Monday, December 28, 2009

December Daring Baker Challenge: Gingerbread House

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.
I was excited and a bit intimidated by this month's challenge. I've never made a gingerbread house and wasn't too sure that I could build on that would actually stay together. Anna's step-by-step instructions made putting the house together a little less scary. I used Anna's recipe for the gingerbread and Royal icing to "glue" my house together. I couldn't believe but the walls actually stayed together AND held the roof up! Cool. Maybe I missed my calling and should go into architecture...okay maybe not...

Anna's Recipe:
Spicy Gingerbread Dough (from Good Housekeeping)
2 1/2 cups (500g) packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups (360mL) heavy cream or whipping cream
1 1/4 cups (425g) molasses
9 1/2 cups (1663g) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon(s) baking soda
1 tablespoon(s) ground ginger

1. In very large bowl, with wire whisk (or with an electric mixer), beat brown sugar, cream, and molasses until sugar lumps dissolve and mixture is smooth. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and ginger. With spoon, stir flour mixture into cream mixture in 3 additions until dough is too stiff to stir, then knead with hands until flour is incorporated and dough is smooth. 2. Divide dough into 4 equal portions; flatten each into a disk to speed chilling. Wrap each disk well with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until dough is firm enough to roll.
3. Grease and flour large cookie sheets (17-inch by 14-inch/43x36cm)
4. Roll out dough, 1 disk at a time on each cookie sheet to about 3/16-inch thickness. (Placing 3/16-inch dowels or rulers on either side of dough to use as a guide will help roll dough to uniform thickness.)

5. Trim excess dough from cookie sheet; wrap and reserve in refrigerator. Chill rolled dough on cookie sheet in refrigerator or freezer at least 10 minutes or until firm enough to cut easily.
6. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (149C)
7. Use chilled rolled dough, floured poster board patterns, and sharp paring knife to cut all house pieces on cookie sheet, making sure to leave at least 1 1/4 inches between pieces because dough will expand slightly during baking. Wrap and reserve trimmings in refrigerator. Combine and use trimmings as necessary to complete house and other decorative pieces. Cut and bake large pieces and small pieces separately.

8. Chill for 10 minutes before baking if the dough seems really soft after you cut it. This will discourage too much spreading/warping of the shapes you cut.
9. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until pieces are firm to the touch. Do not overbake; pieces will be too crisp to trim to proper size.

Equipment Needed:
Stand or handheld electric mixer (not required but it will make mixing the dough a lot easier and faster)
Plastic wrap
Rolling pin
Parchment paper
Baking sheets
Cardboard cake board or sheet of thick cardboard
Foil, if desired
Small saucepan
Small pastry brush (optional)
Piping bag with small round tip, or paper cornets if you're comfortable with them

Royal Icing:
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.

We were free to decorate our houses any way we chose. I added some sugar windows and a cute little snowman made from fondant.


Thanks Anna and Y for a great challenge!!


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That is one pretty house! I love the decorations and stained glass windows!

Best wishes for 2010!



Y said...

Love your house!! That snowman is just the cutest thing ever too :)

Lori Lynn said...

Your gingerbread house is just darling!

Bellini Valli said...

I love seeing all of the individual gingerbread homes from all the DB's. A great challenge and good job!!

Chele said...

What a wonderful gingerbread house. I love how every time I see somebody's creation it is totally different from anything I've seen before. Love the wee snowman - so cute!

Grace said...

excellent house! my favorite aspect is the icicles--so clever! and of course, the snowman is adorable. :)

LittleRed said...

Beautiful! I hope you enjoyed eating it too:)

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

It looks beautiful! I love the snowmen! Happy New Year!

AMInyc said...

Great Gingerbread House!

linda said...

Lovely house! Love the windows and the cute little snowman!