At long last, Christmas vacation is upon us! All the tests have been taken! The novels have been written (okay, 50 pages) and sent in! The homework is finished! Ah, the feeling of satisfaction, the pure Christmas spirit flowing through your veins!
What does that mean? Time to party, of course. And by party I mean stay home and sleep.
|More like "working on my night cake". source|
What else does that mean? Free time. Loads of free time. Free time which we can use quite productively in the making of things like, say, homemade gingerbread houses.
I’ll admit—I actually whipped up this house last weekend, when I had nothing to do and only a couple last scraps of homework ahead of me. But the point remains. Making gingerbread houses from scratch and doing all of this Martha Stewart shit is for lazy days. Lazy days, people, not weeknights.
|If you're the type of person who would make this, you probably don't want to make a gingerbread house from scratch.|
My mother, a busy urban professional with a life to attend to, was a bit skeptical when I announced my grand plan to make a homemade gingerbread house. She sighed and rolled her eyes and clucked her tongue—but to no avail, for Baby June is unstoppable. Recipe in hand, I set out to conquer my own boredom and procrastibake—and assemble—and decorate—the day away, insisting that yes Mom I know what I’m doing and no Mom I’m not going to end up wasting ten jars of coconut oil and yes Mom it will be so, so worth it.
And indeed it was. There were a few mishaps, yes. At one point, I attempted to make vegan royal icing using Ener-g egg replacer, thinking back to my success with those vegan macarons, only to realize that it was very drippy and not at all pipe-able, and even so I had the brilliant idea to smear it all over my carefully-baked gingerbread cookies and end up with a slightly messier gingerbread house than I had intended. However, the recovery was quick, as buttercream came to the rescue and all was well.
|As you can see here.|
I used Sprinkle Bakes’ two gingerbread house tutorials as inspiration, given that she is basically the goddess of making beautiful desserts. The door, you will notice, is an amateurish marzipan version of the one present in one of her tutorials, and the template (which I will add is a very simple one) is also from one of her tutorials. The dough is adapted from her recipe as well.
But what makes this particular gingerbread house unique is its vegan-ness.
Yes. This is vegan. ALL VEGAN.
I may have used ten thousand jars of coconut oil for it, but the result was very much “worth it”. The house is now allergy-friendly and 100% edible and vegan, and it will taste a thousand and one times better than those crusty store-bought kits they sell at the dollar store. Which are really gross and might as well be made out of cardboard.
To take this to the next level, I also used all-natural coloring agents, including beet puree (as seen on the wittle bitty Christmas trees) and matcha buttercream (same as the one I used with these cupcakes). Even the marzipan is homemade.
Yep. I went there. Baby June, queen of all-purpose flour, has now expanded her queendom to the realm of naturalness.
|I'm sorry but I just have to share all of these totally unique photos with you.|
And now, witness the recipe.
Homemade vegan gingerbread house
Adapted from Sprinkle Bakes
Makes one medium house
440 grams • all-purpose flour • 3 ½ cups
4 grams • ground ginger • 2 teaspoons
3 grams • cinnamon • 1 ½ teaspoons
4 grams • baking soda • 1 teaspoon
3 grams • salt • ½ teaspoon
226 grams • coconut oil, softened • 1 cup
165 grams • light brown sugar • ¾ cup
168 grams • molasses • ½ cup
50 grams • silken tofu • ¼ cup
2 grams • vanilla extract • ½ teaspoon
Sift flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, beat coconut oil until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add brown sugar for another minute. Add molasses and beat once more until fluffy, another 2 minutes. Now add the tofu and vanilla; combine for 2 minutes once more. With mixer on low speed, spoon in flour mixture and combine just until incorporated.
Gather dough into a ball and divide in half. Shape each half into a ball and flatten to a disk. Wrap disks in plastic wrap and chill until firm, for at least 4 hours.
After chilling, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out each disk of dough between two sheets of parchment paper to about ¼-inch thickness. Cut out dough using the template found here. Transfer pieces to parchment paper (careful!), spacing about two inches apart.
Bake one sheet at a time until the tops of the cookies are dry and slightly darker around the edges. It will take about 8 minutes for smaller shapes and up to 15 minutes for larger ones—make this easier by putting the smaller pieces all on one sheet.
Once cookies are done baking, re-cut the gingerbread pieces using the templates and a sharp knife to ensure the pieces are of proper dimensions. Let cool completely before assembling.
You may have leftover dough. Roll dough into balls and press down on a parchment-lined baking sheet with a fork. Bake for about 12 minutes. You can eat them plain or crush for use as a walkway (as I did).
226 grams • coconut oil, softened • 1 cup
360 grams • powdered sugar • 3 cups
45 grams • nondairy milk, at room temperature • 3 tablespoons
4 grams • lemon extract • 1 teaspoon
2 grams • matcha powder • 1 teaspoon
4 grams • beet puree • 1 teaspoon
Place coconut oil in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Beat until light and fluffy. With mixer on low speed, add powdered sugar; beat until smooth. Add nondairy milk and lemon extract and whip until light and fluffy.
Divide frosting into three bowls, with about ½ of the frosting in one and the remaining ½ divided between the two others. Stir matcha into the larger portion of frosting. Add beet puree to one of the smaller bowls. Leave one of the bowls plain for assembly.
1 recipe marzipan
12 grams • granulated sugar • 1 tablespoon
Pinch matcha powder
To make a mini Christmas wreath, cut out a doughnut-shaped piece of marzipan. Whisk together granulated sugar and a pinch of matcha in a small bowl until the sugar reaches a green color; cover the marzipan with this mixture. Press a few dried cranberries into the dough for ornaments.
Roll out marzipan to about ¼-inch thickness. Cut out a door and windows for the house and set aside until needed.
Marzipan wreath, windows, and doors
Crushed gingerbread cookies (made from leftover dough)
You may want to consult Sprinkle Bakes’ tutorial for this set of steps, as she has quite a few great pictures to use as a guideline while assembling the house.
Start by gathering up your gingerbread pieces. Pipe frosting on the short sides of a front / back piece and attach a side piece to each side. Hold the pieces in place for 2 to 3 minutes, or, as I do, use soup cans as props. Coat the remaining front / back piece and attach in the same way; let set for another few minutes.
Pipe more frosting under the edges of the roof pieces and place on the top of the house. Be extra careful with these so they don’t slide. Let set once again.
Once the house is fully set, you can begin to add decorations. To attach marzipan windows, door, and Christmas wreath, pipe a bit of frosting onto the surface of the house. Attach the piece and hold or prop it in place for a few minutes until set. Add red flowers to the windows and green leaves.
Now, generously sprinkle powdered sugar in a large tart pan. Carefully place gingerbread house in tart pan (feel free to glue in place with some more frosting). Press crushed gingerbread cookies in a little pathway in front of the house. Pipe swirls of matcha frosting to make Christmas trees; decorate with little dots of red frosting. Add any other decorations you wish. Sprinkle the whole thing with powdered sugar, and there you go: a homemade, vegan gingerbread house. Put that shit on instagram.
|It's...kind of gory.|
Yes I know the recipe is so long as usual and I’ve probably apologized for that like twenty million times but this occasion it is especially important, since most people skip this whole tedious (but fun! I swear!) process and just buy a kit. It’s not as hard as it looks (as I have also impressed upon you twenty million times). If you stick the cookies in the freezer while you whip up some buttercream, time passes quickly and before you know it you’ve got some intense gourmet-looking shit on your hands. And it’s glorious.
|AS I WILL DEMONSTRATE WITH ONE MORE PHOTO.|
Even if the end result is not perfect, the feeling of satisfaction (of having proven your worth as a Martha Stewart-in-training; of having done something your mother thought you could not do; etc. etc.) is worth much more. You will squee over your adorable buttercream trees and fawn over your little marzipan wreaths. And you shall feel like Mrs. Claus herself.
And now (as if this post isn’t long enough), a few other (slightly less labor-intensive) cookies you may find helpful for the holiday season.
Salted double chocolate caramel-stuffed cookies. Also extremely from-scratch, with homemade chocolate-covered caramels.
Pumpkin spice chocolate chip cookie sandwiches with chocolate buttercream. A white girl’s dream.
Salty sweet toffee cookies with chocolate glaze and candied pecans. Salt makes all the difference.