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Mayor Mint and Pepper Mint Present: Gingerbread Creation

Mayor Mint and Pepper Mint Present: Gingerbread Creation

Making and decorating gingerbreads is a Discovery Cube holiday tradition! Join us this holiday season as you design, make, and decorate your own unique gingerbread creation. Younger children may need more adult supervision.

Gingerbread Science Adventure

Time Needed:
2+ hours
Grade:
Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade
Subject:
Engineering, Physics
Educator Rating:
0
Parent Rating:
0

What I'll Learn

Gingerbread structures may look simple to make, but they actually take a lot of time and attention to detail.  Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to make your own gingerbread creation – even if you are building and decorating one from a kit.

 

Download this template now so you can check if off your supply list below:
Gingerbread Cube Template

What to Do

What I Need

What to Do: Step-by-Step Instructions

1

The first step in making a totally awesome gingerbread creation is thinking up fun ideas. What do you want to turn into a gingerbread masterpiece?

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2

Now it’s time to create your design. Draw out your idea – do you like how it looks? If you want to build a pre-designed structure, you can use a gingerbread kit or use our template to create a Cube.

Fun Fact:

Taking time to think about and plan your design is an important part of engineering. In fact, engineers follow a process called “Engineering Design” where they ask questions, imagine ideas, plan by making sketches or models, create through building, test to make sure it works, and improve upon their design based on their tests.
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3

Use a ruler to draw out each side of the structure. Then cut out the pieces. Use masking tape to assemble a 3-D model of design. Does it stand up on its own? If not, how can you modify your design to make it structurally sound? Once you’re happy with your design, disassemble your paper model, trace the shapes onto parchment paper, and cut.

Tips & Tricks:

Even though it might seem like a lot of extra work, making sure your gingerbread will stand up on its own before you cut and bake your gingerbread will save you a lot of time.
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4

How much gingerbread will you need to make build your creation?  Lay your parchment paper shapes on your baking sheet.  This recipe will make enough gingerbread to fill a 9×13 inch sheet.  If you need more dough, double or triple the recipe.

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5

It’s time to make your gingerbread! Gather your ingredients: flour, dark brown sugar, molasses (you can substitute dark corn syrup), cinnamon, ginger, cloves (they’ll make your gingerbread smell great, but you don’t need to use them), butter, and egg.

*If you are using a pre-made kit (either building it as-is or modifying it to fit your design), skip ahead to step 15.

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6

Using your electric or stand mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy.

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7

Before breaking the egg, wash your hands with soap and water.  To separate the egg yolk from the egg white, crack the egg in half along the widest part of the shell.  Over the small bowl, carefully separate the shell so each hand is holding half the egg shell – make sure the egg yolk is still inside one of the shelf halves.  Transfer the yolk from one shell to the other until all of the white drips into your bowl.  Wash your hands with soap and water.  Add the egg yolk to the butter and beat well (save the egg white for making royal icing).

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8

Add molasses to the egg and butter mixture and beat until smooth. On low, mix in spices and sugar. Gradually add flour and mix on low until flour is all incorporated. Finally, mix on medium speed until well blended.

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9

Lightly sprinkle a little flour on a clean work surface.  Remove the dough from the mixer and knead until it comes together to form a stiff dough.  If it is too crumbly, add ¼ teaspoon water.  (If you are using a stand mixer, you can continue mixing using the paddle attachment until a stiff dough forms and you don’t need to add any extra flour.)

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10

Use your hands to shape the dough into a rectangle and wrap it in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until firm.  To speed things up, you can put it in your freezer.

Fun Fact:

When you chill this dough, you are turning the butter or margarine (fat) back into a solid and giving the sugar time to absorb some of the liquid in the dough. Colder fat and less liquid means your dough will spread less, helping your gingerbread to keep its shape – an important fact when you’re using your gingerbread for construction!
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11

When dough is firm, preheat oven to 350°F.  On your clean work surface, lay a sheet of parchment paper large enough to fit your pan.  Place your cold dough in the middle of the parchment paper.  Put another large piece of parchment paper on top of the dough.  Then roll out the dough to the size of your pan, so it is about ¼ to ⅓ inch thick.

Tips & Tricks:

Keeping the dough between two layers of parchment paper makes it easier to roll and manage, without changing the consistency or color of the dough.
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12

Remove the top layer of parchment paper and replace it with the parchment paper templates you created in step 3. Using your ruler as a straight edge, cut out the shapes, and remove the parchment paper templates. Then carefully lift the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cut gingerbread and place on your baking tray.

Tips & Tricks:

Leave all the scraps around the edges of your cuts (including inside the windows and doors), as this will help keep the gingerbread from spreading while cooking.
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13

Bake for about 16-20 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and the insides are no longer shiny.  After it’s baked for about 5-7 minutes, check to see if there are any puffed up areas, which are signs of an air pocket.  Gently poke them with a toothpick so they deflate.

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14

Remove from the oven and immediately lift the parchment paper and gingerbread from the tray.  While the gingerbread is still warm, use your knife or pizza cutter to re-cut along all your lines, discarding the scraps.

Fun Fact:

Even though the scraps look tasty, they may not be great to eat. This gingerbread recipe is designed to be “construction grade”.
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15

After the gingerbread pieces have hardened and cooled completely, you are ready to start assembling your gingerbread creation.  Use your royal icing as glue to hold the pieces together.

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16

It’s time to decorate!  What do you want your gingerbread house to look like?  Be creative and have fun.

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