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.
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.
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.
Okay, I was just too lazy to sculpt in sugar clay. So sue me.
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!
The walkway, made of milk chocolate rocks. Easily the yummiest part of the house.
The other side of the house. Actually, the gingerbread and even the royal icing were pretty good-tasting.
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. Loved making that sparkly pink roof. That’s a Barbie roof right there.
You totally can’t tell this was my first time using pastry tips, right? Right?
Let’s see that pink roof again.
Blew through a whole lot of gel food coloring making that brown, pink, violet, yellow, and blue icing.
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.
A closer look at the facade, easily the hardest part of the whole 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
It began so innocently, with Justin striking a pose next to the house after I took it to Mom’s on Christmas day.
Then Maggie asked if she could take the roof off. Fool that I am, I said yes.
Then Jennifer got in on the action.
The wreckage, after hurricane Magjen struck.
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.