The 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.
Since joining the Daring Baker’s in February 2008 – going on 2 years now – I’ve made a number of recipes that would have never shown up in my kitchen. From an awesome, authentic french bread to all sorts of cakes, crackers and now the gingerbread house. Another first for me! I wasn’t sure how this was going to turn out, if it would even be standing in the end, but I shouldn’t have doubted myself. I made my gingerbread house on Sunday, December 13 and to this day it is still standing…although I haven’t moved it an inch since that Sunday.
I went pretty simple as far as decorating the house. I looked for edible decorations but was not happy with the same old candy canes and other goodies I found, so I used Wilton’s Royal Icing to add some basic features on the house. I used Wilton’s recipe for the icing because I didn’t want to use one with raw egg, not realizing till later that I probably wouldn’t be eating the house with the icing in the end anyway, but at least I didn’t have to worry about liking my fingers as I decorated :)
We had the option to use one of two recipes for the dough. I decided on Good Housekeeping’s Spicy Gingerbread Dough. It was a very easy dough to work with and, like I’ve said earlier, the house is still standing, so the baked cookies are very sturdy. unfortunately, gingerbread houses aren’t the tastiest to eat, but it was fun to use as a decoration through our holiday!
Spicy Gingerbread Dough
1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream or whipping cream
1/2 cup plus 1/8 cup light mild molasses
4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking soda
In very large bowl, with wire whisk, 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.
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.
Grease and flour large cookie sheets or line with baking mat. Roll out dough, 1 disk at a time to about 3/16-inch thickness. Cut out house with pattern of your choice. Place cookie cut-out pieces onto cookie sheet. Wrap any excess dough and reserve in refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Brush pieces lightly with water and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until pieces are firm to the touch. Do not overbake; pieces will be too crisp to trim to proper size.
Remove cookie sheet from oven. While house pieces are still warm, place patterns on top and use them as guides to trim shapes to match if necessary. Cool pieces completely on cookie sheets before removing.