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.
I was very excited about this challenge because I have never made a gingerbread house before. I knew exactly which kind of candy that I wanted to use for roof tiles and I knew that I wanted to incorporate a Tardis into the design 🙂 There was no way that I was going to make a Tardis Gingerbread house. I decided that I would ask for a Tardis for Christmas and then put it in the front yard of the Gingerbread House to make it look like The Doctor was visiting for Christmas. I made the house, and the Tardis never came. Maybe next year The Doctor can visit for Christmas 🙂
The house, I took the advice of Y and looked at the Gingerbread House slideshow on Bon Appetit. It helped so much that I decide that I was going to use that base design for the house. I used the Scandinavian Gingerbread recipe that was provided by Y and I used the Wilton Royal Icing recipe since I knew how it would behave.
I had did not have any problems with the dough or with the gingerbread cooking. I did straighten the sides up a bit after it came out of the oven. But I was surprised how smoothly everything went. When it was time to put the house together, I called Mike in the room so that I would have another set of hands. He held the walls in place while I piped the icing in, and when he let go they held. I waited probably an hour for the base to firm up before I put the roof on, and then I probably waited another hour or so before I started to put the candy on the roof.
Since I was also making a Yule Log for Christmas, I decided to make some extra fondant holly leaves and snowmen and extra meringue mushrooms and use them as decorations in the yard. I also used the royal icing as the snow and used edible White Cake Sparkles to make the snow sparkle a little. For the roof there was a little incident. I realized while tiling the roof that 1 pound of chocolate nonpareils was not enough to tile the entire roof. So I decided to make it look like there was snow still on the roof and cover the top of the roof with royal icing. I also used Holland mints to line the sides of the house to add more color. In the end, I was very happy with how the Gingerbread House turned out, but the Tardis would have made it a dream especially if The 10th or 4th Doctor was stepping out of it 🙂
Scandinavian Gingerbread (Pepparkakstuga)
Source: The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas
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.