I had originally planned to print out a gingerbread house template online, but Alex asked if he could design it by hand. Who am I to say no? My guy had a blast measuring and cutting all the pieces, for both the house and my extra gingerbread structure. He did a great job! I used the recipe that Y selected (see below) and transported the pieces to my in-laws so that my mother and sister-in-law could help me decorate.
We had a few gingerbread casualties on the drive over and I began to lose heart. However, my mother-in-law is an architect (and professor of architechture), and it turns out that one of her end-of-term projects was to have her students build gingerbread houses from scratch. Did I pick the right partner or what? She had all sorts of tricks and tips for emergency repairs and structural support.
Broken pieces salvaged with royal icing "glue" and a cookie "support beam"
In-process structure supported by cans of beans. With cookie support in the background.
The house, before the decorating team arrived
When the challenge was first announced, I knew that I wanted to try to make something different. I always associated gingerbread houses with Christmas, so there really wasn't any reason for me to make one, but I did, to honor the Daring Bakers rules. However, I decided to also make a gingerbread dreidel just because it would be awesome. And it totally is.
I had a little driedel
I made it out of gingerbread
And when it's dry and ready,
I'll post it on the interweb...
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. Cut out the pieces with a knife, but leave the pieces in place.
4. From Y's notes: [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.
3 TBS Meringue powder
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
5-6 TBS warm water
Combine all ingredients and using either a stand or hand mixer, beat on high until stiff peaks form, about 6-8 minutes.