Special equipment: Heavy cardboard base for the house Pastry bag with a medium plain tip and a small plain tip
In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and mix until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time until incorporated. Add the molasses and vanilla and mix. Sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, cloves, and salt. Working in batches, and mixing after each addition just until combined, add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture. Shape the dough into a thick disk, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease 2 cookie sheets.
On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough in half and roll each piece out into a large 1/4-inch thick sheet. Transfer the dough sheets to the sheet pans; then cut out the required shapes with your templates (see Gingerbread House Templates below).
Bake until stiff and toast-y, about 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely.
Make the Royal Icing: In a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the confectioners' sugar and egg whites together. Add more sugar, if necessary, to reach a spreadable consistency.
Assemble and Decorate the House: Glue the house walls together by setting them up on the cardboard base, and piping the royal icing at the joints with a medium plain tip from the inside. Prop the sides up with wine or soda bottles and let set for 30 minutes. Attach the roof pieces, using the icing in the same way
Using a spatula to apply the icing, glue the frosted mini-wheats on the roof to look like thatching. Attach the front door, with hinges made from icing (leave it open to be more inviting). Decorate as you like, following the suggestions in the ingredient list, using the icing as glue, if needed. Use a small plain tip for any filigree style decorative line work, you may want. *RAW EGG WARNING Food Network Kitchens suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly-cooked eggs due to the slight risk of Salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only fresh, properly-refrigerated, clean, grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.
Gingerbread House Templates:
Brown paper bags, as needed
You'll need to make 7 templates, by drawing the dimensions out on brown paper and cutting them out. Use the templates as a stencil to cut the dough into the required pieces. Here are the templates you'll need:
Two front and rear walls: 5 inches high by 8 inches long. Cut out 2 windows from each wall, and 2 1/2 by 1 1/2-inch door in one.
Two side walls shaped like a house (triangle on a square): 5 inches high by 6 inches long, with a triangle 7 inches high on top (cut all in 1 piece). Cut 1 window out of each side.
Two overhanging roof pieces: 4 1/2 inches wide by 9 inches long.
One door: 2 1/2 inches high by 1 1/2 inches wide.
Consumption of raw or undercooked eggs, shellfish and meat may increase the risk of foodborne illness.
Recipe courtesy of Gale Gand