Construction Strength Gingerbread
If you plan to enter our Gingerbread House Competition this year, you'll need a gingerbread recipe that is stronger than it is tasty. Chef Lisa's recipe for Construction Strength Gingerbread is still entirely edible, but its main purpose is to serve as architecturally sound building blocks for your gingerbread masterpiece.
Construction Strength Gingerbread
1 1/2 sheet pan
This recipe makes enough gingerbread dough to fill 1 standard 1/2 sheet pan, but you can double or even triple the recipe. I wouldn't recommend multiplying any further than that, because a home-size mixer can really only handle so much. It's important that everything gets mixed and distributed evenly.
When you have scraps left over, save them to create a "gingerbread clay".
This recipe is intended to be rolled out and cut using templates, then baked. Some recipes instruct you to bake a full sheet of gingerbread, bake, and then cut templates, but we've found you get cleaner edges and stronger pieces when you cut before baking.
1/4 Cup brown sugar
2 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 Teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 Teaspoon ground cloves
1/3 Cup + 1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
3 Tablespoon butter, softened
1 Teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 Cup all-purpose flour, plus a little for dusting
Preheat oven to 350º F. Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of a half sheet baking pan. Set aside.
Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon ginger, cloves, salt, 1/3 cup corn syrup, butter and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer that has been fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until smooth, then begin adding in the flour little by little, mixing well between each addition. Continue mixing on low to form a stiff, well mixed dough.
Turn dough out onto a well floured work surface and knead 2-3 minutes until very smooth. At this stage, the dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Remove from refrigerator and let sit on the counter for 1-2 hours before using.
Place the ball of dough onto your pre-cut parchment paper and roll out to an even 1/4" thickness all the way to the edges. Arrange your pattern pieces over the dough and, using a very sharp knife, cut out your shapes. Cut a second outline, about 1/2" from the first - this one can be rougher as it's just intended to create a "border" of dough around your shape to keep it from spreading. Remove the patterns and excess dough. Save the excess dough by forming into a ball and wrapping in plastic wrap.
Bake, uncovered, until the dough feels dry, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. Immediately cut around your shapes again - this will give you clean, precise edges that are easier to fit and glue together during the construction phase. Let cool about 20 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack and cool another half hour minimum, until completely cooled.
Place any un-used dough scraps in your mixing bowl, and begin mixing on low speed. Add water, 1 teaspoon at a time, while the mixer is running. Scrape down side of bowl, keep mixing, and continue until you have a perfectly smooth, stiff pate.
Fit a piping bag with a round tip and fill with the gingerbread paste. Pipe shapes such as fences, window frames, or trees directly onto a parchment paper lined pan and bake, 10-12 minutes at 350º F. Allow to cool completely before using.
- Marguerite Jodry