Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Baking Gingerbread...for our Business!

When I was a young girl my parents wanted to help me be able to earn money so that I could go to camp in the summer. They created a home business for me around Christmas time making gingerbread houses and selling them. It started out very simple and over the years we improved the recipe, the decorations and eventually our sales! It has become quite the family business...as my younger siblings and I grew our role in the business changed.

When you are small your  first job is to unwrap candy for the decorators...then you move up to standing for 12 minutes at a time to make icing for the decorators (who were always so impressive) then you got to place candy on for the decorators after they had put icing on. Eventually you worked your way up to having a small part in decorating that you were responsible for. One day you graduated to being part of the business owner! :-) I've been out of the business since I've been married and quite missed it...but this year my sister Beth and I are taking it back. We got the coveted gingerbread house cookie cutters (they don't make them anymore that i can find--and ours are taped together they are so old--18 years). We thought we would try out the business in our new town so we have started our adventure!

For those who are curious we sell our houses for $18 or 2 for $30. We make our gingerbread from scratch and spend hours decorating them. Everything is edible except for the cardboard base. We also shrink wrap them so they come giftwrapped and stay in tact better. We are looking for ways to get the word out this year. I'll post more on the decorating and selling later.

All that to say...my sister and I got together and baked on Sunday. I had never baked the gingerbread because my Dad always did it for us, he is the BEST gingerbread baker ever! And he has perfected the recipe. I am sharing the recipe below so that others can have amazing tasting gingerbread. We mix molasses and honey so its dark but sweet--it is soooo yummy!

Foster's Gingerbread Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 5 1/2 - 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons powdered ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cups molasses
    1/2 cup honey
  • 2 eggs beaten 
    Preheat oven to 375°F. Thoroughly mix flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Melt shortening in large saucepan. Cool slightly. Add sugar, molasses and eggs to saucepan; mix well. Add 4 cups dry ingredients and mix well. Turn mixture onto lightly floured surface. Knead in remaining dry ingredients by hand. Add a little more flour, if necessary, to make firm dough. On floured surface, roll out 1/8 to 1/4 in. thick for cut-out cookies. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet, small and medium-sized cookies for 6-10 minutes, large cookies for 10-15 minutes. Really watch the gingerbread, you don't want it to get burnt or too hard, when they are still soft but firm and baked take them out! Note: If you're not going to use your gingerbread dough right away, wrap in plastic and refrigerate. Refrigerated dough will keep for a week.


6 comments:

  1. Wow! Now that brings back a lot of fun memories! I had no idea you wouldn't be able to find the cookie cutters for those houses now. I can't wait to see some pictures of what you two make. Have fun with it and good luck with the business! :) ~ Amy

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  2. I am going to miss working in the kitchen and filling the house with the aroma of gingerbread! I may have to come over one night and bake a batch and build a few houses just so I don't lose those skills I have perfected over the last 18 years. I found an old GBH "sign-up sheet" the other day...in one year we sold almost 100 houses. A lot of that was for an accounting firm that bought about 50 for their client Christmas gifts.

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  3. Ok, I gotta tell this story. One year Steph was delivering a bunch of gingerbread houses to my work. She had about a dozen houses in the trunk of her little Pontiac Grand Prix. On the way she got into a minor fender bender (she was ok). We hesitantly opened the trunk lid and inside it looked like a small tornado had gone through the gingerbread house neighborhood in Stephanie's trunk! The kids ate more gingerbread that year than ever before! :-)

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  4. I had no idea that's how the business started!

    So, the rest of the Fosters aren't baking & decorating this year?!

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  5. man! i will miss making gingerbread houses this year! :( i never got to move up to actually decorating the houses. i was always cutting stuff and unwrapping the candy! if dad goes up to help you can count on me coming with him! love ya!
    PS. i miss the smell of gingerbread and eating the dough dad let us have

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  6. What a cool story--that is such a neat tradition!

    Just did a quick Google search for "Gingerbread House Cookie Cutters".... I don't know how big your houses are in the end, but I did find this set (says the houses stand about 8 1/2 inches tall):

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00004Y5PO?ie=UTF8&redirect=true&tag=craf-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00004Y5PO

    There were more similar ones out there (I did an image search to help narrow it down), but that one was the one that caught my eye.

    Anyhow, best wishes finding another set eventually! It sounds like such a fun tradition!!!! :)

    Hope you are all doing well! We may be heading out the Roanoke way tomorrow to pick up something, I will wave toward the mountains and say "hi" to you if we do! :) Hopefully we'll actually get to meet up sometime soon for real, ha ha! :D

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