The after school gingerbread project: mixing the dough

Like most Christmas baking projects, this one starts with butter and sugar. Not much sugar, though, as most of the sweetness of the dough comes from molasses. And what a fine dough it is, fragrant with spices and supple to the touch.

Today’s project is to mix up our gingerbread dough and let it chill in the refrigerator. We’ve already assembled our ingredients, now it is time to wash our hands, tie on aprons, and begin!

The full recipe is at the bottom of the post, but first, watch Noah (he’s 8 and wearing the red shirt) and Mateo (who is 5, and wearing black) mix up their dough. I turned the mixer on and off for them, but they prepared the rest.

The after school gingerbread project: mixing dough // www.simplebites.net

The packed brown sugar, the cane sugar and the butter goes into a big mixing bowl. Have a grown up help you start the mixer and get it creaming – that means to make it smooth.

The after school gingerbread project: mixing dough // www.simplebites.net

Noah sifts the flour, salt and baking soda together while Mateo grinds the cloves and allspice in a small mortar and pestle. Fresh spices taste so much better than their pre-ground versions, so when we have time, we like to crush our own. Plus, it’s a great way to make muscles!

The after school gingerbread project: mixing dough // www.simplebites.net

Next up: whisking the spices into the dry ingredients. Teamwork!

Mateo’s tip: “Be careful you don’t get cimanin (cinnamon) in yer eyes.” This is why they are tightly closed, by the way. He has experienced this in the past. Oops!

The after school gingerbread project: mixing dough // www.simplebites.net

Measuring molasses is fun, but sticky business. Same for cracking eggs. It’s okay to get your hands dirty for both of these jobs.

Noah’s tip: “Crack your egg on a flat surface, like the counter, not on the edge of a bowl, or you might get eggshell in your egg.”

The after school gingerbread project: mixing dough // www.simplebites.net

Both the egg and the molasses go into the mixer where our butter and sugar is smooth and fluffy. The mixer has been working hard!

See? The counter is getting a little messy, but we’re almost finished.

The after school gingerbread project: mixing dough // www.simplebites.net

Lastly, Noah adds the spiced flour mixture, cup by cup, to the mixer, and the dough forms. Both boys have a taste, of course.

I think it is good!

The after school gingerbread project: mixing dough // www.simplebites.net

The recipe makes a nice big ball of dough. You can divide it into 3 or 4 pieces, and wrap them well in plastic. Put them in the fridge to rest.

We’ll see you tomorrow!

Gingerbread Dough
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Recipe type: Dessert
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Prep time:
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A fragrantly spiced, supple cookie dough, perfect for rolling and cutting. Once the dough is made, it can chill in the refrigerator, well wrapped in plastic, for up to 5 days. Alternatively, stash a few rounds of dough in a resealable bag in the freezer and freeze for 3-6 months.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup raw cane sugar (or granulated)
  • 1/2 cup packed organic demerera sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 large egg
Instructions
  1. In the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.
  2. In another large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Set aside.
  3. Add the molasses and egg to the creamed sugar and butter. Mix until well combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  4. Add the flour and spices mixture to the mixer in three parts, mixing on low speed until just combined.
  5. Empty the bowl of cookie dough onto the counter and use your hands to bring it all together.
  6. Divide the dough into three pieces and form into disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight or up to 4 days. You can also freeze the gingerbread dough.

Coming Up:

Introduction to the project.
Day 1: List of ingredients and equipment.
Day 2: Make and chill the dough.
Day 3: Cut and bake the pieces.
Day 4: Prepare Royal Icing + assemble the base.
Day 5: Decorate!

Hashtag your gingerbread house projects on Twitter & Instagram with #TASGP, and I’ll share a few photos in my next weekend links!

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. La Torontoise says:

    Aimee, your post is very inspirational! Engaging children in a project like this is a great way to make pre-Christmas-time memories.
    What a coincidence: last night, I had a cooking project with our 9 years old son; he did brownies from scratch – with my help in the critical moments (for example using the mixer). He was proud of his work and wanted to share it with his friends…

    I look forward to hearing about the next steps in your kids’ project.
    All the best!

    • Sounds like he is well established in the kitchen. Christmas is such a good time to engage the children in the kitchen; there’s always something delicious happening. 😉

  2. Oh, Aimee – I LOVE your boys’ tips! They’re adorable – I also love that Mateo has gingerbread dough on his face in the last photo. So very much like our house! 🙂

  3. Thank you for doing this! So much fun! My three year old is dying to get to the decorating part! Good lesson on patience!

  4. Mateo’s face in the last picture is priceless! And now I’m craving gingerbread…=)

  5. Question for you-What type of molasses did you use? I had blackstrap in my cupboard, but the dough was so crumbly and tough that I couldn’t roll it out. I’m hoping I can make a new batch when the kids are at school today.

    Thanks for the inspiration! I think this will be the start of a new h0liday tradition!

    • Hi Julie. Oh dear. I used just regular fancy molasses. The brand is Grandma. 😉 I hope you have a chance make another batch.

      I’m thrilled you are inspired. Really. Please email a photo of the process or the finished result, as I’ll post a photo round-up closer to Christmas.

  6. How many houses will this batch make? If I’m going to make 4 houses using the template you used, do I multiply the recipe by 4? Or did you have enough for more than one house?

    Thanks!

  7. Hi, Aimee – love your blog and recipies. I used this recipie (without a mixer) and it came out all crumbly. Do you think more butter or molasses would fix it? Its chilling right now, and I’m hoping I can think of what to add to salvage it – that’s a lot of flour and butter to throw out.

    • Hi Jill. Please don’t throw it out! Perhaps it didn’t get quite enough creaming. It will come together somewhat in the fridge, but when you are ready to roll it, let it come up to room temperature. Then work it a but with your palm and add a few drops of water if it is still crumbly. It’s a very forgiving dough, so don’t worry, this won’t change the taste or anything. Happy Baking!

  8. Hi, Aimee,

    Is it necessary for the dough to chill overnight or would a few hours do a trick. Even better, could we begin cutting and baking immediately after making the dough?

    • Hi Cassidy,
      I have done all of the above. 🙂 Feel free to get rolling, the dough may puff a little more in the oven and the shapes may be a tad distorted, but they will still taste great.

      Happy baking!

  9. Hi Aimee,
    Thanks for sharing this blog, actually the kids are really adorable and I love when kids put their hands in the kitchen. It’s so cute.

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