, Newburyport, MA


December 18, 2013

Building a tradition

Port woman helps spread joy with gingerbread houses


“I’m just doing small parties, 20-30 at the most,” she said.

Earlier this month, she led a session at The Salvation Army, where she is a board member. She likes to meet with the nonprofit’s groups from time to time, and she thought it would be a great activity for several women who get together on Wednesday mornings to do crafts.

“I think they really enjoyed it, I think it was fun,” she said. “Now, they’re going to use them as the centerpieces for the dinners they have at The Salvation Army throughout December.”

Lanphear said she is particularly fond of making gingerbread houses because it is an activity that everyone can participate in, from preschoolers to senior citizens. And she is always picking up new decorating tricks just from watching others experiment with all kinds of candy and other edible accessories.

“It is amazing, every year I learn something,” she said. “Every year, someone else comes up with something new. I’ve seen so many people do it over the years, I’ve learned all their secrets.”

Gingerbread dough

Makes 3 14-by-11-inch rectangles

5 cups unsifted all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup vegetable shortening or margarine

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup light molasses

1 large egg

On waxed paper, combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt.

In large bowl, with electric mixer, beat shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses and egg. Stir in flour mixture to make a stiff dough.

Divide dough into thirds; wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 3 days before using.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cover 2 or 3 large baking sheets with aluminum foil or baking parchment paper.

On prepared sheet, roll out cookie dough, one-third at a time, to a 14-by-11-inch rectangle, about one-eighth-inch-thick. Using patterns as a guide, cut out as many pieces as possible, leaving a half-inch between pieces. Lift off dough trimmings and reserve to roll out later.

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