I tried making a gingerbread house when my oldest daughter was about two. Goodness gracious. Candy everywhere... she was all sugared up for hours. I wasn't exactly tickled with the process. I actually said to myself, never again. Well, if there is one thing I learned in my life so far is to never say never. Yup. I did the challenge. And I had fun! Yes, despite what some of the DB'ers are saying it does taste good. My kids have been eating the cookies we cut out from the dough.
After I finished my house I constructed miniature houses for my kids to decorate. We had a blast. I really enjoyed doing it with the kids and I hope to do it next year as well.
Okay I hleped my youngest a little here. But all I did was make that flowerish shaped thingy.
Okay, when Mom is not looking let me stick my finger in my frosting and eat it. Who cares about the house, I'm in it for the sugar.
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.
We had a choice of two recipes. I chose this one and I did accidentally make an adjustment. When all was said and done though it worked out fine.
My Tips for Gingerbread House Building:
1. Plan, plan, plan.
2. Construct blue print and template.
3. Immediately after baking cut the forms again to ensure perfect construction. I cant stress this step enough. If your pieces are out of alignment, the whole thing will be way more difficult.
4. Think outside the gingerbread box.
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 ( I used 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon(s) ground ginger
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.
Simple Syrup: (really this should be called caramel- hard ball stage)
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.
(Yes, no water). I recommend using half of this unless you have everything ready to go. It gets hard fast, so you have to work quickly. You can heat it up again and again but at some point it just gets too dark.)
I did use this to make windows. So when I place a candle inside the house (an electronic one), I can see the light shining through in amber tones.
For the royal icing:
I used the powdered meringue recipe on the back of the container. Worked like a charm. Ended up using that for my glue for the most part.
I had gone to the George Eastman Gingerbread House display for inspiration. Here is one of the neat GB "houses' that was there.