6th Day of Christmas: Deck the halls with Gingerbread Houses


Harkening all the way back to the 11th Day of Christmas… as Maria noted, “’Tis the season for new traditions,” and I must second that. After all, a tradition had to start at sometime, right?

Aside from the many existing holiday traditions my family has, this year, I’ve had the pleasure of participating in the start of new traditions with my boyfriend Jordan’s family. Along with Jordan’s parents, his older brother and his wife, and his younger brother, we decided to take an afternoon to make gingerbread houses together. Last weekend for an entire afternoon, all seven of us sipped hot cocoa around the dining room table and cut, iced, designed, built and decorated four gingerbread houses. After hours of teamwork, eating about a pound or so of gumdrops and a gallon of icing, we had edible creations that will serve as homemade decorations for the rest of the season. (And yes, my gingerbread house does have a cat door!)


With my family, my favorite holiday tradition takes place on Christmas morning. My grandma always baked prune rolls in the shape of giant candy canes, drizzled with icing and topped with maraschino cherries. They filled the whole house with a wonderful yeasty, fresh-baked smell. Perfect for Christmas morning with a big cup of coffee!

Here is a similar recipe from Betty Crocker, with dried apricots and maraschino cherries as the filling, rather than the dried plums and chopped nuts my grandma used.

Candy Cane Coffee Cake (from Betty Crocker’s Best Christmas Cookbook)

Prep Time: 30 min
Start to Finish: 1 hr 50 min
Makes: 3 coffee cakes (12 slices each)

2 packages regular or quick active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
5 1/2 to 6 cups Gold Medal® Better for Bread™ flour or Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups chopped dried apricots
1 1/2 cups chopped drained maraschino cherries
Coffee Cake Glaze
1 1/2 cups red cinnamon candies, if desired

Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl. Add buttermilk, sugar, butter, eggs, baking powder, salt and 2 1/2 cups of the flour. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle. (Dough should be soft and slightly sticky.)

Grease 3 cookie sheets. Turn dough onto well-floured surface; gently knead about 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Divide dough into 3 equal parts. Roll one part into rectangle, 15×9 inches. Place rectangle on cookie sheet.

Mix apricots and chopped cherries. Spread one-third of the apricot mixture in a strip about 2 1/2 inches wide lengthwise down center of rectangle. Make cuts in dough at 1/2-inch intervals on both 15-inch sides almost to filling. Fold strips over filling, overlapping and crossing in center. Carefully stretch dough until 22 inches long; curve one end to form top of cane. Repeat with remaining 2 parts of dough. Cover and let rise in warm place about 1 hour or until double. (Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.)

Heat oven to 375°F. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Drizzle Glaze over warm coffee cakes. Decorate with cinnamon candies.

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3 Comments so far ↓

  • Christine | Dec 20, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    LOVE the cat door.

  • Garrett | Dec 21, 2007 at 9:35 am

    *shudder* I have memories of when I made a gingerbread manger scene. Never. EVER. AGAIN.

    That thing gave me so much stress, I was so happy to bite the frosted head off of baby Jesus.

  • John Kirkwood | Dec 21, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    Apricots are nice, but prunes are just more comfortable. Jenna: I hope you are planning to make the candy canes for Christmas this year again to complete the tradition!!