Gingerbread houses with their pretty decorations all covered in frosting and candy have always fascinated me. These edible works of art can range from simple cottages to elaborate castles. During the Christmas season, gingerbread kits can easily be found but Gingerbread Nativity is somewhat of a rarity. I was delighted to chance upon this German set recently and could not help but bring it home as I also do collect Nativity sets.
Nativities have a timeless charm. They depict the first Christmas and the birth of the Christ Child. The angels proclaim, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace and goodwill to all men.” For without Christ, there is no Christmas.
Anyway, these awesome cookie molds came with a gingerbread recipe which is a little different from the American gingerbread. It calls for honey and treacle instead of molasses. It also uses gingerbread spice. I decided to give it a try. Since I did not have treacle or gingerbread spice, I had to change things up a bit. I reduced the brown sugar and used all honey instead. For the spices, I used a mixed of ground cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. I was very pleased at the results.
Making the dough, cutting the little figures, and slabs of walls were easy enough. Transferring the huge base slab to the cookie sheet was a little tricky. A third of it did break off and had to be re-attached on the cookie sheet. Good thing they all came out of the oven intact.
Next, came the decorating of the figures and the construction of the manger. An extra pair of hands was needed to put the large sections of “wall” together. I had to enlist the help of Ro-Ri San.
Here is Mary and baby Jesus.
These are the Wise Men.
The palm trees were fun to decorate but were a little top heavy and difficult to keep erect. We had to “glue” them down with a little frosting.
The kit did not come with a star and so we used a small star shaped cookie cutter to make our own Star of Bethlehem. We attached it to the roof using a toothpick.
The process was very time consuming but we had so much fun putting it together. Finally, it was all done and we could stand back to admire the outcome.
Please visit again on Thursday for my Christmas post as I will be sharing some family pictures and also a special Nativity in my collection. In the meantime, here is the recipe for the gingerbread cookies. Please cut and decorate as desired.
- ½ cup (160g) honey
- 1/3 cup (80ml) water
- ¼ cup (45g) brown sugar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- 2 sticks (1 cup/230g) butter
- ¼ tsp salt
- 4 cups (600g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
Bring honey, water, and brown sugar in a small saucepan to a boil. Stir in ground cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Add butter and salt and stir till butter is melted and well combined. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
Combine all-purpose flour and baking soda in a large bowl. Pour cooled mixture in flour. Mix with a spatula and then knead into a soft dough. Wrap in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to about ¼ inch thick. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters.
Place on baking sheet and bake in a 375°F (190°C) oven for 12 to 14 minutes. Remove and allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day!