Happy Monday, chitlins! I hope everyone had a wonderful and cheery weekend. We had Thanksgiving part deux at a friend’s house and I was asked to bring a dessert (as usual). I decided that because it was post-Thanksgiving pumpkin would have been silly, also I don’t like it. And because I’m officially in Christmas-mode I decided gingerbread was in order.
This cake is fantastic. It’s straight from Sally’s Baking Addiction and received rave reviews from everyone who tasted it. I even had some for breakfast Sunday morning. And for snackies Sunday afternoon. And I will likely have some for elevensies today. If I play my cards right.
As far as the decoration, I knew there would be children at the party so I wanted to make something whimsical. Because I did not have the time to make my own gingerbread cookies, I decided to fake it with graham crackers. Just like in elementary school with the milk cartons, except I kept mine hollow and entirely edible.
Prep the house the night before, so that the royal icing has plenty of time to dry and harden without collapsing. Decorate with any candy you have on hand (leftover Halloween candy? No judgment here), or make a special trip to the bulk candy aisle to mix and match. This is especially fun with kids, obviously. I brought the extra candy with me to the party and the littlest boy added extra to the cake.
If you want to try and contain your messes with children I recommend placing all the candies in small bowls on a baking sheet and the house you’re decorating on another separate baking sheet, with edges, and it will make cleaning up much easier. I mean, even if you don’t have kids it’s not a bad idea. Trying to corral tiny sprinkles and flecks of candy ain’t an easy task no matter what your age.
- 2½ cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp dried ginger
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp cloves
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon molasses
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 tbsp meringue powder
- 4 tbsp cold water
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp clear vanilla
- 1 cup grated apple
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened
- 4 oz butter, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla
- pinch of salt
- splash of milk
- Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 9x13 inch pan.
- In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients except brown sugar, and set aside.
- In a separate large mixing bowl whisk together the wet ingredients, including sugar until uniform.
- Slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry and mix just until no streaks remain.
- Pour into the prepare pan and bake for 45 - 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes clean and the surface springs back.
- Cream together the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.
- Add the vanilla and with the mixer on low, slowly beat in the powdered sugar until frosting is creamy. If it's too thick to spread thin with a little milk.
- Spread on a fully cooled cake.
- Beat the meringue powder and cold water until stiff peaks form.
- Add the vanilla and gradually sift in the powdered sugar and beat until the frosting is stiff enough to pipe. If it is too thick, thin with a sprinkle of water until it's the proper consistency.
- Cut three large sheets of graham crackers in half width-wise. Using a fourth graham cracker sheet, cut a triangle from the shortest side.
- Using the royal icing glue the triangle to one of the sheet halves, matching up the width. Do the same with another triangle and sheet, making the front and back of the house. Let dry for at least an hour.
- When the front and back have dried, take two more graham cracker sheet halves and turn them so they are on their longest edge. Using more royal icing glue the short edge to the taller edge of the front piece. Do the same with the other half and back piece. Then position the two halves to form a full house (without a roof). There will be a height difference, this will allow for the roof to fit more snugly.
- Let the body of the house dry for at least three hours. Then glue the roof on. Let the whoel house dry overnight before decorating.
- To keep the royal icing for use the next day, cover with a damp paper towel and plastic wrap. Give it a stir before using.
- Cake will keep in the fridge for up to five days.