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December 27, 2009 in daring bakers29 comments

daring bakers: gingerbread house

the only decent full view i shot - daring bakers dec 2009 gingerbread house

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.

This post dedicated to the memory of Aunt Alice, who made a gingerbread house and brought it to family Christmas (Mom’s side) every year. And every year the kids gleefully demolished it.

Lots of pics in this post. No progress pics. Too busy. Gingerbread recipe follows, as I misread and used a completely different one from the challenge recipes. Which worked out well, it turns out, since most Daring Bakers had trouble with the challenge recipes, but the one I used came out just right.

back view - daring bakers dec 2009 gingerbread house

I made the Dawson City house from The Gingerbread Architect: Recipes and Blueprints for Twelve Classic American Homes. I liked the style in the book: no-nonsense with authentic architectural details. As authentic as one can be using butterscotch candy windows and Rice Krispies treats trees, that is.

rice krispies treats tree decorated with hearts - daring bakers dec 2009 gingerbread house

Dawson City is a gold rush-era town in the Yukon. Though the plans called for a sparse landscape decorated with a pastillage Santa and sleigh pulled by penguins, I could not bear the inaccuracy of the fauna (penguins live in the southern hemisphere, not the northern hemisphere; that’s polar bears) and slapped some equally inaccurate pine trees down instead.

side view - daring bakers dec 2009 gingerbread house

Okay, I was just too lazy to sculpt in sugar clay. So sue me.

mmm, licorice chimney - daring bakers dec 2009 gingerbread house

Ooh, a licorice chimney. Of course, I used one piece out of a full bag. My brother-in-law got the remainder. Merry Christmas, Dale!

walkway - daring bakers dec 2009 gingerbread house

The walkway, made of milk chocolate rocks. Easily the yummiest part of the house.

another side view - daring bakers dec 2009 gingerbread house

The other side of the house. Actually, the gingerbread and even the royal icing were pretty good-tasting.

filling the gaps - daring bakers dec 2009 gingerbread house

I didn’t trim pieces to be even when they came out of the oven as the book recommended, which resulted in some gaps, most noticeably where the roof met the walls. No problem. Just squirt a whole mess of royal icing in there.

a top view - daring bakers dec 2009 gingerbread house

A top view. Loved making that sparkly pink roof. That’s a Barbie roof right there.

window closeup - daring bakers dec 2009 gingerbread house

You totally can’t tell this was my first time using pastry tips, right? Right?

another roof view - daring bakers dec 2009 gingerbread house

Let’s see that pink roof again.

layers of icing - daring bakers dec 2009 gingerbread house

Blew through a whole lot of gel food coloring making that brown, pink, violet, yellow, and blue icing.

back - daring bakers dec 2009 gingerbread house

That cord. I put rice lights inside the house. They were supposed to glow through the windows, but the effect was hardly noticeable. Culprit could either be using colored lights instead of white, one set instead of two, or thick butterscotch candy windows.

closeup - daring bakers dec 2009 gingerbread house

A closer look at the facade, easily the hardest part of the whole house.

closeup - daring bakers dec 2009 gingerbread house

That pink squiggle was the most satisfying part of the whole project, hands down. Perhaps it had something to do with being the last part of the project.

gingerbread: the wreckening

justin - daring bakers dec 2009 gingerbread house

It began so innocently, with Justin striking a pose next to the house after I took it to Mom’s on Christmas day.

maggie - daring bakers dec 2009 gingerbread house

Then Maggie asked if she could take the roof off. Fool that I am, I said yes.

maggie and jennifer - daring bakers dec 2009 gingerbread house

Then Jennifer got in on the action.

wreckage - daring bakers dec 2009 gingerbread house

The wreckage, after hurricane Magjen struck.

gingerbread dough

This recipe is for gingerbread for building a gingerbread house. It is a smooth, highly workable dough. I had excellent luck with it. Adapted from The Gingerbread Architect: Recipes and Blueprints for Twelve Classic American Homes.

Yield: 3-1/2 pounds of gingerbread dough

    1 cup vegetable shortening
    1 cup sugar
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    2 teaspoons ground ginger
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    1 cup dark (not light or blackstrap) molasses
    2 large eggs
    2 tablespoons white vinegar
    5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Using a large stand mixer, cream shortening and sugar.

Add baking powder, ginger, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. Beat until well-mixed.

Add molasses, eggs, and vinegar. Beat until smooth.

Add flour 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. The end result will be a smooth brown dough.

Turn out dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap and press into a rough square shape. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours before using. Will keep up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

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your comments

  1. chef_d says:

    very nice looking gingerbread house, i love the rice krispies trees and the chocolate rocks :)

  2. Jill says:

    What a great design!! I love the pink roof and sparkles! Those trees are too cute! :)

    • Amy says:

      Thanks! I gotta give the book credit. It has detailed templates and great explanations. This has the family inspired to make houses modeled after their own now. Next Christmas ought to be interesting. :p

  3. Y says:

    Wow, great house! Looks like something I actually wouldn’t mind living in either ;P

  4. Lauren says:

    Your house looks fantastic! I love the decorations, the colours, everything =D. Wonderful job on this challenge!

  5. cookemila says:

    Wow …. that more good work.
    I’ve realized how hard it is to build houses
    You did a divine work

  6. What a great design!! I love the colors and sparkles! great work!

  7. s-j says:

    I love your house! Amazing!

  8. Angelica says:

    WOW!! Fantastic job =)

  9. What an incredible house! I love how bright and cheerful it is—my niece would love the Barbie pink roof!! Congratulations on an awesome challenge entry.

  10. Christi says:

    So awesome, I love the colors!

  11. kristen says:

    i love your beautiful bright gingerbread house… and especially how the trees turned out (even if they did die your teeth green). and cute kiddos…looks like they had a ball doing the demolition.

  12. mon says:

    Love the colours!! Fantastic house!

  13. Suz says:

    This is great! I love how bold the colours are, and what a fantastic way to make trees. :D

  14. linda says:

    I only tasted the icing and that was great! the pics really don’t do it justice. green teeth and tongues to the great tree eaters!

  15. Mary says:

    Great gingerbread house….thanks for sharing….I always love to see the final results:)

  16. susan says:

    Your house came out great! I helped one of my daughters make the Dawson house (the other two made other houses from the same book). She ended up doing the facade according to the book and the rest according to Hansel and Gretel. Knowing how much work goes into it it makes me sad to see yours demolished! We haven’t brought ourselves to do it yet. Great blog, thanks for sharing.

    • Amy says:

      The cover house is the EXACT floor plan of 2/3 of my house. Ooh, I see you did it, and the Adirondack. That’s very ambitious. Congrats on doing three very involved houses!

  17. Lisa says:

    WOW, your colorful house, especially the hot pink roof, really caught my eye. Beautifully done and so fun to look at. Love the rice krispie treat trees too! Very very well done and Happy New Year!

  18. Miranda says:

    Very lovely gingerbread house! My hubs and daughter made one, but it is not the prettiest! LOL. They had fun…
    We did go to Pittsburgh where they had a gingerbread house competition and it was phnemonial!!!! They even had the white house in gingerbread form!!!

  19. Kelly says:

    Love the colors, it’s so fun!

  20. Soma says:

    Never seen a more unique looking ginger bread house. Looks dreamy like something in disney world! so much fun.

  21. Loraine says:

    May I ask: “how did you make these trees?”

    • Amy says:

      Now those trees were fun! You just mix up some rice krispies treats and add green food coloring. Grease up your hands and shape the warm mixture into tree shapes before it cools! Work fast! If you try it, let me know how it goes.

      I want to do another gingerbread house this year!

  22. Loraine says:

    We just built a gingerbread Eiffel tower for a gingerbread competition. I will try the trees tonight. Yours are really the best i have seen around!

  23. miss tori says:

    love the Barbie DreamHouse roof… #;)
    may i ask the baking temp, and about how
    long you baked yours? i scored a set of
    house cookie cutters @Micheals with a 40%
    off coupon(tyvm) and am dying to try them
    out. Your recipe looks ‘successful’ so am
    going to give a try…

    thank you!

    • Amy says:

      Hi Tori,

      Here’s the recipe and baking instructions. It can be halved; in fact, they include a half recipe in case you just want to make cookies or gingerbread ornaments. Which I did. And they were YUM.

      1 cup vegetable shortening (NOTE: I began substituting coconut oil for the shortening this year, as I can’t find any shortening without trans fat)

      1 cup sugar

      2 tsps baking powder

      2 tsps ground ginger

      1 tsp baking soda

      1 tsp salt

      1 tsp ground cinnamon

      ½ tsp ground cloves

      1 cup dark (not light or blackstrap) molasses

      2 large eggs

      2 tablespoons white vinegar

      5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

      (makes bout 3 ½ pounds)

      In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine shortening and sugar until well combined. Add the baking powder, ginger, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cloves and beat until well incorporated. Add the molasses, eggs, and vinegar, and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary. Add the flour, one cup at a time, and mix on low until smooth. Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a rough square. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least three hours or up to three days.

      Bake at 375 for 12-14 minutes.

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