Meet Architect Susan Matheson, Co-author of The Gingerbread Architect: Recipes and Blueprints for Twelve Classic American Homes, published by Clarkson Potter, at a book-signing at The Glass House Visitor Center + Design Store, 199 Elm Street, New Canaan, CT, Saturday, December 1, 11am – 2pm.
*Enter in person for a chance to win a gingerbread Glass House baked by Sweet Lisa’s of Greenwich, CT + two tickets to a Glass House tour!
Susan Matheson, New York and London-based architect and avid baker, combines her two passions in her book Gingerbread Architect, a modern guide to the traditional holiday craft of creating gingerbread houses. Throughout the book, Matheson and her co-author, Lauren Chattman, provide a glossary of architectural terms, detailed blueprints and elevations as well as historical context and descriptions of prominent architectural features, made from gingerbread and candy. The perfect family project—for anyone with a keen eye and a sweet tooth!
Saturday, December 1, 2012, 11am – 2pm
Book Signing with Susan Matheson
Co-author of The Gingerbread Architect
The Glass House Visitor Center + Design Store
199 Elm Street, New Canaan, CT 06840
Holiday Shopping Hours
10am-4pm thru December 15th
(Closed Tuesday + Wednesday)
or Shop Online
Want to be a Gingerbread Architect?
Susan Matheson shares her best tips for building your own gingerbread house + her recipe for gingerbread dough! For more great tips pick-up a copy of The Gingerbread Architect from The Glass House Design Store, proceeds from sales support The Glass House, a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Tip #1: Schedule your time! Allow plenty of time to build your gingerbread house.
If you’re constructing a simple building allow one day to mix your gingerbread and bake your templated wall and roof pieces, allowing the gingerbread to cool before you assemble your house structure on the first day. You may want to assemble the roof early on the second day, leaving at least two hours for the icing to set and dry. On the second day decorate your building and don’t forget to landscape around your building, it adds a finishing touch!
If you have set your heart on making an elaborate gingerbread house, make sure that you give yourself the better part of a week to work on the house. Make sure that the icing holding building walls together has plenty of time to dry so that the house structure is firmly held together before you attempt to put the roof in place.
Tip #2: Straightening the edges of your gingerbread pieces before you assemble your house will give you a better looking and a more structurally stable house.
Take a quick look at your gingerbread walls and roof pieces when you remove them from the oven. If the walls or window openings have pillowed during the baking process and are no longer straight, take a long sharp knife, and while the gingerbread is still warm and a bit soft, carefully trim the gingerbread pieces so they are straight.
When the gingerbread pieces are cool you can carefully pick up the individual pieces and using a rasp, or microplane, gently sand the edges straight. The straighter the walls, the greater the surface contact between icing and gingerbread, and the stronger the gingerbread building will be. If you still have some gaps they can usually be covered with more icing or decorative candy.
Tip #3: It’s surprising how quickly Royal Icing will harden, so make sure that you put a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the icing (touching).
I love using the plastic piping bags for icing; they’re inexpensive, make cleaning up a breeze, simplify the decorative piping process, you can easily see the icing colors inside and the icing will keep for a surprising amount of time when stored in the refrigerator. Keep the tip of your piping bag covered with a damp cloth to prevent the icing from drying out. Storing the leftover icing in the refrigerator is handy for re-attaching candy that breaks off or gets devoured! Of course, the down side is that the plastic bags are not easy to recycle.
Also, always have a butter knife, a knife with a small sharp point and a slightly damp cloth handy for quick touch-ups when you’re piping icing. You can gently scrap away icing mistakes, carefully straighten icing lines and with the damp cloth you can gently wipe the residual icing from the gingerbread surface.
Tip #4: Make a plan for decorating your house before you begin to bake.
Select a color palette and buy your candy keeping in mind what you would like your house to look like and where you would like the candy to go.
Finally, make sure that you have fun, even if aspects of your gingerbread house don’t turn out as you had planned.
Gingerbread Dough Recipe
A large stand mixer, like the KitchenAid, accommodates one batch of dough. If you are using a smaller, less powerful mixer, you will have to make two half recipes.
1 CUP VEGETABLE SHORTENING
1 CUP SUGAR
2 TEASPOONS BAKING POWDER
2 TEASPOONS GROUND GINGER
1 TEASPOON BAKING SODA
1 TEASPOON SALT
1 TEASPOON GROUND CINNAMON
1/2 TEASPOON GROUND CLOVES
1 CUP DARK (NOT LIGHT OR BLACKSTRAP) MOLASSES
2 LARGE EGGS
2 TABLESPOONS WHITE VINEGAR
5 CUPS UNBLEACHED ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR
MAKES ABOUT 3 1/2 POUNDS
1. In the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the shortening and sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until well combined.
2. Add the baking powder, ginger, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cloves and beat until incorporated.
3. Add the molasses, eggs, and vinegar and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary.
4. Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, and mix on low until smooth. Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a rough square. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days.
HALF-RECIPE GINGERBREAD DOUGH
1/2 CUP VEGETABLE SHORTENING
1/2 CUP SUGAR
1 TEASPOON BAKING POWDER
1 TEASPOON GOUND GINGER
1/2 TEASPOON BAKING SODA
1/2 TEASPOON SALT
1/2 TEASPOON GROUND CINNAMON
1/4 TEASPOON GROUND CLOVES
1/2 CUP DARK (NOT LIGHT OR BLACKSTRAP) MOLASSES
1 LARGE EGG
1 TABLESPOON WHITE VINEGAR
2 1/2 CUPS UNBLEACHED ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR
MAKES ABOUT 1 3/4 POUNDS
Proceed as for full recipe