Can you believe it is only two days till christmas?? I’ve been running around all day doing last minute errands and not trying to be overrun by the crazy shopping crowd… I am so happy I will not have to go shopping tomorrow as that must be the worst day of the year! Carloads full of food are being carried from supermarkets to houses… and well, we’re not an exception in that, but it still amazes me every year. In the midst of all the christmas preparations I was doing the final touchup and decorating of the Daring Bakers challenge for this month; a 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.
When reading about the challenge for the very first time I was all excited! I had never attempted to make a gingerbread house and it seemed pretty straightforward.. Pay attention here to the word ‘seemed’… I started out fine; I mixed the dough using the instructions from Y’s recipe (we got to pick from two different recipes) and put the dough in the fridge for about 5 hours I think it must have been. Imagine my surprise when I took it out of the fridge and it was like a brick! Solid and hard. If you pressed it, it crumbled and fell apart… Literally fell apart. Needless to say that rolling it out with a rolling pin was out of the question, but it was so hard that I even had trouble breaking of a bit so that I could flatten it. I had to use a knife to cut the balls (I made several smaller balls rather then one large one) in two. I then had to smash and bang the dough into submission… And when I say smash and bang, I mean smash and bang!! I was pounding my fists on it to get it to behave a little bit better and then once it was pressed into crumbs I had to mold it all together into one piece. So here I was smashing the dough to pieces and then pressing it ‘gently’ all together to form some sort of shape. The first side of the house took me about half an hour to prepare for the oven! It was quicker to bake then it was to mould it!
I was convinced I must have done something wrong, but upon checking the forums it turns out that I was definitely not the only one with the issue. I also have a feeling that the cup/gram conversion did not work too well. The recipe stated to use 5 cups equalling 875 gr of flour, but when I recalculated (too late I might add!) with a different converter it said that 5 cups would be 700 gr. And that is quite a considerable difference in volume needed and might explain at least party of the dryness, although some people had the problem while adjusting the flour to be less. I really don’t know, but let’s just say that this is not a recipe I will ever be making again. I came across some other recipes that look more promising so I might be trying those out some time in the future. For this challenge there really was no time to do it again, so I just went with it and smashed the living daylights out of the dough. As you can see it – at some point – got together and while my walls and roof where quite bumby they did stay together, wit the exception of one piece of the wall which cracked. I just glued it back together with royal icing.
Because the whole baking part took so long I didn’t have time to glue anything together that night, so I had to wait until the next day to start assembling the bits and pieces. Because of the wonky-ness of the walls and the roofs it was quite hard to put it all together and at first I was a bit too impatient and figured I could just add the roof on top while the walls where still drying… NOT a good idea I can tell you. Thankfully nothing broke and I just attached the roofs after the walls had been drying for a couple of hours.
I just a template from Martha Stewart but because she only included the inch measurements for the roof pieces and I was quite frankly a little bit too lazy to look it up, I just used two halves of an A4 sheet to measure the rooftop which turned out to be less then accurate…So when assembling the house and putting the roof up; I noticed I had quite a large gap where the two roofhalves did not line up at all. O well, I covered most of it with royal icing and then just covered it with chocolates to conceal the crime..
I wanted to decorate with all sorts of fancy christmas candy, but – guess what – the store was all out of christmas sweets, so I had to do with whatever was left over. If only I had know! I came across a large collection of christmas chocolates this morning, but didn’t bring them as I figured I wanted to buy them at the supermarket to save the amount of shops I had to stand in line for. O well, I think that all things considering it doesn’t actually look all that bad. I think it’s kind of cute, don’t you?
Tastewise it is really not the best and quite unedible, so it’s going to live a long life, since we’re not gonna eat it. Maybe eventually the candy will be picked off and eaten, but the gingerbread itself it quite boring.
So all in all, I loved the challenge and had fun putting the house together, but the recipe itself was terrible. Both in terms of taste as well as in terms of the quality of the dough (I think that dough is even too good a name for this; crumbs is more like it) Because of my obvious dislike of this recipe, I will not be giving it to you , but instead I hereby promiss that I will make another gingerbread house with another recipe and see how that compairs to this one!