Sunday, December 27, 2009

An Edible Church - A Foray into Culinary Architecture

Oh my. I am so excited and happy to be back on the bandwagon with the Daring Bakers this month! :o)

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.

I have to be honest; I was a bit nervous as to what December's challenge might be after last December's Buche du Noel. Every bit rich and delicious, but certainly a personification of the word 'challenge.' :-) Don't get me wrong -- I love the prospect of a challenge -- but this time of year is so packed with activity as it is, I find it difficult to take on tasks that require many consecutive hours of work. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised to discover this year's Daring Bakers' Challenge to be a little less of a challenge in terms of elements, but moreso on creativity. ;-)

I chose to use the Scandinavian gingerbread recipe for my walls:

1 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
2 T. cinnamon
4 t. ground ginger
3 t. ground cloves
2 t. baking soda
1/2 c. boiling water
5 c. all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until well-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.

After making templates, cut out gingerbread house pieces and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes at 375 degrees F. Trim the shapes, if necessary, after the pieces have cooled on the baking sheet.

I did not add enough water to my dough so it was too stiff and dry the next day when I attempted to roll it out. I broke off crumbly pieces and tried to meld them together with moistened hands. The dough was extremely stiff and difficult to roll out. Fortunately, I managed to roll out enough for my walls, but the remainder went in the garbage. Next time, I will listen to my intuition when it says to add a bit more liquid... :-)

I traced out walls on a piece of cardboard and carved them out of the dough with a knife.
I had to make a little purchase at the store before commencing my baking project, however, as we were without baking sheets in our new apartment....and they were a worthy investment as they've been used about a dozen times already for other Christmas baking endeavors.

The walls assembled quite nicely, except that I should have allowed for some extra length on my roof pieces in order to cover the front and back walls. My gingerbread house became a church as the walls were rather long and tall, reminding me of the long nave of a church. I had even considered adding stained glass windows but realized too late that I should have stuck the candies into melt before I stuck it in the oven to bake the dough. Oops.
Two of my brothers joined me in my gingerbread house-making escapade. We took a trip by the grocery candy bins and picked out ample amounts of festive candy to adorn our houses.
Complete with a wreath, tree, and Christmas lights on the eaves.... One of my kids at school made a gingerbread house using Frosted Mini-Wheats for a snow-covered roof...ingenious! I followed suit.

The royal icing recipe smelled like glue to one of my brothers. Luckily, it worked just like it! It held my walls together fantastically.

Royal Icing

1 large egg white
3 c. powdered sugar
1 t. white vinegar
1 t. vanilla extract

Beat all ingredients until smooth, adding the powdered sugar gradually to get the desired consistency. Pipe on the pieces and allow to dry before assembling.

The icing was very sticky. It was easy to take small pieces and attach the candies.

I hope our gingerbread house assembly party becomes a family tradition. It was a delight making them from scratch.

Stay tuned for the boys' houses.... ;-)


mdeals said...

i am the first one who comment on your gingerbread cute your blog and house both.

Christina said...

Gingerbread house! It's tough about that intuition thing because you *know* you should go with it, yet you stop yourself. Sounds like you had a fun time decorating the church!

Jill said...

Congratulations on your first gingerbread house/church! I especially like the gumdrop tree. Also, your idea of using melted candies for the windows was a good one and you can actually make the windows after you've baked the gingerbread. It only takes a few minutes and it doesn't over bake it. Just a little information for next year. :)

Joana said...

uhmmm yummy yummy!

Happy New Year

sweetakery said...

Congratulations on your first gingerbread house! its so cute! Happy New Year!

Jenny Tan said...

I forgot to stick my candies for the windows and skylight in to bake as well...and was running out of maybe next time. Great job for your 1st gb house! Very cute! :)