Sunday, December 27, 2009

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 story of this little house begins with The Great Scandinavian Gingerbread recipe. As it turns out: the not-so-great Scandinavian recipe. It was dry, and crumbling everywhere. Never having worked with gingerbread dough before I wondered if this was normal.  I read other Daring Bakers were having similar issues but this month's hosts said: rest assured the dough will become more moist over night.

As a good baker would, I let my dough rest and returned to it the next morning. Sadly, the dough was still stiff.  With my determination to make a cute little gingerbread house I continued. So, I rolled, I cut and I baked all the sides as I planned in my designs...

...which even included a sleigh.

I chose this recipe because I already had all the ingredients in my pantry. So, although the better baker in my knew this was just going to result in double the work I had convinced myself otherwise.

Well, lesson learned - just go with what you know - and I knew this was going to be a flop when I saw the first crumb.

I am not a quitter! I was going to make this gingerbread house if it took every last ounce of flour I had!

And so it did... I used the other recipe this time and it was much better!! A good stable dough.  {my mom suggested it could have been a difference in the type of flour they have available in Scandinavia. She always has to alter her Hungarian recipes because of the differences in flour, milk and butter between the two countries. So that might explain why the dough was so dry. I'm sure it would have been a good recipe if I had the proper ingredients.}

Recipe # 2. comes from Good Housekeeping

Spicy Gingerbread Dough


  • 2 1/2 cup(s) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup(s) heavy cream or whipping cream
  • 1 1/4 cup(s) light (mild) molasses {I used unsulfured}
  • 9 1/2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoon(s) baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon(s) ground ginger

  1. 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.{I used my trusty Kitchen Aid}
  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). 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.) 

 I think rolling dough on a cookie sheet might be a little difficult so I suggest rolling it onto parchment paper for a simple, non-stick transfer.

4.  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.
5.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Use chilled rolled dough, floured poster board patterns {I just sketched and cut out on regular printer paper}, 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.

6.  Brush house pieces lightly with water before baking. {I must have overlooked this step - Mine turned out fine without brushing them with water.} Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until pieces are firm to the touch. Do not over-bake; pieces will be too crisp to trim to proper size.
7.  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. {I highly recommend this! Even though your cookies look like they didn't change in shape trust me, when trying to assemble the house you will notice the slightly curved edges from that occurred because of the dough rising.} 

Cool pieces completely on cookie sheets before
removing them from parchment and decorating.


There was only one piece of the original house that remained in tact (that is, from the Scandinavian recipe.) It had already been decorated and I was saving it for assembly once I re-did the rest of the house..until Richard got to it! AGHHH! I can't believe of all the broken pieces he chose to eat the one that actually did not break!!

Time to assemble, decorate and Have fun!!
Use royal icing to glue the house together and to decorate. You can use food coloring to make different colors. Or add candies, sprinkles, chocolates etc.


Royal Icing:

1 large egg white
3 cups (330g) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon almond extract  
{you dont have to add the extract especially if you're not going to eat the stuff.  No need to waste precious extracts!}

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.



    Theresa said...

    dear flirting with flour,
    you went all out with this wonderful gingerbread house!! it's super cute!!

    ps, we so need to get together soon! i miss my roommate!

    cookies and cups said...

    Great job! I always use those pre-made gingerbread houses, which taste horrible. Maybe next year I'll try one from scratch!

    Amanda said...

    Oh, I am coming to you for all my tutorial needs... great job!!!