For December's Daring Bakers' challenge we were asked to bake and decorate a gingerbread house. Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi gave us two recipes for gingerbread. Anna provided a recipe from Good Housekeeping magazine and Y's was from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas. I decided to make a half portion of Y's recipe. I didn't use the spices that the recipe called for since we did not plan to eat the gingerbread. I didn't want to waste any spices since they are expensive. But I did add just a bit of ground ginger and cinnamon to give a nice spicy holiday scent. The other requirement was that our entire house must edible. Nothing like cardboard or glue to help support the house was allowed.
This was definitely more like a construction and decorating challenge than a baking challenge. The dough came together easily and rolled nicely. I created a template for my roof and walls using a file folder and then cut out the pieces from the rolled dough before baking.
I made one large house and one tiny house. I cut simple triangles for my trees using the leftover dough.
Royal icing made with meringue powder was my glue and assorted candies were my decoration. A bed of finely shredded desiccated coconut provided the snowy landscape. I was amazed that the pieces of my house actually fit together since I'm not known for my assembly skills and I was equally amazed that the royal icing glue held it all together without drooping or sliding.
This was my first ever gingerbread house. Overall it was a fun challenge which brought out the child in me. :) Happy holidays to you and your family! See you in 2010.
Gromit's view from the sky
A perfect landing
The fine print:
The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.
Scandinavian Gingerbread (Pepparkakstuga)
(from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas)
1 cup butter, room temperature [226g]
1 cup brown sugar, well packed [220g]
2 tablespoons cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ cup boiling water
5 cups all-purpose flour [875g]
1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until blended. Add the cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Mix the baking soda with the boiling water and add to the dough along with the flour. Mix to make a stiff dough. If necessary add more water, a tablespoon at a time. Chill 2 hours or overnight.
2. Cut patterns for the house out of cardboard.
3. Roll the dough out on a large, ungreased baking sheet and place the patterns on the dough. Mark off the various pieces with a knife, but leave the pieces in place.
4. [Y rolled out the dough on a floured bench, roughly 1/8 inch thick (which allows for fact that the dough puffs a little when baked), cut required shapes and transferred them to the baking sheet. Any scraps were saved and rerolled at the end.]
5. Preheat the oven to 375'F (190'C). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the cookie dough feels firm. After baking, again place the pattern on top of the gingerbread and trim the shapes, cutting the edges with a straight-edged knife. Leave to cool on the baking sheet.
1 large egg white
3 cups (330g) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon almond extract
Beat all ingredients until smooth, adding the powdered sugar gradually to get the desired consistency. Pipe on pieces and allow to dry before assembling. If you aren't using it all at once you can keep it in a small bowl, loosely covered with a damp towel for a few hours until ready to use. You may have to beat it slightly to get it an even consistency if the top sets up a bit. Piped on the house, this will set up hard over time.