A Ginger Bread Village

Ginger Bread Village @ClemmoHello, y’all! Merry Christmas!

I think I caught a baking fever lately. John likes to say the coolest aspect of living with a Frenchie is that when she is doing well, she bakes like crazy — and when she is down in the dumps, she cooks crazier.

I have been in the US for more than two months now, and I absolutely love it; the hardest part is to be far from my group of friends. It is harder than I thought to stay in touch with everyone. If you read me, you should know you are irreplaceable <3

I can’t wait to receive my work permit (soon!). It will be easier to meet people, and I will bring my home-baked pastries to work instead of being a glutton at home.

This week, I wanted to share with you a traditional Christmas recipe both in France and in the US: gingerbread and pain d’épices, or “spice bread” in French. Many families design a gingerbread house during yuletide festivities in the US; in France, and especially in the Eastern regions, “spice bread” is an institution, too. Below are the two traditional recipes. You can try to bake these cute little houses, directly imported from Hansel and Gretel’s tale.

I wish you a delightful holiday time, and I’m off to spend Christmas in Hawaii with my in-laws!

xoxo Clemmo

Ginger Bread Village @Clemmo 1- Traditional Alsatian “Pain d’Epices” – for the houses

Ingredients – For 10 miniature houses
– 1 cup flour (keep flour on stand-by; sprinkle dough liberally to prevent sticking)
– 2 teaspoons baking powder
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1 cup honey
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 teaspoon mustard powder
– 1 teaspoon ginger powder
– 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– 1 teaspoon allspice
– 2 eggs
– 1/2 cup warm milk

Preparation – 90 min.
– In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, vanilla and the spices.
– Gently heat the honey in the microwave, then pour it onto the other ingredients and mix.
– Add the eggs, then add the milk. Mix until smoothe — no powder chunks!
– Pour the batter in a buttered mold.
– Bake in the oven at 320° F for an hour. Once cooked, set the bread aside and wait until cold to remove from the mold.
—> With a large knife, cut the crust off the bread in the shape of a simple house, as pictured above. The key is to make a flat bottom and a ^-shaped roof.

For the gingerbread cookie roof, use the recipe below!Ginger Bread Village @Clemmo2. American Gingerbread Recipe – For the roofs and other cookies

Ingredients – for 30 cookies

– 3/4 cups brown sugar
– 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
– 3 cups flour
– 1 egg
– 1/2 cup molasses (or honey)
– 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
– 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
– 1 tablespoon ground ginger
– 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
– 1/8 teaspoon salt
– 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
– 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preparation – 2 – 8 hours (including rest time)
– In a small bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and dry spices.
– In a larger bowl, beat the butter with the sugar, then add the egg, molasses and vanilla.
– When the dough is smooth, divide it in two halves, then wrap each half in plastic wrap and let them rest for at least two hours at room temperature. The longer you wait, the more airy and light the texture will be.
– Adorn a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
– Clean a wide space on a table or counter top. In this space, unwrap one half of the dough, keeping the plastic sheet underneath the dough. (Quick note: If the dough sticks to the plastic wrap, remove the plastic gently and sprinkle flour on the space and the dough.) Flatten the dough with a floured rolling pin to a thickness of about 3/4 centimeter (or 1/4 inch).
– Cut out the cookies in your desired shapes; for the roofs, cut little rectangles with a width and length according to the size of the houses you cut during step 1.
– Preheat oven to 375° F, and bake for 8-10 minutes.

Ginger Bread Village @Clemmo 3. Decoration

– 1 cup powdered sugar
– 1 egg white, whisked until strong
– Decorative confectionary icing
– Candies, chocolates, mini Oreos…

– Mix powdered sugar in the beaten egg whites until a paste forms. You can use this mixture as a glue to stick the roofs to the houses. Careful, it dries rapidly.
– You can use the rest of the paste to create icicles dripping from the houses’ roofs!
– Draw winter designs, doors and windows on the houses with the icing tube.
– Finally, add colorful candies.

And voilà!

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I am a serial craft maker with a cooking addiction and an uninhibited love for pretty things. Apart from that, I am a remarkably balanced person.
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