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.
MERRY CHRISTMAS, everyone! I was so excited when i found out that this months' challenge was to make gingerbread houses from scratch-- this meant that JLo and I still get to participate in some festive activities even though there's no pseudo-Christmas dinner for us this year (too busy with tests and preparing for vacations!). The good thing is, to accommodate for the holiday season, Daring Bakers' is letting us post our entries anytime between December 23rd - 27th instead of after Christmas. So here I am, typing out a scheduled post a week beforehand just for the sake of reminding myself that I did, in a way, do something on Christmas Eve this year (they don't celebrate Christmas in Egypt, unfortunately... and that's where i am right now!). So back to the gingerbread, when i first found out about the challenge, I knew immediately that JLo was going to be in charge of the decorating-- he is, after all, the one with the dextrous dentist hands. However, the decorating process just looked so fun that we both ended up fighting for the piping bag. While one person piped, the other would make bossy comments and suggestions that would aggravate the piper even more. And with so many ideas flying around, we just ended up piling everything we had on there and call it a house, LOL. The whole process was pretty fun and we had quite a good laugh out of our finished product. I showed JLo some of the super professional-looking gingerbread houses other Daring Bakers' have posted on the forum and he went, "... are you sure you still want to post ours up?... Please dont." Hahaha, it's okay, I give ourselves a big E for effort! So i guess the Christmas lesson learned this year was: Too many cooks spoil the soup! Next time each of us are getting our own houses to decorate :P
Y's Recipe: 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]
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until blended [picture 1].
- Add the cinnamon, ginger and cloves [picture 2].
- Mix the baking soda with the boiling water and add to the dough along with the flour [picture 3, 4].
- Mix to make a stiff dough. If necessary add more water, a tablespoon at a time. Chill 2 hours or overnight [picture 5, 6]. (TIP: doughs are prone to a little shrinkage. Make sure you don't overmix the dough initially as you'll overdevelop the gluten and make your dough tough and shrinky).
- Cut patterns for the house, making patterns for the roof, front walls, gabled walls, chimney and door out of cardboard (got my pattern from halloween.savvy-cafe.com) .
- 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 [picture 7].
- [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.]
- 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 [picture 8].
- 1 egg white
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Put the powdered sugar in a mixing bowl and beat in half of the egg white [picture 1]. Slowly add the remaining egg white while mixing, making sure the icing doesn't get too wet.
- If 1 egg white is not enough, add water a little bit at a time until your icing reaches a glue-like consistency [picture 2].
- 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.
But it's so ugly to the point that... it's actually kinda cute XD