Sunday, December 27, 2009

Gingerbread Houses

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 once attempted homemade gingerbread houses, about 5 years ago. It was a horrible failure and I haven't thought of it since then. But with young boys, it sounded like a great holiday bonding activity, so I shored myself up and determined to try. (PS- I missed last month's challenge due to procrastination and travel. I will be posting an attempt, albeit very late, watch for it!)

I chose to make the Good Housekeeping recipe, since I love molasses and had it and whipping cream on hand. It made a delicious dough! I used a template I found online for the house pattern, it can be found here. I tried to make the simple caramel syrup for wall glue and failed. It just crystallized as the water evaporated. Oops. Well, luckily the royal icing worked wonderfully on my house!The roof stayed up!

However, I also thought I'd make multiple houses since there was a terrific amount of dough left over. I thought I'd just shave an inch of each side of the template and have a smaller house. It worked wonderfully until construction time. The roofs would not stay on, I finally determined my roof lines were just way to steep and repair attempts failed. Oh well. Lesson learned.
The roof stayed on this little house for about 5 minutes than slid off and couldn't be repaired.

We did have a lot of fun building these gingerbread houses, though it is quite time consuming! A full day was spent on it! Good memories and tasty gingerbread made for a good reward.

Spicy Gingerbread Dough (from Good Housekeeping)

2 1/2 cups (500g) packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups (360mL) heavy cream or whipping cream
1 1/4 cups (425g) molasses
9 1/2 cups (1663g) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon(s) baking soda
1 tablespoon(s) ground ginger


1. In very large bowl, with wire whisk (or with an electric mixer), beat brown sugar, cream, and molasses until sugar lumps dissolve and mixture is smooth. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and ginger. With spoon, stir flour mixture into cream mixture in 3 additions until dough is too stiff to stir, then knead with hands until flour is incorporated and dough is smooth.

2. Divide dough into 4 equal portions; flatten each into a disk to speed chilling. Wrap each disk well with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until dough is firm enough to roll.

3. Grease and flour large cookie sheets (17-inch by 14-inch/43x36cm)

4. Roll out dough, 1 disk at a time on each cookie sheet to about 3/16-inch thickness. (Placing 3/16-inch dowels or rulers on either side of dough to use as a guide will help roll dough to uniform thickness.)

5. Trim excess dough from cookie sheet; wrap and reserve in refrigerator. Chill rolled dough on cookie sheet in refrigerator or freezer at least 10 minutes or until firm enough to cut easily.

6. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (149C)

7. Use chilled rolled dough, floured poster board patterns, and sharp paring knife to cut all house pieces on cookie sheet, making sure to leave at least 1 1/4 inches between pieces because dough will expand slightly during baking. Wrap and reserve trimmings in refrigerator. Combine and use trimmings as necessary to complete house and other decorative pieces. Cut and bake large pieces and small pieces separately.

8. Chill for 10 minutes before baking if the dough seems really soft after you cut it. This will discourage too much spreading/warping of the shapes you cut.

9. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until pieces are firm to the touch. Do not overbake; pieces will be too crisp to trim to proper size.

10. Remove cookie sheet from oven. While house pieces are still warm, place poster-board patterns on top and use them as guides to trim shapes to match if necessary. Cool pieces completely before attempting to assemble the house.


Wic said...

love the pictures and love that you had so much fun. I am a big believer in pinning the roof with toothpicks until the icing is hard.

Anna said...

Aw your house was very cute! I love that this was a challenge that whole families could get in on. :)


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