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Gingerbread House

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 
I regularly teach food-related classes to Pre-k, Kindergarten and 1st graders. I have been asked to produce 100 miniature (6-8") gingerbread houses for the kids to assemble &/or decorate. Anybody have input on a recipe that is durable and will withstand the assembly by said individuals? Other tips for this class more than welcome. Thanks!!

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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post #2 of 51
Hi Jim,

I did something similar last year in Amys fifth grade class.

I used grahm crakers because I didn't have time to make gingerbread for 28 kids LOL
I made the royal icing at home and all the kids donated gum drops,dots,coconut ECT, I made 30 parchment paper pastry bags and filled them at home as to avoid a huge mess.

The kids also brought cut out card board for the base.
I got popscicle sticks to help spread the icing to.
Then we went to it..It was quite the project:D
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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post #3 of 51
Thread Starter 
CC,
I never considered the graham crackers! I have been researching the recipe archives from all over the 'net and it seems that the gingerbread recipes, in quantity, are rather involved. The crackers may be worth investigating.
Thanks for the help, as usual.

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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post #4 of 51
Jim,
Your welcome.
Maybe try it at home with your kids first.

I hope W.Debord,Momoreg and M Brown see this thread..I'm sure they as well as others can help to.
Let me know how it turns out.
Chow
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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post #5 of 51
I've done exactly what cape chef has suggested. Plus made little Xmas trees from a rice krispy treats recipe using corn flakes instead of rice krispies and tinting the marshmallows green. Roll in some sprinkles for the lights.
post #6 of 51
ziplocs make great pastry bags....milk cartons are the base of the graham house....marshmellow snowmen. Have fun I always had a blast with that project
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #7 of 51
Jim,


There has been discussion in the past on gingerbread houses. M. Brown had found a course for pre baked gingerbread house parts and moulds to bake the different parts.


Sugarcraft
When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

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When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
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post #8 of 51
At the club I worked for, for the childrens x-mas party each got to decorate their own houses. Good solid advice: DON'T EVEN DREAM OF MAKING THEM YOURSELF FROM SCATCH!

I used to make 50 plus at a time, about 4"x6"x 10" high and it takes a while even with a double deck convection, freezer space ....blah blah. 100 for a non-pastry person= about 5 DAYS time.

Using graham crackers works great, I've done that before for ornaments. I use boxes all the time to fake houses (for show pieces), that's always the quickest method.

If you have to assemble these ahead of time I would really consider skiping the graham cracker too. By the time you frost your base and assemble 100 it's a whole day and no where to set them. Plus transport them? I would consider using something like milk cartons (Or some cheap bozes a little larger), frost them, put a couple crackers ontop for the roof and call it good or let them assemble the crackers around a box. Take a small break to let them dry before they decorate them.

At the least, you'll have to put the milk carton under your graham crackers for transportion (if you make them). Another thing I used to run into alot is children that don't understand the cookies break and they'd put too much pressure on it while decorating. Which means you can spend alot of time attempting to fix them, plus theres times when you can't fix them and you have a crying scene.

I've also had problems with paper cones. They squeeze to hard and it blows out. Lots of long storys I'll cut short: use any small baggy (zip locks are nice but cost more $) a twist tie on cheap baggies worked fine.

Also keep your color choices to a min. It takes alot of paste to color royal icing, mainly offer white. Don't use liquid colors!

If you keep your icing in a non-pourous container you can make it the day before. 1# xxxsugar, 3 whites and 1/2 tsp. tartar works perfect.

Also the rise crisp treats (made with corn flakes and green food color) are a BIG hit, and not to time consuming to make.
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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post #9 of 51
I agree. You will be making dough, rolling, re-rolling and cutting for days, not to mention baking all those parts! Go with what's easy. All you need is white royal, and may I once again recommend the royal icing mix, for safety's sake.

Every year I do 15-20 houses, and get a bunch of people together to help decorate. I buy dozens and dozens of candies, fill aluminum half pans, and just place the pans down the center of the table. Then people can pass the pans of candy down the table, and slide the others over. It keeps things neat and organized. Although with kids, that may be a dream.

Decorations I can't live without: Necco wafers, Red Hots, M&Ms, Oreos, marshmallows, popcorn, gum, Tootsie Rolls, Pretzels.

I can't wait to hear how it goes.
post #10 of 51

Polaroid, big house, mini snack houses, pipe cleaners, candy...... sounds good!

If you ever do this for older humans, you can buy the parts and hot glue them together and let the good people decorate them.

For the little people, I would go with the graham crackers and either powder egg white or pasturized egg white or royal icing powder for the icing. I would also go for the ziplock (store brand) for bags, they are stronger than the fold top baggies.

Gum drops, necco waffer, smarties, mini candy canes, silver balls and sprinkles.

You may also want them to eat them there. so if they don't look so good, there will be no evidance!
oooh,,,Make a big beautiful one with them helping, let them make a mini graham cracker one and take their picture next to the big one and you holding their little one with a Polaroid and put that on a construction paper candy cane with a pipe cleaner hook for their tree or door knob!

if they have to transport a house home, yikes! in a back pack, on the bus.............

good luck!:lips:

stream of conciousness...............
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bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!


Professor Pastry Artswww.collin.edu
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post #11 of 51
Thread Starter 
The wealth of information and willingness of everybody to share that information never fails to amaze me. I posted a request for some information just this morning, and like magic I am blanketed with knowledge from some of the indutry's finest. Thank you all for the input.
I am glad that I was talked out of making all that gingerbread now, rather than once I had begun to bake it.
I will go with the milk containers and powdered royal mix. That sounds like the safest/sturdiest combo.
I will be sure to follow-up once the class is complete. Maybe Nicko will even let me post a picture or two of the classes and their projects ;)
Thanks again!! Your guys/gals are the best!

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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post #12 of 51
Yes! Pictures!
post #13 of 51
This is tons of fun Jim. We love helping.

Since the houses will be smaller using graham crackers you can try to bring their focus (and time) to the area around the house that can be decorated.

Upside down sugar ice cream cones can be trees.

Pretzels make great fences and piles of logs (for your fire places), you can make the exterior of the house look like a log cabin with pretzels.

You can buy cookies shaped like teddy bears (cheaply) they can decorate and place out front.

Candy canes hold up the roof over the front door and can be made into sleds with a cracker on top.

They sell gummy candies in O shapes that make wreaths.

Dried beans make a great path/walkway to the house.

Striped gum makes great shutters for thier windows.



Candies can get pretty costly for 100 kids, so don't forget other edibles:

Dry pasta comes in interesting shapes and it's very cheap to use as decorations as well as dried legumes.

Cereals can be used, theres lots of great shapes and colors.


I might be a good idea to make a couple samples at home to free up your time so you can cirulate and help them more on that day.
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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post #14 of 51
Or as CC said get the kids to bring in a bag of candy or garnish.
You should have parent volunteers that can arrange that shtuff...to get a good variety in.Halloween candies are going cheap in many stores still.....or I hit the discount 5 and dime....or bulk at the store to get a varied selection
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #15 of 51
This is so cool....

I think I gotta get out today and bulk up to make a ginger bread house with my girls.

You guys have incredible ideas:)

I love the pretzels for logs and dried beans for the walkway!!
cc
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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post #16 of 51
Halves hazelnut to use as rock on the chimney, or sugar cubes.

Round chocolate candy with non pareils for the roof. Or green gum pieces if looking for a log cabin look. Fruit roll ups also makess nice roof.


Gelatine sheet for windows...


How about a gingerbread replica of Notre Dame de Paris? I have the blueprint for it.


Think I'm getting carried away here.:D
When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
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When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
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post #17 of 51
I could see preschoolers looking at you with blank faces when you say Notre Dame.....
Love the geletine for windows....I like melted lifesavers for stainglass.
Alot of what you do is within certain time constrants I assume...and little bodies will not sit for extended periods.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #18 of 51
Oh yeah what I learned at Ice cream camp was feed um sweets right before they go home or else hyperactivity is forecasted in an enclosed space...cruel to caregivers but a classroom reality
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #19 of 51
I was afraid to post. I'm sure I'll be slammed. I would definately make real gingerbread houses. Everything in this country is going fake!!!!
I can't even imagine what it would be like to decorate a ginger house without the smell of ginger.
If you have a commercial oven it does not take that long. Design the patterns to fit 16x24. You can crank out the walls in a couple of hours and the roofs the same.
At the very least, If you can't do the houses, cut men and women for the to decorate.
I admit, we do not use the traditional recipe, but we have formulated a recipe kinda like ginger bread sugar dough that works well. Our trees and family are traditional.
Just my 2cents.
don't even ask how many villages and houses we will make!
santa:D

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post #20 of 51
Thread Starter 
Isa, I trust by your enthusiasm to make a replica of Note Dame, you will be assisting me. Email me and I will send you directions to Delaware:crazy:

I was planning on the following-
Pre-k decorating the pre-assembled houses
Kindergarten assembling the houses from 'kits', then decorating
1st Grade assembling the houses by selecting the pieces they need then decorating the house and surroundings.

I think the stained glass idea from melted Lifesavers will have to be reserved for the family gingerbread house rather than with the 100+ students. I would have a difficult time explaining to angry parents why their children's fingers were permanently adhered to a milk carton, their hair, clothes and books ;)
Panini, you do make me rethink the idea of making them from scratch. I want the kids to realize that they are making something rather than just assembling it. I have a few weeks to decide.
What a list of ideas for decorating.... Never would have thought about half of them! I think I will make a few examples at home utilizing different 'schemes' (i.e. roofing materials, siding, etc.)
Thank you!!!

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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post #21 of 51
Panini,
I understand your point,But keep inmind that Jim is a chef with little time on his hands.He has to produce "100!!!!" gingerbread houses.

Jim,Maybe take a little advice from the whole lot.
Use G,Crakers for the kids and bring the real deal assembled to explain to the little ones
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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post #22 of 51
Panini, I understand too why you'd want the kids to know about REAL gingerbread, but I agree with CC, that's a lot for one person to put together.
post #23 of 51
I understand perfectly what you all are saying. My suggestion would be not to do the houses. Do people or something. I'm just old fashioned. Graham crackers just don't seem xmas to me. Our holidays have turned so commercial and convenient. I just feel that decorating a gingerbread man or decorating something for the tree has the feel and meaning. I don't know. We will be making 4000 trees for the local kids to decorate. The ziplocks are a good idea but we have found that the rolls of disposable pastry bags are cheaper and when tied off don't burst.
I'm certain whatever is done will be fun.
panini
Hey, one more thought. How about an A frame house?

Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is Too Short!!
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post #24 of 51
I like this site: Enchanted Ginerbread

They have photos, recipes, and sell cutters to make small gingerbread houses and some other fun stuff.
post #25 of 51
Here's the basic problems you must figure out, and it will dicate what you do....

Will you pre-assemble the houses at their school? Will the children carry them home after class?

You have to first understand children at this age can not assemble a house BY THEMSELFS, period!
It's not that they can't make a square, but it's certainly harder than forming a square. I had a 27 year old prep chef help me assemble and he had a hard time forming them! (If you want me to go into specific detail I will but that's a novel!)

When you make gingerbread houses you need to WAIT
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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post #26 of 51
(oops, I hit the wrong button).

What I was saying is you MUST WAIT for the walls and roof to dry and become firm before you decorate! The outside of the royal icing will appear dry but it takes time for it to dry completely. Until it's completely dry to the center of the frosting it's not as strong as you'd think.

You will have a nightmare if you let young children assemble and decorate on walls with wet joints! They will colapse from the weight of the decorations and the children who think they need to PRESS on candies for them to 'clue'. Then have these kids carry around wet houses on buses. NO WAY they'll colapse just from the jossleing around. Ideally you should have a box for them to place their houses into to transport on busses or have them dry over night before moving.


"Making vs assembling" is too earily for this age group in these numbers to learn this, unless you break them down into small groups and actually have them roll out dough and bake it. I'm missing your point, Jim. Little bits of exposure have value too. 100 kids at this age is far more difficult than you might realize. At 9 and above they can comprehend assembling and decorating, before that your fooling yourself. A 6 year olds ability to decorate with a pastry bag is far more limited than you'd think. There will be accidents, bags that blow out, houses that colapse etc... a handful of children will require 90% of the adult help, the others will be more or less fine (You have to account for these problems with-in a PERFECT situation) 7 year olds do NOT have the spacial ability to assemble 3D houses with pastry bags for glue. Shouldn't this be fun for them, not frustrating?

We also had some parents book tea parties for their young children and I made gingerbread men and other fun figures for them to decorate 1D not 3D. That's every bit as fun for younger children!
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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post #27 of 51
Thread Starter 
Given my experience with this group, I have confidence that they will be able to assemble the graham-cracker-on-carton blueprint. The smaller children (pre-k) will work on pre-assembled (at my house, before the class) house. The Kindergartners will assemble and dress-up. The 1st graders will assemble, decorate and place the houses on a 'landscape'. I think I will produce a house a la Panini from real gingerbread and display it for the kids. There is something to be said for the real deal, while also keeping my sanity by trying to produce 100 of those little monsters. I think for the decorating we will steer clear of pastry bags (parchment or baggies) and go with popsickle sticks used like applicators for the frosting. With this plan, I am fairly certain we will have some positive experiences for the kids... seeing the project, watching it develop and then coming to completion; this is generally the message behind all of my classes. Today its PlayDough from scratch for the Pre-K classes.
I wonder what my hands will look like after tinting and dying 35 wads of play dough with concentrated food coloring?!:confused:

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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post #28 of 51
In my old neighborhood one of the mom's hosted a gingerbread house decorating afternoon for the neighborhood kids. She premade the house shell using the small milk containers and hot-glued the graham crackers to it, and glued that onto a (new) styrofoam tray like meat would come on in the grocery store. The rest of the parents brought candies to decorate with and cookies to munch on for the afternoon. My son made the neatest log cabin house using pretzels!
I think its important not to tell the kids what the roof and the walls are supposed to be made from. Their imaginations are so much more clever than anything I could imagine. And they loved to decorate the styrofoam tray too.
The finished product is not edible, but its so amazing that my kids never wanted to eat them.

This will be a fun project and the kids will remember it for a long time.

H.
post #29 of 51
Thread Starter 
Well, we begin construction of the 100+ mini houses on Tuesday. The construction of the 'real' gingerbread house has been on-going for 2 weeks. I am doing a model of the church across the street from the school where I am doing the class. It looks pretty good, thus far, but there is still plenty of time for me to wreck it!

Below is a list of candy I have asked the parents to contribute. Can you add any others? Am I missing something?

Candy “dots” (the little specks of candy on a strip of paper)
Gummi Rings/Circles
Necco Wafers
Candy canes (all shapes, sizes)
Pretzel sticks/rods
Shredded coconut
Peanuts/walnuts
Shredded Wheat Cereal
‘Nilla Wafers
Sprinkles

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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post #30 of 51
Breakfast cereals are great for shingles, roofs, walkways, etc. There are so many shapes and possibilities.

Mini marshmallows are great for snow, snowmen, stone walls.

M&Ms. What's a gingerbread house without 'em?

Tootsie rolls make excellent logs.

Popcorn looks cool as smoke coming out of a chimney.

Sanding sugar or edible glitter makes everything sparkle!

Rock candy looks like ice.

Life savers and Jolly Ranchers are colorful and versatile.

I could go on and on...:)

Hope you have fun.
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