Gingerbread houses with their pretty decorations all covered in icing and candy have always fascinated me. Modern gingerbread houses have their roots in European traditions ranging from simple cottages to elaborate constructions. So it was that when we chanced upon this set of German Nativity gingerbread molds, I had to bring it home as I also collect Nativity sets.
Nativities have a timeless charm to them, depicting an event bridging heaven and earth. The reason for the celebration is the birth of the Christ Child. The angels proclaim, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace and goodwill to all men.” Without Christ, there is no Christmas.
The cookie molds came with a gingerbread recipe which was a little different from the American gingerbread. It uses honey and treacle instead of molasses and calls for gingerbread spice. As I have never been a fan of heavily scented gingerbread cookies, I decided to give this recipe 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 of half honey and half treacle. It tasted really good.
Making the dough, cutting the little figures, and slabs of walls and base were easy enough. Transferring the huge base slab to the cookie sheet was a little tricky. A third of it actually broke off and I had to re-attached it on the cookie sheet. I was really happy when all the large sections came out of the oven intact.
- 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.
Next came the decorating of the figures and the construction of the manger. An extra pair of hands was needed to prop up the large sections of “wall” and put them together. I enlisted my trusted helper, Ro-Ri San.
The process was very time consuming but we had fun putting it together. Finally, it was done and we could stand back to admire the outcome.
The Wise Men…
The palm trees were fun to decorate but were a little top heavy and difficult to keep erect.
I added the Star of Bethlehem. It did not come in the kit.
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…
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 8)