Sunday, December 27, 2009

DB: Gingerbread House

Would you believe that I started this gingerbread house two weeks ago, but only put it together last night and decorated it this morning? Well, you should.

I seriously waited two weeks between baking the pieces and putting them together. It really shouldn't have taken me that long, but I just hit a baking slump. Do you ever get those? Where something just goes terribly wrong in the kitchen, and you're afraid to go back for fear of more failure? Well, I do, and I did. But I think I'm alright now. I did some baking this weekend, and it went well. I think I'm back on the horse. How stinky that it happened after all the fun of Christmas baking. Way to go, brain.

Anywho, 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.

So, since I have not found molasses here, I went with the Scandinavian recipe since it didn't call for molasses, also, I'm partial to Scandinavian recipes since I'm half Swedish. You wouldn't really know by looking at me, but I'm Sveedish.

Back to the house, this was my first house I've made, gingerbread or otherwise (unless you count popsicles, I have made one of those I think), so I guess you could say I had a learning curve. I made up the template myself, but I forgot to scan it at work, so it'll go up tomorrow I promise.Okay, so it took a little longer. Here it is. I decided to go with a simple house but with a porch, since I really like porches and want one on my future dream house. Oh, this is supposed to be my dream house, at least that's what Jacob said I should do. So I tried, but this is so not what I want my dream house to look like. It needs to be at least three times this size (yeah, that's a Zoolander reference). And our exterminator bills would be astronomical. I had trouble enough keeping the ants off of this house for one night.

But anyway, I made the template, cut out the pieces, and to my surprise, they baked up pretty good. I didn't have trouble of shrinkage like other people, so I was glad. I did have some crinklage because I have less than Silipat mats. I didn't know it made a difference until I tried making things that need to be flat. I'm hoping I'll get some in the mail soon. Hint hint, family. But I think I was able to cover it up well enough with the royal icing.

So, at the beginning of this post, I mentioned that it took me two weeks to complete this house. And all that time, the pieces were sitting out on the counter. I thought it was all well and good, until I went to build the house to find out that some of my pieces had been eaten. Someone ate my door, but I think I worked well with a Kit Kat bar, but someone also ate some of my chimney, so no chimney for me. Sadness, but I guess that's what I get.

I had a little trouble with the roof. I put together the sides of the house no problem, but also not thinking about the length of my roof. I made it without any overhang which means, the walls could not go out any farther than the long wall, but I didn't do that. So I had a roof that made it almost all the way across, but not quite. I tried to cover it up with some scraps, but it looks a little dorky. I'll admit it.

But I've got to bring attention to this. This was Jacob's genius idea. They're flower pots! We made them out of bitten off cherry gummies and a partial cut blackberry gumdrop. I thought this was such a cute idea. I had to give him props (but not to his face...we wouldn't want a big-headed husband now would we?)

Oh, and in a moment of desperation or stupidity, I drew Jacob and me on the sides of the house. I had some space, I had to fill it.

So that's my escapade with the gingerbread house. It was fun once I actually got down to making it. And this recipe of gingerbread actually tasted pretty good, no cardboard taste here...unless you eat the cardboard, then you just can't get away from it.

So if you didn't make one this year, make plans for next year, or just make one now. It is only the third day of Christmas after all...

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.
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. 


Gala said...

I love the little flowers around the house!

Lauren said...

I love all of your details! The house is beautifully simple =D.

Tia said...

looks so wonderful! i love the shrubbery and the kitkat for a door. simple & chic.

Angry Asian said...

i love the roof/porch area, it's absolutely what makes the house for me. great job!

Christina and Jacob said...

Thanks for the compliments! The details were the most fun part. Can't wait to try again.

Anna said...

Your house is excellent! I love all the little details and the flowerpots are too cute! Great job on the challenge :)