Daring Bakers turn Architects

December 26, 2009 · 23 comments

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.

Yay! Gingerbread houses! I feel like I’ve done my dash waxing lyrical about gingerbread in my recent Gingerbread Christmas Biscuits post, and I’m a little weary after the last day spent completely gorging on food and opening exciting presents, so I might let the pictures speak for themselves.

We were given a choice of two different gingerbread recipes, but for the purposes of this post I’m going to give you a different one that I can recommend if you are going to get architectural yourself. If you are just going to make gingerbread biscuits though, I’d recommend my usual gingerbread recipe instead.

Gingerbread House
Gingerbread and icing recipes from taste.com.au

Ingredients
Gingerbread
3 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1 cup plain flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
185g butter, chopped
1/2 cup golden syrup
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Royal Icing
2 eggwhites, lightly beaten
3 cups pure icing sugar

Decorations
Freckles
Red licorice
Smarties
Mint leaves
Tiny teddies
Teddy bear biscuits
Marshmallows
Paperclip
Tina wafer biscuits
Barley sugar (or similar) lollies
Dairy Milk rounds
Desiccated coconut

Method
1. Design or download a house template and cut out of card. I used Martha Stewart’s Snow-Swept Gingerbread Cottage template, but after printing and cutting it out I found it was too small for my liking. I then spent quite a while scaling it up by hand so it was a better size, and just ended up using paper cut outs as I didn’t have any card handy. I also added some extra cut-outs for window sills.
2. Combine flours, ginger, cinnamon, sugar and butter in a food processor. Process until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Whisk golden syrup and eggs together in a jug. With the motor running, add egg mixture and process until dough just comes together. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently until smooth. Cut dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until well chilled.
3. Roll dough, 1 portion at a time, between 2 sheets baking paper until 5mm thick. Remove top layer baking paper. Using cut-outs as a guide, cut shapes from dough. Place gingerbread in a single layer on trays. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or until firm. Crush some barley sugar lollies to fill the window holes to create “glass”. My parents don’t have a mortar & pestle, so I did this by wrapping up the lollies in baking paper and bashing the crap out of them with the top of a meat tenderiser. This successfully drew my Dad out of the lounge room to investigate what the hell was going on in the kitchen. A useful tip to remember.


4. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 4 baking trays with baking paper. Place gingerbread on trays. Bake, 2 trays at a time, for 15 minutes or until firm (keep an eye on the smaller pieces as you may need to remove them earlier). Cool on trays.

5. Make royal icing: Using an electric mixer, beat eggwhites until soft peaks form. Gradually add icing sugar, beating constantly until thick.


6. Put the royal icing in a piping bag with a round tip, or in a ziplock bag with a corner snipped off. Use it to get decorating…

Tina wafer window shutters, Smarties window frames, Mint Leaf wreath and Freckles roof tiles (very important to overlap them properly so the rain will run off correctly… we don’t want the gingerbread family’s furniture to get rain damage, especially not at Christmas)

7. Let the decorations set before assembling the house, so that they don’t slide off. Use more royal icing to assemble the house, propping up the pieces with tins of food. Another tip I came across was to use dressmaker’s pearl-headed pins to hold the panels together, but I didn’t try this myself. Let the side panels set before attempting to attach the roof.


8. Add more decorating touches…

Mint leaf greenery, red licorice pillars to hide the joins, and icicles dripping from the roof


The residents will soon complain if we don’t have a working chimney to see them through tsunami season, and we’d better test it by lighting a fire. Ooh, the marshmallow smoke seems to be pumping out nicely

Lay down a nice footpath and you won’t be able to keep out the riffraff

Ta-da! (thanks Dad for being a valiant prop-holder)

9. After showing it off for a while to much praise, ignore the cries of those around you and bust that baby open to feast upon its dismembered pieces. You might even find a surprise tin can of mushrooms that you accidentally left inside. Surprise mushrooms! Merry Christmas!

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