Home for the Holidays: Gingerbread House

It’s that time of the month again for the Daring Bakers’ Challenge post. This month the these was “Home for the Holidays” and the challenge was to make a gingerbread house. The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was created 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 recipe from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

I used the C&H Small Gingerbread House template and the recipe from “Y” which is shown below. Now I’ll be honest and like last month (Caramel Ice Cream Cannoli Cups), I pushed this off until the last minute and then quickly threw my challenge project together. My house in definitely nothing to brag about; actually I was lucky it stood as long as it did. It amazes me that I am able to contract wedding cakes (See All of my Wedding Cake Posts) and yet, I struggled with a gingerbread house? There’s not much explanation for me to give… because my decorating job was minimal. Here it is:

The recipe:

Scandinavian Gingerbread (Pepparkakstuga) from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, well packed
2 tablespoons cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ cup boiling water
5 cups all-purpose flour

Cream 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.

Cut out desired patterns for the house out of paper or cardboard.

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 or pizza cutter, but leave the pieces in place.

Cut required shapes and transferred these to the baking sheet.

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.

Use Royal Icing and Simple Syrup to decorate and assemble:

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.

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