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Late for an important Daring Bakers date!

December 28, 2009

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 best laid plans easily go awry.   When I realized that the Daring Bakers reveal for December was during my trip home for Christmas, my plan was to get the challenge done in plenty of time, take pictures, prepare a post and then just publish it on December 27th. Easy peasy.

Only I forgot to load the pictures on to my computer, and thus to write a post ahead of time. So then I was going to write a post yesterday explaining that while I didn’t have my pictures, I did indeed complete the challenge and that I would post pics as soon as I got home. Only we were running around the entire day yesterday saying our final goodbyes and well, the post didn’t fit into the schedule.  The worst part is that the Daring Kitchen was so accommodating in giving us a range of dates to reveal, and I missed all of those dates.

Maybe subconsciously, I wasn’t excited about this challenge because I definitely lack the artistic skills of some of the other Daring Bakers.  When I looked at the examples of gingerbread houses, none of them hit the right cord with me, and then I realized that they didn’t look right to me because we live in an apartment. So I decided to make an apartment building.  This had the serious potential for a good looking gingerbread apartment building.  Unfortunately, I lack the skills to make said awesome gingerbread apartment building.

That being said, the dough was good, and I had fun trying to spell out things with icing on the leftover pieces.  As you can see, that didn’t work out either. But it was fun and totally Christmas-y, which I loved!

Gingerbread House

Anna’s Recipe:
Spicy Gingerbread Dough (from Good Housekeeping) http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/recipefinder/spicy-gingerbread-dough-157…

2 1/2 cups (500g) packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups (360mL) heavy cream or whipping cream
1 1/4 cups (425g) molasses
9 1/2 cups (1663g) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon(s) baking soda
1 tablespoon(s) ground ginger

Directions

1. In very large bowl, with wire whisk (or with an electric mixer), 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.

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/43x36cm)

4. 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.)

5. 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.

6. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (149C)

7. Use chilled rolled dough, floured poster board patterns, 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.

8. Chill for 10 minutes before baking if the dough seems really soft after you cut it. This will discourage too much spreading/warping of the shapes you cut.

9. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until pieces are firm to the touch. Do not overbake; pieces will be too crisp to trim to proper size.

10. 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. Cool pieces completely before attempting to assemble the house.

Royal Icing:

1 large egg white
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:
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.

Assembly:

Dredge the bottoms of the sides in the simple syrup and place on cardboard.  Let dry, and the house should be able to stand on its own. Decorate with royal icing and candies.

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