Every year in December, my two girls and I spend an entire weekend knee deep in flour and sugar. Gluten-free flour that is. A whole weekend is devoted to the making, baking, and decorating of a gingerbread house and some delicious men, women, angels, and trees to accompany it. This was probably our 4th year of making a gluten-free gingerbread house, but our first at making a gluten-free and vegan one!
My friends chuckled when they saw our creation. Our house was laden with refined sugar and artificial colours. (Please don’t hold this against me!) I went for the experience – in the kitchen laughing and giggling with my girls. I did not strive for perfection, although the intent was there.
Again, I struggled with the whole candy thing. Didn’t we just finish with Hallowe’en? My girls understand my reason for grimacing at even the slightest mention of the word “candy”. Since they were able to speak, I have told them what was really in candy and how it can affect the body. Yet, I have never said “no” when they have asked to eat their birthday party loot bag or Hallowe’en stash. I have always told them that because we put healthy food in our body on a regular basis, our body can dispose of the “bad stuff” more easily. I have also spoken about moderation. So, leading up to this gingerbread making weekend, I was forced to give my lecture on candy and certain bodily functions.
However, my attempts at convincing these kids to make a more “natural” house decorated with nuts, seeds, and gluten-free cereals failed miserably. They wanted a colourful one. End of story. I told myself I wasn’t going to stress about this. After all, my two girls make healthy choices nearly everyday (even when I’m not around, so I’ve been told) and they have adapted very well to the fact that our refrigerator no longer contains dairy, meat or eggs. I compromised. You have to pick your battles, right?
I have made this recipe several times and it’s delicious. It also bakes firm creating the perfect sides for a gingerbread house.
Try to use organic ingredients for a little less of the evil.
GLUTEN-FREE AND VEGAN GINGERBREAD (makes 1 small house)
- 1 cup brown rice flour
- 1 cup arrowroot starch
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg (I love grating my nutmeg – much more flavourful!)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon guar gum
- 1/2 cup dark, unsulphured molasses
- 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1/4 cup vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- extra rice flour for dusting rolling pin and surface area (if required)
- vegan icing (has a hint of peppermint!) – http://web.vegetariantimes.com/recipes/9980
Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside. Cream vegan butter and sugar on high for about 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add molasses and vanilla and beat until well combined. Slowly, 1/2 cup at a time, add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and beat until dough becomes stiff.
At this point, you can place the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper and roll to 1/8 ” thickness. You can then use lightly dusted cookie cutters to cut cookies or, if making a house, use a straight edge and knife to cut away sides and roof.
Or, you can make it easier, and have your kids press the dough into a greased gingerbread house mold. I have a wonderful gingerbread house mold that was given to me years ago for Christmas. I recommend this mold from Lee Valley – http://www.leevalley.com/en/gifts/page.aspx?cat=4,104,53214&p=43793 . You can make either a log cabin or a Victorian house. Outdoor lovers that we are, we always choose the log cabin.
Bake dough at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.
Once baked, let your house sides and/or cookies cool for a good few hours before decorating. If assembling a house is in the plan, use an icing tube to apply icing to the sides. Also, you may have to hold the sides together for a few minutes while the icing hardens and “glues” the sides together.
If you, too, decide on a “colourful” house, I recommend skittles. These candies are both gluten-free and vegan.
For a recent and extensive list of gluten-free candy, including chocolate bars, see this website – http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/glutenfreefoodshopping/a/GFcandies.htm
See here for a list of vegan candies – http://www.peta.org/about/faq/which-candies-are-vegan.aspx
Have fun! And, if you have had success at convincing your children to create a house full of nuts and seeds, I would love to hear your strategy! 😉