By Jan Brett
A delicious twist on a classic favorite, Gingerbread Baby is a story within a story about a fun-filled romp through a tiny Swiss village and into the forest. Matti makes the mistake of peeking into the oven just a bit too soon as Gingerbread Baby is baking and our mischievous little cookie takes advantage of the open oven door to make a quick escape.
A varied cast of characters joins in the chase to catch the puckish little treat, but it is Matti who stays home and bakes up a sweet plan in the borders on each page that entices Gingerbread Baby back home.
Jan Brett’s beautifully detailed paintings and a fun lift-the-flap feature bring the story to life so much that you will practically smell the gingerbread baking. Each page is so richly illustrated that readers will find themselves discovering something new and wonderful each time the book is opened. This is certain to become a must read holiday classic!
In this Issue
We do enjoy a good paper bag activity, and felt it would be the perfect paper to use to create a Gingerbread Baby for your house. Our first plan included stapling, then stuffing, then lacing,…and then we stopped. We feel it is so much more fun for young readers (and less stressful for their parents!) if they can be involved from the very beginning or any project. The focus should be the fun and the process, not the perfect finished project. So, we thought it through a bit more and changed our plan. We hope it inspires you to fill your house with creative, one of a kind Gingerbread Babies.
Why we enjoy this activity:
- Using the paper grocery bag is a fun way to create art and recycle at the same time.
- It’s fun to watch the creativity flow as kids enjoy the decorating process.
- Who doesn’t love a giant cookie? (Even if it is paper!)
Brown Paper Gingerbread Baby Collage
What You Will Need
- Brown Paper Bag (or a roll of butcher paper, or a large sheet of brown construction paper)
- Decorating items – buttons, feathers, beads, fabric scraps, pom poms, stickers, etc.
How We Made It
- If using a bag: Cut one large side from a brown paper grocery bag.
- Using a pencil, draw a large basic gingerbread man cookie shape on the paper.
- Trace the pencil drawing with marker to make it easier for young readers to see and cut out. Tracing is great for fine motor skills if your young reader’s skills are at that level.
- Have (or help) young readers cut out the cookie shape. This is more great practice for fine motor skills.
Related Activities: With the Cake Top Collage, young pastry chefs can scour your shelves of art supplies and find just the right ingredients to decorate a “cake” that will never go stale.
Farmer's Tree, inspired by Eric Carle's Christmas classic Dream Snow.
Sure, you could make any regular gingerbread cookie, soft and round or crispy and gingerbread man-shaped, to celebrate Gingerbread Baby, but why not try something completely new? Like a sweet, grilled gingerbread sandwich, filled with peanut butter and peach jam? Sounds good, right?
We started with a basic gingerbread loaf. You could use any recipe for gingerbread loaf that you like; even a mix would work. After chilling the bread to firm up a bit, slice and spread with peanut butter and peach jam, then grill until filling is melty.
- 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 2 large eggs
- Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9x5 inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and cloves.
- In a separate medium bowl, stir together buttermilk and vanilla until combined.
- Place butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add molasses and combine. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined.
- Scrape down sides of bowl. Add 1/3 of flour mixture and beat until just combined. Add half of buttermilk and beat until combined. Repeat with remaining flour and butter milk, ending with the third flour addition.
- Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes, until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean and cake is pulling away from sides of pan. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.
Grilled Gingerbread Sandwiches
Makes 1 sandwich.
- 2 1/2-inch slices gingerbread
- peanut butter
- peach jam
- butter or margarine
- Spread both slices of gingerbread with desired about of peanut butter. Spread one slice with peach jam. Sandwich two pieces together.
- Spread outside of sandwiches with butter or margarine.
- Spray covered skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Heat over medium low until cooking surface is warm. Turn heat down to low. Cook sandwich, flipping halfway through, until both sides are golden brown and filling is gooey and melty.
- Serve with a cold glass of milk, or a hot mug of cocoa!
Related Recipe: Olivia's Christmas Night Tomato Soup
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