Update: I had the quantity of coffee wrong. Sorry! It is now corrected.
My kids wanted to make a Gingerbread house again this year so I have pulled out my German recipe book and started baking. Lately I have seen several Gingerbread Houses on North American blogs and noticed a big difference. The German recipe is made with honey and the dough is very similar to cake. You spread it out on a cookie sheet and cut the shapes after it is baked. There is also very little ginger in the dough. You can read more about it here.
In North America however the Gingerbread Houses are made like cut-out cookies out of a dough sweetened with molasses and spiced with large amounts of ginger.
What I really like about the honey dough is that it has such a nice scent and you will notice it whenever you come home. It is also fairly quick to make.
This is my recipe:
German Gingerbread ( Lebkuchen)
450g honey ( or 300g honey and 150g dark molasses)
1/2 cup strong coffee
pinch of salt
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground allspice
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
4 tsp cocoa powder
1 Tbsp rum (optional)
Heat honey, sugar, butter, salt and coffee in a saucepan until butter is melted. Let it cool.
Pre-heat oven to 400°F/ 200°C.
In a bowl combine flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and the spices. Mix with liquid ingredients, adding the two eggs and the rum. Stir until dough resembles brownie dough.
Grease a large cookie sheet ( 15 1/2 x 21 1/2 inches/ 39cm x 54cm) with butter.
Using a spatula dipped in water spread the dough evenly onto the cookie sheet about 1/4 inch thick. Add several holes with a toothpick.
Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Watch out for bubbles which need to be deflated before they set.
Let the dough cool for about 10 minutes, then flip it out onto the counter. Let rest over-night*.
Cut out the house parts using the template and glue together on a base ( we used cardboard covered with parchment paper) with Royal Icing.
*The dough gets hard while it rests. It might be easier to cut while it is still fresh, but I have not tried that
4 egg whites
pinch of salt
400g powdered sugar
Using a stand-mixer beat the egg whites in a clean bowl for a few minutes until you have high volume. Add the powdered sugar slowly spoon by spoon. Beat for 5 to 8 minutes more until the icing is shiny and peaks hold their shapes.
Fill into 2 piping bags or several small zip-lock bags. Let not dry out. To make filling an piping bag a bit easier stick it into an empty water glass. I also like to use an ice-cream scooper. Twist the top of the piping bag several times and secure it with an elastic.
Small zip-lock bags are easy to use for children. Just snip off a small corner and squeeze the icing out.