Monday, 28 December 2009

Daring Bakers 21: Gingerbread House

I'm late..... again.... with my Daring Bakers post for this month, but I only just got it finished. This month the challenge was a Christmassy one in that we had to make a Gingerbread House!

I have to admit I had a few problems with this one. There were two different recipes to work from for this, I thought I'd save reading any further and just do the first one, but ended in disaster for me because the dough ended up way too dry and I still had more flour to add! I asked my fellow DBers for advice and was told to add a little milk or water until it comes together so I gave it a go but it just didn't want to mix, I ended up with firm clumps swimming in milk, so that was off to the bin. I read on and tried out the second recipe which worked much better this time, but did need extra water to bring it together too, but not much and I think it turned out well in the end.....

... I'm rather proud of my little piece of architecture, but to be honest not sure a Wicked Witch would feel safe living in it.

PS I halved this recipe to make a smaller house, I also only used half the dough on the house and made gingerbread "cookies" with the rest.

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. 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.

Simple Syrup: I skipped this part and glued it all together using the icing
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.

Royal Icing:

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. 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.

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.

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