This is one of my favorite Christmas traditions! This one actually came from my husband’s family. Every year growing up, his mom would make these gingerbread sleighs for him and his siblings to decorate together. They all have fun memories of creating masterpieces with each other. I couldn’t wait to get in on the action! Soon after we got married, one of his sisters, Emily, typed up the family recipe and gave everyone copies, so we could continue the tradition in our own homes. We love it!
Every year we buy a bunch of candy and set aside one night to decorate our Sleighs. A few days before, I make and roll out the dough (using a silicone baking mat (such as Silpat) makes your job a lot easier). I take my paper pattern pieces (you can print the page out and cut out the patterns) and lay them on the rolled out dough and cut around them with a sharp tipped knife. Then I bake the Sleighs parts and let them dry out for a day or so. The night before we decorate them, I assemble the Sleighs using the frosting in a piping bag. When this frosting dries, it gets very hard, which is great for assembling and decorating. This recipe will make 6 seighs. The next evening we put our candies into different bowls and make a piping bag of frosting for each person. Our favorite decorating candy are the mini M&Ms; they are the perfect size! Of course you need a variety of candies, though. I regret that the Sleigh pictured is so boring; I wish I could show you some of my husband’s creations. He makes winter scenes out of skittles, and holly wreaths out of sculpted Starbursts… his Sleighs are always awesome! Be sure to buy a pack of candy canes for the sleigh runners. I forgot to do that last year and my husband was appalled that we would not have runners on our sleighs! (Clearly I’m a beginner at this tradition! :) As you can see in the picture, we had to make do!) After our sleighs dry, we fill them up with homemade candy and deliver them to neighbors and friends.
What a blast! I hope some of you will have fun with your families making Gingerbread Sleighs this month. :)
Submitted by Erin ~ The Sisters Cafe
Pattern for Sleighs here (Print this out on a scale of 150%, so that it fills the whole 8×10 page with only small margins.)
7 c. Flour
2 t. Baking Soda
1 t. Salt
1 t. Ginger
1 t. Cloves
1 t. Allspice
1 t. Cinnamon
1/3 c. Shortening
1 c. Brown Sugar
1 ½ c. Dark Molasses
2/3 c. Cold Water
3 Egg Whites, Room Temperature
1 lb Powered Sugar (3 ¾ c.)
½ t. Cream of Tartar
Dough: Stir together dry ingredients and set aside. In a large bowl, beat shortening, brown sugar and molasses until well combined. Stir in water. Beat in flour mixture gradually. When dough becomes stiff, work in remaining flour mixture with wooden spoon, or hands, mixing well. Wrap and chill dough for several hours. (I do it overnight)
Print out the pattern for the sleighs. When you click on the link, go to the “scale” box at the top of the page, and select 150%. This should enlarge the picture so that it fills the entire 8×10 page, with only small margins. Print it off and cut out the paper pattern pieces.
When you are ready to cut out the gingerbread sleighs, divide dough in thirds. Roll out on floured surface to ¼” thick. Place pattern on dough and carefully cut out with small pointed knife. The recipe will make at least 6 sleighs, maybe more if you roll it thinner. For each sleigh you cut out one small rectangle piece, one large rectangle piece, and two of the large sleigh side pieces- but you need to flip the pattern over on the second sleigh side piece so the two of them are mirror images of each other, so one can be a left side and one can be a right side of the sleigh. Place pieces on greased and floured cookie sheets and bake 15 min at 350 degrees. Cool on cookie sheet, then remove carefully to racks and let stand several hours to dry out. (Once again, I let these sit over night)
Icing: Beat 8-10 minutes or until medium stiff peaks form. Keep bowl covered with dampened towel so that icing does not get hard.
To assemble: Assemble the sleighs about 1 hour before decorating or the night before.
The small rectangle goes in the front, on an angle coming out, and the large rectangle goes in the back, also on an angle going up and out. There is no bottom to the sleigh.
Pipe a line of icing down the edges of the rectangles and press them against the inside of the large sleigh side pieces. You can put a rubber band around them while they are drying to keep them together, or you can stabilize them by leaning them up against something to dry.
Decorate: With icing, attach a 6” candy cane to each side at the bottom to form runners. Decorate with any candy that dresses it up, fill with goodies and give away! It’s good to let it dry overnight before giving it away.
(I like to use the small size of Wilton goody bags with the silver twist-ties for the candy bags. I buy them at Michaels.)
Note: For quick repairs in case any candies or decorations fall off during the holiday season, wrap a pastry bag filled with a small amount of icing in a damp paper towel and place in a plastic bag. Store in the refrigerator.