Thursday, December 24, 2009

Daring Bakers: Gingerbread Houses!

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.

So, this was quite a challenge, or so I thought. It ended up being much easier than I thought it would be. I used Y´s recipe, and the dough was simple to put together, although it took more water than the recipe called for to get it to stick together. When I tried to roll it out the next day, it simply would not budge. I had to let it sit for about thirty minutes before I could get it to roll, and even then it kept cracking. I finally got it to work, and I used a template I found here.

It baked up fine, although you could see the little white spots of butter. I don´t know if this is how it´s supposed to be or not. The gingerbread was very sturdy and didn´t threaten to break during construction. I used the royal icing recipe given both for decoration and to glue the house together, even though we were supposed to use a simple syrup to do it. It was easy to work with and dried quickly. The only problem we had when constructing the house was getting the roof to stay put, which we quickly discovered could be remedied by using a lot of icing and holding the gingerbread in place until it dried.

I had lots of dough left over, so I made this little tree using different-sized star cookie cutters. And you know what? The gingerbread didn´t taste bad at all.
All in all, this was a really fun Daring Bakers challenge, and I may even be making a gingerbread house every winter from now one. Although my decorating definitely could have been better, I liked how my house came out. If you want to make a gingerbread house for yourself, the recipe I used is below. Enjoy! And Merry Christmas!

Y's Recipe:
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, making patterns for the roof, front walls, gabled walls, chimney and door 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. [I 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 these to the baking sheet. Any scraps I 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.

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.

Simple Syrup:
2 cups (400g) sugar

Place in a small saucepan and heat until just boiling and the sugar dissolves. Dredge or brush the edges of the pieces to glue them together. If the syrup crystallizes, remake it.

1 comment:

TeaLady said...

Your house is cute.

Made the gingerbread, didn't make the house. Wish I had.