December 26, 2009

December Daring Bakers: Home for the Holidays!


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 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



Decorators hard at work



Isn't it great?



Look at this detail! Ivy and french doors? I would love to live here...



It's a Jewish Gingerbread Hanukkah House! See the menorah in the window and the mezuzah on the door?


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...

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Scandinavian Gingerbread (Pepparkakstuga)
from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas


Ingredients:
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]


Instructions:
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.


Royal Icing

Ingredients:
3 TBS Meringue powder
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
5-6 TBS warm water


Instructions:
Combine all ingredients and using either a stand or hand mixer, beat on high until stiff peaks form, about 6-8 minutes.

13 comments:

Jill said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I love the dreidel--it turned out really great! Great shape on your house and I love the ivy details on the back! :)

Karen @ Citrus and Candy said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

You're right. Your driedel is totally awesome. Love it! :D

Ruth said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I loved your gingerbread dreidle and the house with the hannukiah menorah and the mezuzah.
Congrats!

Jo said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

This is an absolutely adorable gingerbread house. Love the colors and the ivy creeper as well. Happy holidays.

Y said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Aha, that's what was missing from my attempt - a team of architects! :D Great effort by the way. Love the little details on the house.. and dreidel!

Francijn Brouwer said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Ha, I like the jewish details, very well done!

Sue Sparks said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Great job on the challenge! Love the clinging vine and the driedel!

LtlLori said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Love the vines on the back of the house! And the gingerbread dreidel is absolutely fantastic!!

Lauren said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Your house is amazing, and I love the dreidel - its the perfect touch =D.

JLGB said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

You are friggin hilarious! I love the gingerbread - interweb rhyme. It made me laugh out loud.

Jacque said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I love how you made it a family project. It looks fantastic!

itpleasesus said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Very cool - love that you had the 'team of decorators' handy. The dreidel is very impressive as well, cannot believe you managed it!
Emily

Laura said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I love the dreidel! I also made a Jewish themed gingerbread house.