This year, thanks to the Daring Kitchen, a new tradition may have been born. I was challenged to make a gingerbread house from scratch. Wanting to share the fun (and work load) with others, I invited friends over to help build my dream bakery...out of dough. We created not just a place that sold sugary baked treats. This is a shop where the artisan skills of my talented friends can be showcased in the form of breads and smoked charcuterie. Yep, cookies, candies, cakes, breads and BACON!
A few details, such as the shutters and front door were piped on using royal icing.
Once the icing details were dry, we could determine the lay of the "land". The walls and the roof were sealed together by piping royal icing along the seams.
The front window display has sweet treats ready to be eaten.
Shannon created these using royal icing and sprinkles.
Peering closely into the window display reveals their intricacy. Shannon wanted the treats to appear whimsical rather than realistic.
The Bakery-Smokery is outfitted with a stone-paved fireplace.
Garin did the mason work.
The stones are actually edible chocolate rocks. They taste very similar to M&Ms.
An extreme close-up reveals just how realistic these chocolate rocks appear.
While Garin finished laying the stones for the chimney. Matt and I shingled the roof with Cascadian Farms multi-grain squares. Yes, our roof is organic!
Here's a side view of the attached smoke house.
It's nestled among a small forest of snowy-boughed trees.
The separate entrance for the smoke house is a classic (two-part) dutch door. A sign prominently announces its purpose.
Shannon was responsible for landscaping. The trees were cut in half longitudinally (before baking) and painted (after baking) on both sides using a flooded icing technique.
Once the icing was dry, four tree halves were held together in 3D by piping a stiff royal icing along the inner seams.
The house is living underneath my Christmas tree. A light from the tree is fed in through the back window to illuminate it.
Gingerbread dough rolled flat. Ready to cut out patterns.
Once baked, the pattern pieces were matched up to the gingerbread counterparts again. This helped to ensure a good fit and to indicate placement.
The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted 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 also consulted Gingerbread for All Seasons by Teresa Layman for patterns and ideas. Here are the recipes that I used.
Spicy Gingerbread Dough (from Good Housekeeping)
2½ cups (500g) packed dark brown sugar
1½ cups (360mL) heavy cream
1¼ cups (425g) molasses
9½ cups (1663g) all-purpose flour
2 TBS baking soda
1 TBS ground ginger
1. In very large bowl of 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 several large cookie sheets
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° F.
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 1¼ 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.
10. Remove cookie sheet from oven. While house pieces are still warm, place poster-board patterns on top and use them as guides to trim shapes to match if necessary. Cool pieces completely before attempting to assemble the house.
3 large egg whites
1 lb powdered sugar
⅛ tsp cream of tartar
Beat all ingredients with electric mixer until smooth and glossy white (5-7 minutes). Portion icing into smaller bowls and tint with food coloring. I used AmeriColor. For flooding technique on trees and shudders, add water to tinted icing until you achieve a runny yogurt-like consistency. Pipe on pieces and allow to dry before assembling. If you aren't using it all at once you can keep the icing 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.