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 waited eagerly through my "probation" period with the Daring Bakers counting down the days until my first challenge would be posted! When it was announced that this month's challenge was going to be Gingerbread Houses - I was both excited and terrified all at once. I am a complete klutz and anything pretty and fiddly is generally beyond my capabilities. BUT, isn't this what I signed up for? To be challenged? To be dared? To try something new. So with equal mixtures of hope (that I wouldn't screw it up) and trepidation (that I most probably would!) - I began measuring 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]
1. In a mixer, 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. Wrap in Gladwrap / Cling Film and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
2. Cut patterns for the house, making patterns for the roof, front walls, gabled walls and door out of cardboard. I cheated and used a Kleenex Tissue box as my template. *grins*
3. Roll the dough out on a floured surface and place the patterns on the dough.
Cut out the pieces with a knife, but leave the pieces in place.
Cut out the doorway, windows and any other pieces you have in mind (I completely forgot this stage... *oops*)
4. Transfer all your pieces onto greaseproof paper.
5. Preheat the oven to 375′F (190′C). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the cookie dough feels firm.
6. 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 paper.
1 large egg white
220g powdered sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Beat egg white until frothy, 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
You may need some props to hold up your walls etc while waiting for the walls to harden.As per the rules - you can only use edible ingredients as props. I used:
My Gingerbread House was more like the Ginger House of Pain. My dough kept shrinking while I was cutting the template - some of my dough rose more than others and some didn't rise at all... god only knows what I did wrong because I only made one batch! *laughs*
I made some stars with my left over dough just in case there were "issues" and even they rose to the size of scones... *rolls eyes*
In the end - it is not pretty (the family consensus is that it looks like a barn), it is not a masterpiece and it is not something I would take out in public. But it WAS edible, was tasty and was a hell of a lot of fun.
Would I make it again: Probably not... at least not until I have kids - and maybe even then I might stick to the Gingerbread Men... :)
Thank you very much to the Daring Bakers for an incredible December Challenge - and special thanks to Potager's Kitchen for her kind words of support during my mini meltdown!
If you think this looks like fun (which it is!!) - maybe you should consider joining the Daring Bakers?