What more festive thing to make during the holidays than a gingerbread “something.” Some people make gingerbread houses, others make gingerbread men, but in my family growing up, my mother always slaved over gingerbread sleds – making the dough, rolling it out, tediously cutting around the paper patterns, assembling the sleds, etc, so that we children could excitedly decorate them, fill them with goodies and take them to neighbors and friends.
And don’t forget the part about eating our fill of candy while decorating. After attempting to make these the first year of my marriage, I completely nixed the tradition and called my mom to tell her how much I appreciated her toiling over these sleds year after year. It was hard work! However, at the encouragement of my husband, I have again adopted this holiday tradition since our children are old enough to have fun with it.
It is well worth the effort, even though you will usually find me complaining while rolling out and cutting the dough. This year, I did some research and found a company that makes a kit for you to make your own cookie cutters and did just that, made my own gingerbread sled cookie cutters.
It completely revolutionized the process. For those who don’t want to do that, I have included the age-old patterns my mom used for years to cut around with a sharp knife (enlarge the image to 8 1/2 X 11 and you’ll have the correct pattern dimensions). Enjoy!
CLICK HERE FOR A PDF OF THE CUT-YOURSELF GINGERBREAD SLED PATTERN.
Yield 6 Sleds
- 7 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon cloves
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1/3 cup shortening
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 ½ cup dark molasses
- 2/3 cup cold water
- 3 egg whites at room temperature
- 1 pound powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Stir together dry ingredients and set aside.
- In a large bowl, use mixer to beat shortening, brown sugar and molasses until well combined. Stir in water.
- Beat in flour mixture gradually. When dough becomes stiff, work in remaining flour mixture with wooden spoon, mixing well.
- Wrap and chill dough several hours.
- Divide dough in thirds. Roll out on floured surface to 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick. Place patter on dough and carefully cut out with small pointed knife. Reverse pattern for cutting 2nd side of the sleigh.
- Place pieces on greased and floured cookie sheets and bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
- Cool on cooling rack and let stand several hours to dry out (I usually make them a few days before I am going to put them together so they are dry and don’t bend and break). **Rolling the dough about 1/8-inch thick, I can make around 8 sleds per batch of dough.
- For the icing, beat 8-10 minutes or until medium peaks form. Keep bowl covered with a damp towel so that the icing does not get hard.
- Assemble the sleighs the night before decorated (if you can't do the night before, at least allow 5-6 hours for sleds to dry). Store extra frosting in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic wrap.