Gingerbread Log Cabin

The gingerbread log cabin has been a holiday tradition since I was a little girl. This design was originally created by Mrs. Leta Dahlgren of Redwood City, California; I first made the gingerbread log cabin with my grandmother Rae. As I got older, my grandmother would mail us the baked gingerbread pieces and my mother, brother and I, would make the powdered sugar icing and build the log cabin together as a family. Although I didn't have any on hand, my favorite finishing touches were adding little pine needle trees we would collect from the backyard. I hold this family recipe dear to my heart, and was looking forward to recreating it with my little helper Tallulah.

The cookie cabin is easy to build. You roll out gingerbread dough and use cardboard patterns to cut out the rectangular roof sections, logs in several sizes, and little square spacers. After the cookies are baked and cooled, simply pile them up, using powdered-sugar icing for glue. The icing, sprinkled with powdered sugar, also makes snow for the roof and the base.
You can make cookies ahead, package airtight or freeze, then assemble the cabin when time permits. In damp areas, the cookies may absorb moisture and start to sag, so plan to keep the cabin just a few days before eating. In most dry areas, the cabin will keep about a week.
The patterns. Cut lightweight cardboard into a 4 by 6-inch rectangle (the roof); 1/2-inch-wide strips that are 2, 3 1/2, and 6 inches long (logs); and a 1/2-inch square (spacers). For the base, cover a 12-inch square of stiff cardboard with foil.

Gingerbread Log Cabin Cookies
Thoroughly blend 3/4 cup each sugar and solid shortening. Add 3/4 cup molasses, 1 teaspoon each salt, soda, and ground ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and allspice. Add 2 tablespoons water and 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted; mix well. Chill until firm, about 2 hours.
With a floured rolling pin, roll out 1/3 of the dough on a floured board to 1/8 inch thick. Make 2 roof sections by cutting around the roof pattern with a sharp knife. Gather scraps and roll out remaining dough to a generous 1/4 inch thick. Then cut out 8 logs 2 inches long, 2 logs 3 1/2 inches long, 17 logs 6 inches long, and 30 spacers, each 1/2 inch square. Use the remaining dough to cut out trees or other shapes for the landscape. Transfer the cookies carefully, arranging them about 1 inch apart on lightly greased baking sheets. Place the roof sections on a separate sheet.
Bake in a 350 oven for 12 to 15 minutes or just until firm to touch . As soon as roof is baked, lay pattern on each section. Evenly trim one long edge (where two sections will meet). Cool cookies on wire racks. Package airtight or freeze.

Stir together 2 cups unsifted powdered sugar with 1/4 water until smooth. You'll also need about 2 cups unsifted powdered sugar for snow.

Generously paint icing on foil-covered base and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Then follow steps 2 through 7 as shown.

1. Cabin pieces are cut from dough, using cardboard patterns; and numbers tell how many of each size to cut.
2. Paint icing where logs cross. Use 6-inch logs for back and sides; 2-inch for front. Let ends extend.
3. Set square spacer logs near inner end of each 2-inch log, forming doorway as you build up front.
4. Fourth layer of logs uses 6-inch-long pieces all around including over doorway.
5. Add fifth log to back; set three spacers across doorway, then add another 6-inch log across front.
6. Using spacers and 3 1/2 inch and 2-inch logs, build up gables on front and back of cabin.
7. Stack two spacers on front and back; add fifth log to each side. Ice and sugar roof; ice top logs. Set roof in place, trimmed edges together.

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