Recipe: Gingerbread Birdhouse

gingerbread birdhouse 

    An adorable Gingerbread Birdhouse...

    Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked gingerbread cookies at this time of year.  Every Christmas, we make at least a batch or two of these delightful cookies and frost them to delicious perfection!  This year, I decided to take our gingerbread cookie baking a little further by creating a whimsical, silly gingerbread birdhouse for you all to enjoy.  I made a double batch of this recipe, so there was more than enough to make the gingerbread birdhouse and lots of other Christmas shapes to munch on!  Special thanks to my sister Candi for helping me with this recipe and taking some of the house assembly pictures!   If you'd like to make one of these cute gingerbread birdhouses yourself, here's how it's done!
 
Ingredients:

Dough

5 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2  teaspoons baking soda

3 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 cup molasses, warmed

2 teaspoons vanilla

Buttercream Frosting

1 stick butter, softened

2 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar

4 teaspoons cold milk (approximately)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Decorations

Raisins

Chex Mix (original)

sprinkles (any kind of Christmas themed sprinkles and colored sugar)
 
Instructions:

Note: Here is the template for creating a replica of this birdhouse - its available in free PDF form by clicking on the links below. You'll need both Template 1 and Template 2 for building this birdhouse.

Gingerbread Birdhouse Template 1

Gingerbread Birdhouse Template 2

 

Dough

    Preheat oven to 375*F.   In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla. 

butter

Butter...

brown sugar

Measuring out the brown sugar....

    Warm the molasses on the stove, but don't let it boil.  Next, add the molasses to the sugar and butter mixture and mix well.  Add the eggs and mix until combined. 

eggs

Eggs...

    Next, add the baking soda and ginger. 

ginger

Adding the ginger....

baking soda

Measuring out the baking soda....

    Finally, add the flour and stir until mixture forms a smooth dough. 

flour

Adding the flour....

finished dough

The finished dough....it should be soft and pliable - not crumbly and not too sticky.

    Form the dough into a ball and wrap in parchment.  Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

dough

Ready for the refrigerator!

    Remove from the fridge and cut dough into quarters.  Roll one portion of dough out on a floured cutting board until it is between 1/8 and 1/4 of an inch thick. 

gingerbread

Rolling out the dough....

    Cut out the provided template with a pair of scissors and lay the paper down on top of the dough.  Carefully cut around each template piece with a knife. 

cutting out the house

     Once you've cut out all the house pieces, use cookie cutters of your choice to cut out the rest of the dough.  If you're making gingerbread men, don't forget the raisins for eyes, nose and buttons! 

gingerbread men

'Gingerbread Baby' anyone?  I think I need to read Jan Brett's story now :)

    Transfer the cookies to a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 5 - 8 minutes, depending on the thickness of your cookie.  5 minutes works great just for cookies, for the house you'll want to bake the pieces for at least 8 minutes, even a little more if necessary.

cookies

Ready for baking...

    After baking, let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely before frosting. 

baked cookies

    I recommend storing your cooled cookies in an air tight container for a day before assembling your gingerbread birdhouse. 

Frosting

    In a medium sized bowl, beat one stick of butter until the texture is light and fluffy. 

butter

Butter for the frosting....

    Sift the powdered sugar and add it to your butter mixture.  Mix together, starting the mixer slowly at first. 

sifting the sugar

Sifting the powdered sugar....

powdered sugar

Measuring the powdered sugar - be sure to measure after you sift.

    Next, add in the milk and vanilla and whip until mixture turns into a smooth frosting. 

adding the milk

Adding the milk....

finished frosting

Finished frosting....

    Fill a piping bag with frosting - use immediately.

piping bag

Filled piping bag....

Assembly & Decorating

    Set up a work station with your house pieces layed out on one platter and your other cookies on another.  Pour your toppings (raisins, Chex mix, etc.) in seperate bowls for easy access while decorating.   Set your filled piping bags in another bowl to keep any leaking frosting contained.  Now you're ready to get to work! 

gingerbread birdhouse pieces

Birdhouse pieces.....

    Decorate your other cookies as you wish.  You may need to make more than one batch of buttercream if you plan to spread frosting over the whole surface of your other cookies.   

    To assemble the gingerbread birdhouse....

    Pipe all four edges of your gingerbread house base with frosting. 

gingerbread house frosting

Piping frosting around the edge of the base

    Set up the sides, front and back of your house vertically as shown. 

birdhouse assembly

Setting up the sides....

setting up the front

Setting up the front....

    Once these pieces have set for a few minutes, pipe the roof line and set the roof pieces in place.

piping the roof

Piping the roofline....

gingerbread roof

     Use measuring cups to support the roof and keep it from sliding until the frosting has set and dried somewhat.  Now its time for the decorations!  I piped frosting onto the roof and decorated it with Chex to serve as the 'roof tiles' or shingles. 

roof shingles

Installing the roof tiles...

roof shingles

One finished side....

    Pretzel rings were the perfect complement to the entrance hole on the front of the birdhouse. 

front

Front of the house....

    I also used the pretzel rings as 'wreaths' on the front and back of the birdhouse.  I also used the pretzel squares as the windows. 

windows

Installing the windows....

    I attached all the decorations to the house using the buttercream frosting.  Raisins, other crackers and frosting piped to resemble icicles and snow completed the look. 

gingerbread house back

The back of the house, finished....

    As I finishing touch, I sprinkled the frosted 'snow' with Christmas sprinkles and added a dusting of powdered sugar. 

finished house

The finished birdhouse....

    Viola!  The Gingerbread Birdhouse is finished!

    Merry Christmas!

  By, Jessi Wasell