I had never made a Gingerbread House and it seemed a little much to fit-in while prepping my own real-life house for guests, Christmas and several wonderful, but huge catering gigs. I'm so completely happy that I gave it a go because I now have a NEW TRADITION; It was that easy and FUN!! 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. There are so many recipes for gingerbread and it's success seems to depend on humidity and handling. In this post I'll include the links that were really helpful; given by our hosts. I'll also include the recipe that I used and I have to say was remarkably easy, moist, problem-free and I highly recommend it. It comes from Allison at SOMEONE'S IN THE KITCHEN. A big thank you to her for being so generous in sharing her family's traditional Gingerbread. The MOST wonderful thing about my Gingerbread Day was having my daughter spend time with me and create her own incredible Mid-Century version. We laughed, we ate, we laughed and we ate...and we turned out a couple of real beauties (in our own humble opinions.) I loved the little touch of the doggy and the yellow snow; she cracks me up. Here'a another link that I found really cool. It's a short video about a Gingerbread House of the Smithsonian Castle. Smithsonian Castle Gingerbread House
Here are the recipes, directions and links for a great time making your Gingerbread House. Anna's Notes: If you don't have an awful lot of time, the doughs can easily be frozen and then thawed when you are ready to roll it. The baked pieces can also be tightly wrapped in plastic and frozen for assembly later.
Anna's Recipe: Spicy Gingerbread Dough (from Good Housekeeping) http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/recipefinder/spicy-gingerbread-dough-157...
Y's Notes: I found this slideshow very helpful: http://www.bonappetit.com/tipstools/slideshows/2008/12/gingerbread_house...Allison's recipe and info: "The recipe that I use is a tried and true recipe that my mother and I have made for many years. Keep in mind that this recipe makes enough dough for 4 or 5 houses using the template that will be posted on my blog during the reveal. If you don't want that many houses, you can always make cookies for decorating too. I've made this dough and kept it in the fridge for weeks before working with it and had no problems."
Gingerbread House Recipe
Recipe By :Sullivan County Extension Homemakers Club
Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
7 Cups Sifted All Purpose Flour -- 7-8 cups
1 Teaspoon Soda
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Nutmeg
3 Teaspoons Ginger
1 Cup Shortening
1 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Unsulphered Molasses
2 Each Eggs
1 Cup Additional Flour -- 1-2 cups
3 Each Eggs Whites -- room temp
4 Cups Confectioner's Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Cream of Tarter
Sift together first 5 ingredients. Blend together molasses, shortening, sugar and eggs. Stir dry ingredients into molasses mixture. Add enough of the additional flour to make a dough stiff enough to be shaped into a disc. Refrigerate overnight for easier handling. Can be frozen.
Will make 4-5 small gingerbread house using this pattern.
Roll to about 1/4" thickness on a floured cookie sheet. Trace the house pattern pieces onto typing paper and cut out. Arrange pattern pieces on cookie dough and carefully cut around each pattern being certain to allow 1/2" space between pieces to allow the dough to expand as it bakes.
Cut the dough with a sharp paring knife or the edge of a metal pancake turner. Be certain the walls and roof are the same size as the patterns. Remove scraps leaving house pieces on the cookie sheet. Do not attempt to shift pieces once they have been cut out. This will stretch the dough and distort the shape. Bake at 350 12-15 mins.
Carefully loosen then remove each piece with a metal pancake turner. Cool on a wire rack. When the walls are completely cooled, place a sheet of aluminum foil on the cookie sheet shiney side up. Arrange the walls on the foil. With a hammer, pulverize a few pieces of hard clear candy in a plastic bag. Spoon some of the crushed candy into each window. Return the cookie sheet to the oven and bake a few mins in order to melt the candy. Watch carefully, the candy melts quickly. Remove pieces from the cookie sheet and cool on a rack. When completely cooled (don't rush this cooling step) peel the foil from the backs of each wall. The foil will peel easily from the window if it has cooled sufficiently.
Assemble using Royal Icing as "glue". Glue the walls together first. When icing has hardened (about 15 mins) then glue on the roof. Glue on the chimney and door. When icing has hardened you may begin decorating the house with additional icing and candy.
Suggested candies: cinnamon red hots, starlight peppermints, candy canes, gum drops, miniature marshmallows, M&M's, sweettarts, silver dragees.
Make a larger house by increasing the size of the pattern pieces. As you assemble a larger house, stuff a small string of miniature Christmas lights inside the house with the cord sticking out. Your gingerbread house can glow with the lights are plugged in. Make a gingerbread house for your pet. Use yellow, pink, or orange hard clear candies for the windows.
Royal Icing: Purchase Wilton Meringue Powder where cake decorating supplies are sold and follow the recipe on the can for Royal Icing. Or, use the scratch recipe above. Do NOT use a shortening based frosting. When making Royal Icing, it is essential that all mixing utensiils are grease free. The slightest bit of oil or grease will case the Royal Icing to break down. Royal Icing dries quickly so keep the bowl covered with a damp cloth at all times. Can be refrigerated.
Beat all icing ingredients at high speed for 7-10 mins. Add more sugar for a stiffer consistency if necessary. Makes 2-1/2 cups.
I'd love to hear about other ideas for decor and design. Hope you all had amazing Holidays!