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.Y chose a Scandinavian recipe from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book and Anna chose Spicy Gingerbread Dough from Good Housekeeping.
I chose Anna’s recipe since I had some heavy whipping cream to use up. This recipe was super easy to make and roll out. I also love the flavor of it and how sturdy it is. After a mishap with my children’s gingerbread houses, I decided to do flat top buildings.
The thought of an igloo popped into my head after trying to come up with something different. Since Steph from http://raspberricupcakes.blogspot.com/ did one, and what an awesome one it was, I decided to have the M&Ms meet the Smurfs.
As kids I am sure all in my age group used to watch this show. I love the cartoons of our time, so why not have them meet someone I love now. The M&M theme runs rampant in my house so it was a perfect pairing.
For the mushroom houses I sandwiched circle gingerbread cookies with royal icing and let them dry. After they dried I then spread more royal icing all over the structure and rolled it in fondant. The tops of the mushrooms were the cookie baked on top of a half ball pan and later cemented together on top of the mushroom 'stalk'. I spread thinned out royal icing on the tops and decorated them.
Go to http://thedaringkitchen.com/ for more gingerbread houses. While you're there why not join.
Preparation Time for Anna's Recipe:
10 minutes to mix the dough, 4-8 hours at least to chill it, then 5 minutes to roll, 10 to rest, and 10 to cut. Another 30 minutes to rest, if necessary. 25-30 minutes to bake, depending on the size of the pieces. I would estimate 2-4 hours to decorate, depending on how ornate you want to make everything. It could certainly take longer if you are doing a lot of intricate royal icing designs or making your own candies. Altogether, this will take 7-13 hours, including chilling time. But, as noted above, you can break this up over several days or even a couple weeks if the freezer is utilized.
Stand or handheld electric mixer (not required but it will make mixing the dough a lot easier and faster)
Cardboard cake board or sheet of thick cardboard
Foil, if desired
Small pastry brush (optional)
Piping bag with small round tip, or paper cornets if you're comfortable with them
Anna's Recipe:Spicy Gingerbread Dough (from Good Housekeeping) http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/recipefinder/spicy-gingerbread-dough-1571?kw=ist
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
Preparation Time for Y's Recipe:
5-10 minutes to mix the dough, 2 hours to chill, 5 minutes to roll, 10 to cut and 15 minutes to bake. Estimated 4-7 hours from start to finish including chilling.
Y's Recipe:Scandinavian Gingerbread (Pepparkakstuga)from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas http://astore.amazon.com/thedarkit-20/detail/0816634963
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]
1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until blended. Add the cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Mix the baking soda with the boiling water and add to the dough along with the flour. Mix to make a stiff dough. If necessary add more water, a tablespoon at a time. Chill 2 hours or overnight.
2. Cut patterns for the house, making patterns for the roof, front walls, gabled walls, chimney and door out of cardboard.
3. 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.
4. [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.]
5. 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.
1 large egg white
3 cups (330g) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon almond extract
Beat all ingredients until smooth, adding the powdered sugar gradually to get the desired consistency. Pipe on pieces and allow to dry before assembling. 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.