Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Gingerbread House...Just for Christmas!

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 love this time of the month, because it's Daring Bakers time!! I was super excited when I found out our challenge this month...baking a gingerbread house...from scratch! I was especially excited to get to work, because I had to miss last month's challenge. We were given 2 recipes to select from. I chose the recipe from Good Housekeeping magazine. It sounded pretty traditional and none of the ingredients were too exotic...most of them were already sitting in my pantry and fridge.

I really didn't have any major problems with the dough. My only obstacle was the fact that the dough needed a few extra tablespoons of cream in order to help it come together and be workable. Otherwise, it would have been WAY too hard. I also found that the quantity of confectioner's sugar in the royal icing recipe (3 cups) was WAY too much. About 2 cups would be more like it. I actually had to add a few tablespoons of warm water to the icing to get it back to the correct consistency. If you use this recipe, just start with 2 cups and go from there. It ended up working perfectly.

I had so much fun making this house. Before this challenge, I had never built a gingerbread house before. Right out of the oven, the dough is very easy to trim to get straight lines and correct sizes (if needed). Just be sure not to let it cool down too will crack and break when you try to trim it. I used THIS pattern from Wilton for my house. I simply taped the pattern pieces to cardboard and then cut it out using the guidelines. I used a pizza cutter to cut through the dough to make the shapes before baking...It worked like a charm. You'll find that this gingerbread is made to be sturdy...not delicious. So, if your gingerbread comes out not tasting that great, don't worry. All that matters is that it's sturdy enough to build your house!

Who knows...building gingerbread houses just might become a Christmas tradition around our house each year!


Spicy Gingerbread Dough
Source: Good Housekeeping
2 1/2 cups (500g) packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups (360mL) heavy cream or whipping cream (I had to add a few extra tablespoons of cream in order to get the dough to come together and be workable).
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.
10. Remove cookie sheet from oven. While house pieces are still warm, place poster-board patterns on top and use them as guides to trim shapes to match if necessary. Cool pieces completely before attempting to assemble the house.

Royal Icing:
1 large egg white
3 cups (330g) powdered sugar (I found 3 cups to be too much. You may want to start with 2 cups)
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: (I did not use the simple syrup...I only used the royal icing to assemble my house)
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.


Memória said...

Woah! Did they move the deadline up to post our challenges? I thought it was on the 27th!

Hmm, well, anyway, your house looks perfect. I still don't know if I'm going to do this challenge. I would rather much more enjoy looking at other people's houses than making my own. I'm not just a creative person.

Little Miss Cupcake said...

Your house is so colorful and lovely! You did an amazing job! It was my first time making a gingerbread house too and I hope to make it a yearly tradition. Happy Holidays!

Snooky doodle said...

How nice! Wish to make one too I ve never made one. Happy Christmas !

Catherine said...

This looks wonderful! A perfect holidays treat! Happy Holidays & Happy New Year! :)

Anonymous said...

So cute!! I love what you did with the roof!

tonic said...

Your gingerbread house is beautiful! I especially love the roof detail!

Cirri said...

Beautiful house I love the colors in it.
Merry christmas!

Deeba PAB said...

Gorgeous... I love your house! You did beautifully on the challenge! I had a great time too! Happy holidays!

Lauren said...

Definitely agree about the royal icing - I ended up adding another egg white! Your house is gorgeous, and I love your photography =D.

Jeanne said...

So colorful, and beatiful details! I love the icicles along the eaves!

DeliciouslyDomestic said...

I love it! It's your archtypical gingerbread house.

Anonymous said...

your house looks so festive, i love it!

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

I'm ready to move right in... and I'm bringing all my friends for Christmas dinner.

Karen @ Citrus and Candy said...

Your house has to be one of my favourites. It's so colourful and I just wanna keep staring at it! Beautiful photos!

Pontch said...

Amazing !!!
this is the cutest gingerbread house ever !!
i love the colors so much.

Great Job!
Happy Holidays

Jill said...

I love all the bright candies you used on your house! That window ledge out of the peppermint candy is so cute!! Well done!!
Merry Christmas! :)

Tia said...

it looks abcolutely perfect!

Gala said...

It looks so pretty!

Sheltie Girl said...

Fabulous job! Your house turned out beautifully.

Merry Christmas!

Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

Amy @ Simply Sugar & Gluten Free said...

I love your house! The proportions are perfect and the piping on the roof just feels happy. :) Great job!

Anna said...

I can't get over how colorful and delicious your house looks! I really love your little peppermint windowsills.

shaz said...

Wow! Such a colourful, festive and fun house! Happy holidays :)

Coconut and Vanilla said...

I've seen your gingerbread house already in the baker's forum. I love it! It just fits with the colours. And very nice pictures!

silverrock said...

Oh, wow... I'm speechless. Your gingerbread house is picture perfect and should be in a cookbook somewhere! Can't wait to see what you bake up in the New Year!

kristenly said...

i love the colors you chose to decorate with. fabulous house. well done!

Anzj said...

Such a colorful little house. Well done.

Wic said...

I love your house. no really and I am not alone. my twins adore it and pointed at it again and again saying it would look. delicious.
and let me tell you my boys know what tastes good.
adore the colors, the details, love it.

Laura said...

Your house is beautiful and your images stunning!

MandyM said...

Such a beautiful gingerbread house. So neat and fantastically colourful. Wonderful baking & photos, as always.
All the best for 2010!

Half Baked said...

Beautiful job on your gingerbread house!

• friX • said...

How cute ! And it just looks delicious :-)

Maryanna said...

I love your house. You did such a beautiful job!

Lisa said...

Celeste, one of the most colorful and lovely GB houses in this challenge! SO SO well done and clean! I got royal icing all over mine..LOL Happy New Year!!

Namratha said...

Your house is perfect...loved all the candy you've used and the colors are fantastic!

Jenny Tan said...

Such a cute and fun looking gingerbread house! Happy 2010!