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.
When I took on the December challenge, I knew I wouldn’t be eating the final product. I mean really: rock-hard icing covered with cheap, gelatin-laden candies atop rigid, bland cookies? Not my idea of a delicious dessert. Having said that, it was mostly really fun to assemble the house and decorate it with our ridiculous candy artwork. But if Brian hadn’t been there with me, I might have given up. After sitting in the fridge for a day, the dough was rock hard and yet so dry that it was crumbling. Brian hammered it into submission, glued it together with some water, and rolled it out for me. In the meantime, I made a template based on this one.
The recipe was cheap to make, so I would consider making it again next year, but with more water! The recipe that was given for royal icing was suspicious to me. I made two batches: the first we used the posted icing recipe and used it for decorating, for the second I followed the Joy of Cooking and we used that one to glue the walls and roof.
Photos here are a combination of mine and Brian's, before and after.
Letting the icing dry before assembling the house.
The front of the house, decorated by me.
The back of the house...it's supposed to be Santa, and a little heart on the side of the house. Brian designed this half.
Here is the recipe that I used (from the Daring Baker's challenge)
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.