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 wasn't able to participate in November's challenge due to the birth of my little one, and almost let this one pass me by but I was able to find some time at the last minute today to get this gingerbread house completed. As Katrina of Baking and Boys! commented on my previous post, everyone says you have to "sleep when baby sleeps," but when you're a Daring Baker you have to "bake when baby sleeps" instead ;)
The gingerbread was simple enough to make - just a few minutes to prep and then two hours to chill in the refrigerator. A few bakers noted that their dough was too dry, but I had no such issues with mine. The more time consuming aspect was (obviously) the assembly and decoration of the gingerbread house. I wish I could have made mine more elaborate, but with only short spurts of time available to me today, I had to go simple. I made a half recipe of gingerbread and a full recipe of royal icing and that seemed to be just right for my little house.
Thanks Anna and Y, for hosting this month's challenge. It was fun making my very first gingerbread house. Make sure you check out the Daring Bakers' Blogroll to see all the other wonderful creations.
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. (*Make sure you don't overmix the dough initially as you'll over develop the gluten and make your dough tough and shrinky.) 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.
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 (I used about 2.5 cups of powdered sugar). 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.