining flour. Dough will be sticky at first, then becomes very stiff as you continue adding the flours.
Very useful: I put the 13 qt. bowl on the kitchen floor, get on my hands and knees and knead the dough directly in the bowl. It is much easier on the arms and a lot less mess.
Knead the dough until it makes a smooth ball. Keep it covered with plastic wrap.
Prepare another bowl of the flour mixture (variable amount) to be used to "dust" your rolling pin and surface.
Break off amount of dough to be used for house piece to be cut. Knead again to make smooth. The dough is very difficult to roll if it becomes cool/cold. You can keep the covered dough in the stainless steel bowl on top of stove while oven is on OR if the dough cools down, pull off a piece you intend to roll, wrap it in plastic wrap and microwave 15 - 30 seconds at a time. This re-heats the honey slightly and makes it easy to handle. (I use the microwave method - works great). Dust surface and rolling pin, roll to desired thickness.
Cut pieces and bake at 350 degrees for 15 min for 1/4" thick, 20 - 25 min for 3/8" thick. Check pieces - different sizes may need different settings.
Tips for Rolling, Cutting and Baking
Use a gauged rolling pin, that is, one that has interchangeable rings so your dough is the proper thickness (I don't use one, I like to just touch the dough to know it is the correct size....but it could be useful).
By the time you get the dough rolled the size you need, it is cool enough to actually pick the whole sheet up and drape and shape over a mold if desired.
Lightly wipe the counter with water then spread a sheet of aluminum foil down (the water keeps the foil from moving). Roll dough directly on foil. You can either cut pieces now or lift foil and place on baking sheet, then cut your pieces (prevents misshapen pieces).
For the straightest and cleanest edges, especially windows and doors, leave your scrap dough in place after cutting. Trim it, but leave 1/2" or so strip all the way around the piece. This prevents the edges from baking darker or spreading. (I tried this and it works great, but you really have to be quick when pieces come out of the oven and run a knife or pizza cutter across cuts again to make sure they separate well).
For the windows and doors, make your cuts but leave the piece in place. Don't bake it without those in place (I tried this, but I had a tough time removing baked pieces. I found it easier to remove extra dough before baking).
When the piece is baked and is still hot to very warm, you can pull those pieces away from the edges and out of the windows and doors. You can also press crumbs into place.
To make melted candy windows, allow the piece to cool completely. Brush crumbs from all cut edges, square the corners. Lay on sheet pan on top of a piece of foil. Spread cracked/crushed candies in window hole, brush any candy flakes off surface around window. Place back in the oven and heat only until candies melt and fill corners (Push it into the corners with a toothpick if necessary). If bubbles occur, use a straight pinto pop while the candies are still liquid. These windows won't fall out. If you use different colors in a window, you can swirl them while it's hot.
Larger structure/support pieces should be rolled 3/8". Pieces that are not support can be rolled 1/4" or thinner.
All pieces may be returned to the oven to bake more if necessary (if they didn't get brown or hard enough).
Dough rolled paper-thin must be watched closely while in the oven - maybe 5 min. Thin dough can be used for shingles. Use a small cutter. Then use a knife to score each in half (not all the way through). This allows you to snap them apart when cool.
Anytime BEFORE you apply any royal icing, if you feel a piece is not completely dry or you see that it is slowly bending out of shape at room temperature, PUT IT BACK IN THE OVEN at 250 - 300 degrees. Pieces that are draped over a mold may need to be set at 200 for about 45 min - 1 hr. They MUST be completely baked or they will cave-in. The low temp will dry, but not brown the surface further.
This gingerbread is NOT conventional. Most recipes instruct you to refrigerate the dough. DO NOT REFRIGERATE THIS DOUGH. It is tough and dense so must be warm to knead and roll. Your hands and arms will be better off. It will cool quickly enough to make clean cuts and be able to manipulate. This is the result of using Honey instead of Molasses, and the additional 50% Rye Flour.
The development and procedure of this recipe was created over several years exclusively with gingerbread house structural integrity in mind. Ingredient properties, and how each is affected by heat and moisture were considered.
These factors include:
Rye Flour: has a low gluten (protein) content which makes the dough denser. Kneading develops the gluten in the All Purpose and Rye flours. It's rough texture provides eye appeal.
Honey: does not soften after baking like molasses does, if baked completely. In fact, it hardens. It is a primary binding agent.
Rye Flour/Spices: create the darker gingerbread color in place of the molasses.
Egg Whites: by reducing the amount of egg white, the yolks and small amount of whites are binding agents and moisture.
Leavening Agents: All leavening agents (baking powder, baking soda, excessive egg whites) have been eliminated. This greatly reduces the amount of spreading or rising as the dough bakes.
Margarine (fat): is minimal to prevent to much spreading, but provides moisture.
Lemon Juice: is additional moisture. It also adds flavor, as does the salt.
This message has been edited by Gingerbread on Nov 20, 2008 8:26 AM