While at Disney World we stopped by the Grand Floridian and picked up all the information for the gingerbread house and ornaments they make during the Christmas season on property. Here is the recipe and the layout and sizes they recommend for the house. For the ornaments you could use cookie cutters.
Total Time: 8 hr 45 min
Prep Time: 2 hr 0 min
Inactive Time: 6 hr 0 min
Cook Time: 45 min
Yield: 12 ornaments
6 1/2 cups honey
12 cups bread flour
1 1/2 ounces powdered baker’s ammonia (ammonium carbonate)
1 cup water
1 (16-ounce) bottle light corn syrup (2 cups)
8 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3 1/2 tablespoons ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons ground clove
4 tablespoons ground ginger
Milk, for brushing dough
4 egg whites, room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
For Honey Dough:
In a large saucepan, bring the honey to a boil over medium heat. Immediately remove the pan from the heat. Pour the honey into the large bowl of a stand mixer and slowly add the bread flour, using a bread hook. Continue mixing until dough is smooth, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Allow the dough to cool, then wrap with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature. This dough needs to set up overnight at least, but can rest up to 2 months.
For Spice Dough:
Dissolve the baker’s ammonia in the water in a large mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Add the eggs and corn syrup and mix until combined.
Sift the flour and spices in a separate large mixing bowl and gradually add the flour mixture to the wet mixture using a bread hook on the electric mixer. The dough will become very stiff; do not overmix, simply incorporate the flour.
Cut the honey dough into 3 portions and add it into the spice dough, 1 portion at a time. You need to make sure that the honey dough and spice dough’s are completely combined. To make sure that they are, you must knead the dough by hand in a fold-and-press motion on a lightly floured work surface. This will take a long time, but is totally necessary.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Lightly flour your work surface and work with 1 portion at a time. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out until it’s about 1/4-inch thick. While rolling, flour the work surface and rolling pin, as needed.
Using your gingerbread house template, cut out desired shapes with a floured butter knife. Transfer the shapes to a greased cookie sheet or sheets, using a large floured spatula, placing them 1-inch apart. Reroll the scraps to make the additional cookies or decorations used for the gingerbread house.
Lightly brush dough with milk and bake until firm to the touch in the center and the edges begin to darken, 10 to 14 minutes. If the dough begins to bubble at all, pierce it with a toothpick to remove the air, and then carefully smooth out the surface. Remove the house pieces from the oven and allow to completely cool on the cookie sheet.
For Royal Icing:
Do not begin to make the icing until the gingerbread house pieces are completely cooled and you are prepared to assemble the house.
Beat the egg whites until light and fluffy, about 5 to 7 minutes, in a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed.
Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and cream of tartar; beat until combined.
Add the lemon juice and beat on high until the mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks, at least 5 to 7 minutes.
When finished, cover the icing with plastic wrap, making sure that the wrap touches the icing completely.
For Gingerbread House:
Cut out a large cardboard base that is large enough for your gingerbread house and strong enough to hold the weight. Cover it with aluminum foil or wrapping paper.
Spoon some of the royal icing into a pastry bag fitted with 1/4 to 3/8-inch diameter tip. Keep the remaining icing covered so it does not dry out.
Assemble the walls of the house, piping thick lines of the icing onto the sides of the walls that meet. Use cans of food to support the walls when drying. If the edges of the pieces are not straight, you will need to cut them. If they are not smooth, you can run a nutmeg grater over the edge to smooth it out. Allow the icing to dry completely before attaching the roof pieces.
Once the roof is secured and the icing is dry, you may decorate the house with the remaining icing, cookies and candies as desired.
You will need to set aside a few days to make the house. The honey dough needs to rest overnight. Once the gingerbread pieces are baked, we suggest you allow them to cool for at least 4 hours. Once they are cooled completely, you can assemble the house. Allow the icing to totally dry and harden, then decorate the house as desired.
Baker’s ammonia is also known as ammonium carbonate, and can be found at drugstores. It must be finely ground. You may notice an odor of ammonia while baking, but this will quickly dissipate and will not have an odor or taste when completed.
When preparing the royal icing, you MUST make sure that the bowl and all utensils used are free from any traces of grease. The smallest trace of grease will not allow the icing to firm up.
When you are deciding on a gingerbread house template, please keep in mind that it cannot be larger than the cookie sheet you are using to bake the pieces.
When combining the honey dough and spice dough, it is very important that you combine them completely. Otherwise, the house pieces will cook uneven and the flavor will not be consistent. This process will require a lot of “elbow grease” when combining. Because the dough is so thick, you will need to do it by hand.