Springer insists she'll keep busy, making pastries and the occasional wedding cake for friends. But this year may be her last gingerbread tea.

Fortunately for her — and for her many students — the memories will last.

"I think," she says, "children take away memories for life."

For more information about Maria Springer and her gingerbread house classes, visit majaskitchen.com.

Recipe: Lebkuchen (German Gingerbread) and Royal Icing

In her class, Maria Springer uses store-bought graham crackers for the gingerbread houses. However, for parents who want to make their own gingerbread — either for houses or gingerbread men — she recommends this, her mother's recipe for lebkuchen, the German form of gingerbread.

Once cooked, the gingerbread is very hard, she warns, "so it doesn't break when you cut out the gingerbread men and women. So you shouldn't expect a soft gingerbread, like in the United States."

For the gingerbread:

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups honey

2/3 cup water

2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger

7 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon ground cloves

Heat the butter, honey, water and ginger in a saucepan, until very hot but not boiling. Just before the mixture is about to boil, remove the pot from the heat and let steep for ten to fifteen minutes.

Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda and spices in a large bowl. Pour the water, honey, butter and ginger mixture through a strainer, discarding the solids. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients Mix well with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Transfer the dough to a smaller bowl and cool in the refrigerator for about two hours. Before rolling the dough, bring it to room temperature. The consistency is hard, like play-dough.