Teaching your students to cook is a valuable life skill to pass on and
a great family fun activity. Gingerbread people are a holiday tradition
that helps your student to learn to bake, measure and follow written instructions
while giving them the opportunity to exercise their creative side. Gingerbread
people also make great gifts from young students to friends and family members.
When students follow recipes, they get invaluable practice that will stand them in good stead in the lab. Scientific experiments are very much like recipes. Students learn to read the instructions through from start to finish first. Then follow each step. They also learn to measure and add ingredients one at a time, just like they would in a scientific experiment.
Students also learn how to follow a recipe and basic baking terms like stirring, folding, sifting etc.
Here is a basic gingerbread recipe:
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup unsulfured molasses
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. In another bowl, beat the sugar and butter together until creamy. Add the egg and beat for another 30 seconds. Add molasses and beat for 2 minutes. Add vanilla and beat for 30 seconds.
Take one cup of dry ingredients at a time and add them to the butter mixture. Every time you add a cup of dry ingredients, stir until well mixed. When you have added all the dry mixture, stir until you have a stiff dough. Use your hands to roll the dough into a big ball. Press down with your palm onto the dough to flatten it. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly flour your countertop and your rolling pin. Roll out the dough until 1/8 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut out your gingerbread people. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes.
Take the cookies out of the oven and let them cool completely. Now decorate with icing and candy.
You can use the same recipe to make gingerbread houses. Put the dough on floured parchment paper and then roll it out. Cut out squares or rectangles that are the same size for the four walls and two sides of the roof. Bake in the same way and leave to cool. Use icing sugar to secure the four walls to each other and then put the roof on. Decorate with candy and icing sugar.