Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Daring Bakers' Challenge December 2009 - Home for the Holidays

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 delighted when I saw what this month's challenge was to be! I had planned to make one of these for the first time last Christmas - I'd made the dough and was all set to enroll the boys' help on the 25th, when M got taken into hospital, and by the time we got out the dough was only fit for the bin!

I chose to work with Y's choice of recipes, simply because I could easily get the ingredients needed. The dough was, as many DBs noted, extremely dry even after spending a day resting in the fridge:

I didn't have time to start again so just persevered with what I'd got. It worked out OK, I still managed to roll it out thinly (and I was surprised at how thick the gingerbread was after it had been baked). I made my royal icing a little too thick (which I suppose is better than too runny!), but I had no trouble 'gluing' the house together. Decorating it was the fun part, however what happened to all the sweets that I'd bought for this project?! Never mind, I'm beginning to think that less is more...

The pattern I used was taken from the BBC Good Food website:


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
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.