Sunday, December 27, 2009

Daring Bakers-Gingerbread Houses

There is a winged lion on the left panel and an angel on the top

I can't believe that another month has passed, and it is time for another Daring Bakers' challenge. I had some troubles with the pictures, and more importantly with the stability of one of my creations. I chose the first dough, suggested by Anna, and noticed that the recipe has the wrong gram amount, which should be 1,330 instead of 1,660. I measured the flour in cups and the resulting dough was nice and soft, not dry like some of the other daring bakers mentioned. After baking, the dough stayed a little soft when I first made some houses, so for the second creation I cooked the heck out of it to the point of almost burning the edges.

Since we celebrated a birthday in the family, and the dough was really big, I cut enough for 9 small gingerbread houses, one for each of the kids who came to the party. The houses were a huge hit since they are things from story books and none of the kids had assembled nor decorated a gingerbread house before. They also loved the royal icing and couldn't stop eating it, really funny. I wish I had a pictures of all the creations because they were beautiful and unique, and one in particular was outstanding and looked like a log cabin. Alberto was the budding artist.

When not licking his fingers Alberto managed a beautiful log cabin

Since I am in Venice, visiting my home town, my family, and my "old" friends, I decided to propose something Venetian as well. Initially I thought of a palace, then decided to make a gingerbread reproduction of the famous Campanile di San Marco. It was really challenging to put the pieces together since during baking they lost the perfect edges, and when glued together they were not straight. I assure you that the real campanile is quite straight.

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.

Check here for the recipes and pictures of the amazing creations by other bakers.

Really crooked

The real thing

Anna's Recipe
Spicy Gingerbread Dough

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

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.

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.

* if a cup is 5 oz. and 1 ounce is 28 grams than the correct amount should be 1330 grams.

A special thanks to Anna and Y, and to the founders of the Daring Bakers for bringing all of us together with amazing ideas, month after month.


Francijn Brouwer said...

Your tower is beautiful! I love the icing decorations. However, the link you posted doesn't work, I came here through your profile.

Lien said...

What a wonderful idea to make the campanile, looks so good. Very creative.

Julia @ Mélanger said...

I love your gingerbread houses - both your little mini versions plus the tower. I was going to make mini ones. I wish I had now, given the trouble I had!

Wolf said...

Very nicely done! The little houses are adorable!

Lauren said...

I love your houses! The tower is especially fantastic =D. Wonderful job on this challenge!!

Jenny said...

LOVE the tower. Wonderfully done.

Jill said...

Oh Laura--I just knew you would have a FABULOUS and CREATIVE gingerbread piece! I love, love, LOVE it!! And i'm sure the kids had so much fun with the mini houses. Just beautiful. I hope you are doing well. :)

natalia said...

Ma quanto è bello !! La balconata è incredibile ! con cosa l'hai incollato ? La glassa mi faceva impazzire e ho usato il caramello ! A dopo !

Cindystar said...

Laura, proprio una bella idea di farla in tema veneziano!
Quanto ti fermi?
Spero tu abbia passato un sereno e giogioso Natale in famiglia e n caro augurio per un 2010 pieno di sogni che diventano realtà!

Gaia said...

CHe bellissima idea!
Tanti auguri .. ancora!

ClumsyChemist said...

Your gingerbread tower is beautiful!

Simona said...

Such a nice idea to make a gingerbread campanile!

Elra said...

Wow, this is really pretty Laura. Alberto did very well, very talented.

Giò said...

wow...che meraviglia!!!
buone feste!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Your Campanile di San Marco is a wonderful reproduction! I love all the detail you were able to achieve with the royal icing! Making a tall gingerbread is not easy and you did a wonderful first effort. I especially like the ideas of letting children build their own little creations.

Felice Anno Nuovo!

Laura said...

Amazing work putting together a tall tower. I love the detail with royal icing.

Jane Pavis said...

Wow! Laura, your gingerbread houses and photographs are amazing! I feel like I am in Venice with you! Thank you for sharing! xoxo

Jenny Tan said...

What a great tower you've made, and the detail with the royal icing! :)

Lisa Michelle said...

Laura, OMG, the tower is gorgeous and VERY daring, considering it's so slender and tall..but you totally pulled it off and beautifully! Also love the kid's little baby houses. This was definitely the perfect challenge to do with children. Saved for one day when I have some..LOL Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year!

il ramaiolo said...

Very good idea!!! I don't speak English very well but I see your blog: it's beautiful!! Happy new year!

Y said...

Okay it's a teeny bit crooked, but it still looks amazing! I love the icing details. Also those little house are extremely cute :)

bake in paris said...

Love the crooked tower and its decoration! This is another beautiful version of Pisa Tower...

Happy New Year!

Sawadee from Bangkok.

Laura said...

A general thank you for all your wonderful comments. I had fun making this house, despite the challenges. I have also learned a lot about decorating with royal icing, which I have done before but this time the small details I added made me pay more attention.

Happy New Year and Happy Baking!

peasepudding said...

Wow, I missed your Gingerbread Tower in December, it looks fabulous.

Anonymous said...

It looks "as safe as the Campanile of San Marco" as was the Venetian saying (before it collapsed in 1902...) ;-)

Lisa said...

great job! and such pretty details!


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