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Video:Tips for Building a Gingerbread House With Kids

with Jenny Gordon

Building a gingerbread house with kids makes good memories. Just remember to keep safety in mind, share the tasks, be creative and have fun.See Transcript

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Transcript:Tips for Building a Gingerbread House With Kids

Hi, I'm Jenny Gordon. I've done hundreds of gingerbread houses through the years, and today, for About.com, I'm going to show you how to involve your children in making and decorating gingerbread houses.

Ingredients Needed for Gingerbread Houses

We use:

  • 1 c. shortening (I use butter)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar
  • 5 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 to 3 tbsp. ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions for Building a Gingerbread House With Kids

Always keep safety in the forefront of your mind. I don't plug in my mixer until we're absolutely ready to start. I have two children, so we try to divide up the jobs equally. I always let the children add the ingredients, because again, this has a nice guard on it so they can't get their fingers caught in the paddle. I don't turn it on until all the ingredients are added anyway. There are certain things that moms need to do themselves. I like to add in the molasses because it's so slow to pour out. Now we're finished mixing our gingerbread, and we're going to put it in the refrigerator to chill for about three hours.

More Instructions for Building a Gingerbread House With Kids

These are actual cookie cutter templates to make a mini gingerbread house. The trick to cutting out the dough with carboard template pieces is a pizza cutter. You're going to lay this up against the side after you've floured it real well, and just zip, and make a nice cut.

Additional Instructions for Building a Gingerbread House With Kids

Parchment paper is a baker's best friend when it comes to gingerbread houses. I'm patting out the dough so that it's a little bit easier for the kids to roll out. Use 1/8-inch dowel rods as a guide. If it's too thin, it'll just snap after you put it together. I'm going to leave the dough pieces on the parchment paper, because once you lift them, they're going to start losing their shape. We want the pieces to be very hard, so we're going to bake them at 375 degrees F for about 15 to 20 minutes.

We have baked our gingerbread pieces, and we've stored them for several days while we went shopping to get all kinds of fun candy to use while we're decorating our house. Chiclets gum; Rolos make good fence posts; gumdrops. Then we have little novelty things. We live in Florida, so there's always a chocolate alligator on our gingerbread house. Caramel squares for a chimney; candy canes - we make light posts out of these; pretzels hold things up, also make good fence posts.

We're going to make two sugar cone Christmas trees, and we'll put them on our platter a little bit later on after they've dried. I've made some green royal icing. It dries rock hard, and it dries relatively fast.

Notes on Building a Gingerbread House With Kids

Kids are always going to lick their fingers and eat the candy and lick the candy, so if you're planning on giving it as a gift, you might want to rethink that. But it's about making the memories.

Other Tips for Building a Gingerbread House With Kids

I just take my green wreath ring, make a nice little bow on the top. I always make sure each of the kids has their own icing bag. I always put a rubber band around the end of the bag, and I just use disposable bags. And that way when the kids squeeze the bag, the icing doesn't come out the other end. Sometimes it's easier to decorate the rooftops before you ever put them on. The kids have decided that they would like to do an entire house out of bubble gum. We're going to make siding for our house. Miniature chocolate makes a nice little door.

The best thing to do to start your gingbread house is to just make big lines with the royal icing, and some up the edges. If you need the sides to set up for a while before you put your roof on and you don't want to sit there and hold it too long, just put some canned goods inside.

We always make a waterfall in our yard and a little pond, and of course, that's where our alligator hangs out. So here's our gingerbread man. I always give him a prop of a pretzel.

We made a huge mess. I used my dollar-store tablecloth. Throw the tablecloth away for easy cleanup. Thank you for watching, and for more family baking tips, visit Homecooking.About.com.

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