Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Graham Cracker Gingerbread Houses & Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett

Someday, when the kids are a little older, we'll try whipping up a batch of gingerbread and building a real gingerbread house. For now though, they are perfectly happy to build their own graham cracker "faux" gingerbread houses. It's less cooking for mom and a lower stress craft because there is always another graham cracker available if one of the cookies crumbles in construction.

Before we built our houses, we read a couple of instruction guides including Tiny Christmas Craft: Graham Cracker Gingerbread House and Martha Stewart's Cookie Cottages How-To.

I decided to stir up my own recipe for frosting, using a couple cups of powdered sugar, a couple tablespoons of milk, a few tablespoons of soft butter and a little vanilla for flavoring. I don't measure, I just dump and add until I get a smooth enough consistency so it pumps easily out of my frosting decorating gun. (I know, the no recipe thing drives my friends up the wall, but that's just how I operate.) We pre-cut our graham crackers, and I piped a rectangle outline of frosting on a plate to serve as a foundation. From there, we built the four walls (place the two ends on the inside of the longer walls -- otherwise the roof will not cover the entire top of the house). Our frosting held the walls together well right away, but, just to make sure, we let the frame dry up a little before placing the roof on top. While we were waiting for the walls to dry we decorated the two roof panels with candy. We attached the roofs, fully decorated to the top of the wall frames with frosting and used a length of fruit roll-up to finish the peaks of the houses. Our leftover Halloween candy came in quite useful for decorating the houses. This little activity kept the kids busily occupied for over an hour, and they both were very proud of their finished homes. Now they are waiting for little gingerbread babies to move in!


Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett; Putnam Juvenile (October 1999); ISBN 9780399234446; 32 pages
Book Source: Copy from our personal library

If you're looking for a book to go along with gingerbread houses, I don't know of a better one than Jan Brett's Gingerbread Baby. The book is a twist on the classic story of the Gingerbread Boy and has a much happier outcome. Matti and his mom bake a gingerbread boy together, but Matti, unable to wait any longer, steals a peek at the baking cookie and out jumps a baby gingerbread cookie. Instead of running after the Gingerbread Baby along with everyone else, Matti stays behind in the kitchen and whips up a fancy plan to catch the runaway cookie. Jan Brett's illustrations and decorative borders are fabulous, like always, and my kids absolutely adore the lift-the-flap gingerbread house on the final pages.

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Anonymous said...

The houses turned out really cute! I think it's a great idea to use the graham crackers.

poison_ivy777 said...

So cute! Wish I'd have thought of graham crackers! And I had to laugh reading your post because I just posted my gingerbread house one and was gonna share that SAME book! lol - so I put a link to your blog for my readers to come check it out!

Christy Killoran said...

Gingerbread Baby is a great book! We have always used a kit to make our gingerbread house. I love the idea of making our own gingerbread, but it seems like a lot of work when my kids won't eat the gingerbread. I don't know, maybe someday. Anyway, I love your graham cracker houses!!!

Tracey M. said...

Wow, do these look yummy! We get to make our gingerbread home at our mom's group this week.

Jenny said...

Cute gingerbread houses! We haven't read Gingerbread Baby yet, but I keep hearing it's good!

Anonymous said...

The kids did a great job on their gingerbread houses. Yummy looking!

I haven't read Gingerbread Baby yet, but I have enjoyed reading some of Jan Brett's other books.

Amy B. said...

Yes, your no recipe thing drives your friends crazy :) We've been reading Gingerbread Baby daily at our house!

P.S. I'm impressed that you have a frosting decorating gun. But, then, you also saved me with the Bundt pan today. Thanks!