Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gingerbread House

Hello Daring Bakers!! I can't believe I wasn't able to participate for these last few months and I had to set aside my only free weekend (the first one in December) to tackle this challenge! But I'm not here to complain because this was such a fun task- even if it did kill my hand mixer...

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.

Here's the short and sweet version:

Make your hand-mixer-killer-gingerbread dough recipe and chill. I got lucky and started this in advance and then realized this dough has to chill overnight.

Take your dough out of the fridge about an hour before you are ready to cut the pieces. Again, this dough is killer- just about killed my wrists just trying to roll it out! Make sure that your dough's thickness is nice and even. Cut out the pieces using your template- making sure that you cut down into the dough withouth dragging your knife (otherwise you'll end up with some ugly cuts that will then cook up ugly).

While your dough is cooking, assemble your candy- the cat is not essential for this stage.

And just look at those beautiful gingerbread walls and roof top! Let them cool completely.

Next, make your syrup which you will be using to assemble the gingerbread house. Try not to burn it.. I never knew you could get such a dark black without using food coloring!

The candy is ready and waiting. The candy buttons were probably my favorite to use as they are small and colorful. I had high hopes for the Necco wafers (adorble roof shingles maybe?) but the colors are so bland! I gave away the Leone candy boxes (and can I just say that although the Polar Strong box is adorable, the candy tastes HORRIBLE!). If this experience taught me anything is that candies are heavy and frosting can only hold so much weight.

Roof Attempt Number 2. You don't want to see Attempt Number 1. Trust me.

Looking a little sad... Can I just say that the Royal Icing recipe I used sucked? I can't remeber which one it was- oh wait, it was Martha! But it was far too liquidey and I ended up using 2 pounds of sugar to even things out- and look! It still dripped all over the place! We couldn't even pretend that the drips were icicles! (Can you tell my the exclamation points that this is a hot topic with me?)

Gumball fence- coconut snow and snowman with a Mint Meltaway hat and Big League Chew scarf- Cut down Mint Meltaway wreaths- Necco Wafer walking path- Fruit Salad gummy bushes with Candy Button flowers.

In the end though I think we pulled it off. We settled on a simple roof and stopped fighting the heavy candy and just let them hang out at ground level. But next time, I'll be getting smaller candy and a different dough recipe (unless Santa brings me a mixer that can handle it!)