Friday, December 25

Merry Christmas!!!

And the December Daring Bakers Challenge is a 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.

The baked ends and sides, see they went a bit wonky :(

I used Y's recipe as follows:- (my notes as always in red)

Y's Recipe:
Scandinavian Gingerbread (Pepparkakstuga)
from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas

1 cup butter, room temperature [226g]
1 cup brown sugar, well packed [220g]
2 tablespoons cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground cloves I left this out, as I was fairly certain the children wouldn't eat it.
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ cup boiling water
5 cups all-purpose flour [875g]

The start of the constructions.

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.

A very tired little helper, who has helped herself to the sweeties, hence the slightly guilty look.

Royal Icing:

1 large egg white I used 2 egg whites and enough pure icing sugar to make a thick stiff icing.
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.

Simple Syrup: I skipped this bit and just used the royal icing.
2 cups (400g) sugar

Place in a small saucepan and heat until just boiling and the sugar dissolves. Dredge or brush the edges of the pieces to glue them together. If the syrup crystallizes, remake it.

My thoughts, I wasn't a fan of the dough, I found it hard to mix and knead and very dry, having to add quite a bit more water the next morning, after letting it rest overnight. I also found it a bit stiff to roll and it didn't roll evenly as you can see on the photos. We haven't as yet tasted it, as we want it to look pretty for awhile, but I think I would probably revert back to my standard Woman's Weekly Gingerbread recipe, as it cooks well and breaks well for eating. I have a feeling this one might be a bit too crisp for our tastes.

I had helpers with the decorating as you can see, but I'd much rather a homely loved gingerbread house that the children love, and we did have lovely fun making it all together.


  1. Fabulous as usual Lesley!
    I hope you've had a wonderful Christmas.

    Wishing you a very happy 2010!

  2. I love how colourful your house is! And how much do I wanna munch on that roof right now :P

  3. Little helper looks so cute, love the candy mosaic roof :)

  4. I love how you decorated your gingerbread house, very nice :)

  5. Oh WOW! that looks divine! you are a very creative lady. Wish I was at your house for Christmas dessert YUMMO!

  6. I love how festive and colorful your house turned out. :)
    Merry Christmas!!

  7. What a *sweet* house :) I love your guilty looking little helper!

  8. Great job on your gingerbread house. It looks so cute and colorful. And it looks like santa's elf can't wait to dig in. Happy holidays.

  9. Beautiful! And what a cute little helper!

  10. I love your "snow". It looks so pretty!r