This month seemed like a good time to focus on sharing holiday traditions. I reached out to former Board Member and Community Gardener Jolly Corley to share her family’s recipe for gingerbread.
For the past decade she has hosted a gingerbread decorating gathering at her house for local friends, carrying on a tradition her family had when growing up.
“My mom is from California but married my dad who was from Indiana and that is where they ended up...and of course where I grew up,” Jolly said. “My mom’s family was always willing to meet us "halfway" between California and Indiana. Which for them meant Colorado.” Her mom would bring the ingredients with them in the car on the long drive from Indiana to Colorado and then her family would bake and decorate the gingerbread together.
She shared a story from her Aunt who uses the recipe to make gingerbread people and her children would decorate them for their cross-country team, in the team’s uniform… the fun thing about gingerbread people is the possibilities are endless as far as decorating goes!
“The recipe comes from Betty Crocker's cookbook from the early 70s (maybe late 60s). As far as making the houses, I just download a template and use that. I also double the recipe for my kids and then make more depending on how many others are joining us! Of course, as my aunt's story mentions these are great for gingerbread people too. We like this recipe because they are delicious so if you nibble a little while creating it tastes good...and they smell so nice. To make houses the chilling is essential to help hold the shapes.”
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 t salt
1/2 t soda
3/4 t ginger
1/4 t nutmeg
1/8 t allspice
Cream shortening and sugar. Blend in molasses, water, flour, salt, soda, and spices. Cover; chill 2-3 hours
Heat oven to 375. Roll dough 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured board. Cut out pieces of house or gingerbread people; place on ungreased baking sheet.
Bake 10-12 minutes. Immediately remove from baking sheet. Cool.
Using royal icing or whatever preferred icing you like create your Gingerbread House or people or both;-)
She said, “Oddly enough I can't find a single photo of the kids actually making the houses...probably because it is so ‘hands on.’” The photos she sent are of her kids when they were little, they are now in 9th and 12th grades but making gingerbread is still an important tradition. I’ve also included a photo from the gathering last year at her house with a group of family friends and some university students gathering to enjoy each other’s company while decorating gingerbread houses.
Traditions will have to look different this year due to Covid, but that will make them all the more special when we are able to gather together again in the future.