Much like first-time homeowners, first-time gingerbread house builders would be smart to start small. When it comes to building gingerbread structures, remember that practice does make perfect.

Begin with something basic and rectangular before attempting a full-blown Victorian with front porch and multiple roof lines.


Gingerbread Dough

There is no egg in this dough. It will roll easily and hold its shape while baking. The recipe yields enough dough for a medium-size house, approximately 5x6x8, with a few details.

INGREDIENTS:

■ 1 ¼ cups dark brown sugar, packed

■ ¾ cup molasses

■ ½ cup unsalted butter

■ 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

■ 1 tablespoon ground ginger

■ ½ teaspoon salt

■ 1 ¼ cups milk

■ 1 tablespoon baking powder

■ 6 ½ cups all-purpose flour

INSTRUCTIONS:

In medium saucepan combine the brown sugar, molasses, butter, spices and salt. Stir over low heat until the butter is melted and sugar dissolves, about 10 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk and remove from heat. Allow to cool completely.

Transfer milk mixture to large mixing bowl. Add the baking powder and flour, incorporating with an electric mixer beginning with the slowest speed. Increase the speed until all flour is evenly incorporated. Divide the dough in half, shaping each portion into a round disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight.

Note: Dough can be prepared in advance and frozen, then thawed in the refrigerator before use.