It was all about Hansel and Gretel in Soeren’s class this December. They studied the story, the characters and the grand finale was going to the Weimar Theatre to watch the fairy tale as an opera. He’s enjoyed the project very much and therefore, it was inevitable that when I saw what the Daring Bakers’ challenge was to be this year that we incorporate the tale into it.
I have to admit though I was missing the initial motivation for the challenge. We’ve been making gingerbread houses for Christmas for the past two years, using a brilliant recipe from one of Tom’s grandmother’s old cookbooks. The old cookbook is ancient but the recipe is perfect. It incorporates orange zest and other spices for an aromatic dough. Early December though I was just coming down from the London high and not in the total Christmas spirit yet.
It’s hard avoiding the Christmas spirit when one has a seven year old at home. His eyes gleaming each morning as he opened his advents calendar and counted down to Christmas. Soon enough his excitement was infectious and soon I began thinking up of ideas to realize the gingerbread house.
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 decided to go with Y’s Scandinavian gingerbread house recipe, simply because for those who know me a little will know that almost everything Scandinavian attracts and intrigues me, especially this! ;o)
Seriously though, the Scandinavian recipe promised to be winner using many of the similar spices from my tried and tested German recipe.
However, we did have some trouble with the dough. It was hard, very crumbly and needed to be moistened quite a bit to allow us to really work with it. We halved the recipe for a small house and our theme was Hansel and Gretel. We finally did manage to roll out the dough enough to get us some decent templates – a base, two triangles for the front and the back and two rectangles to make up the gabled walls. We made some of the royal icing but mainly used melted chocolate to stick the parts together. Dried coconut gave the snow effect and we tiled the roof with colorful chocolate disks and pink colored royal icing. My neighbor made the lovely figures for the house – thanks D!
Scandinavian Gingerbread House - Pepparkakstuga
From The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas
Printable version of recipe here
1 cup (225 g) butter, room temperature
1 cup (220 g) 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 (625 g) all-purpose flour, more if needed
- In a large bowl, cream the 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.
- Draw and cut patterns for the house, making patterns for the roof, front walls, gabled walls, chimney and door out of 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, but leave the pieces in place.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Roll out the dough a little at a time on a floured work surface to a thickness of approximately 1/8-inch. Place the templates on the dough and, using a sharp knife, cut around the templates. Transfer the pieces to cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
- 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.
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.
We have not broken into the house yet so we cannot give the taste verdict. However, as most gingerbread houses are usually made to last instead of being delectable I presume this one will be no different. It does smell awesome though – of spices, coconut and sugar. Unlike other Scandinavian favorites this recipe was not too hot and next year we’ll be using our old German “Lebkuchenhaus” recipe again.
Hope you all had a grand Christmas and are enjoying filled bellies from delicious meals.
Monthly Mingle – Winter Vegetables & Fruit
The choice is great - avocado, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, citrus fruit, pears, spinach or beans. The task is easy – cook up something using Winter produce and join us at the mingle.
Deadline January 11th, 2010!
You might like these past Daring Bakers’ challenges from WFLH:
|Caramel Cake with Caramel Butter Frosting||Danish Braid - Chocolate & Raspberries||Chocolate Caramel Tart|
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