Gingerbread House – Daring Bakers Challenge December 2009

December 27th, 2009

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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.

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I hadn’t planned on making a gingerbread house in December, for Christmas or for any other occasion. It just seemed like I already had enough on my plate around this time of year, without complicating it even further with making a gingerbread house.

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This didn’t stop my enthusiasm when I found out what we were making. I’d never made a gingerbread house before – not even plain gingerbread… So I went straight to the internet to get ideas (I even asked a friend from work about the structural plans her husband had used last year – as that was an awesome gingerbread house!)

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I decided to scale it down and not attempt the two storey magnificent house and found a cute (what I thought would be relatively easy and not too time consuming) gingerbread house with very cute decorations.

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I’m not particularly good with my estimations, as everything seemed to take a lot longer than I had intended (everything except my plans for the house I drew up, along with a cardboard contraption to ensure the roof had a curve to it). The dough was very easy to make (except – I ran out of plain flour – who does that?) plus I think the conversion we were given may have been wrong, as it says 5 cups of flour was 875g not 625g, which is what other internet resources say.

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I left the dough in the fridge overnight, as I was having a busy weekend. The next morning it took ages (more than an hour) for the dough to come to a workable consistency – I had to bring in the big guns to roll it out for me.

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I had been given a hint, that you should cut out your gingerbread pieces once the gingerbread is baked and still warm – as it tends to shrink and warp while cooking, giving uneven walls etc. That was very useful in making sure I had the correct shapes. I just cut out the dough a bit bigger than my templates and cut out the templates from my cooked gingerbread while it was still warm – leaving the roof to set on my curved cardboard (a 24cm long piece of cardboard stuck to a piece of paper to measure 23.7cm on the paper.) I stabilised it with two rolled up overhead projector transparency sheets.

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Once it was all cooked and cooled, I had to find my decorations. Why is it that every time you’re looking for something in particular, you can never find it?? This happened with a few of my items, although in the end, I couldn’t really fit anything else on the large pavlova plate I was using.

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The royal icing was a first for me, and I found that 330g icing sugar seemed a bit too much for the amount of egg white (maybe I had to mix it more). I used some reasonably runny icing for the decorations, although it wasn’t great for holding up the walls of the house. So I added more icing sugar and eventually got quite a hard icing, which worked well for stabilising the walls and roof. All a part of learning, I guess.

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I had help with all the decorating and holding of pieces from my mum and sister (thanks ladies), with them making the very cute snow men out of marshmallows, royal icing and sour strips. (How cute are the scarves and gloves? 🙂 )

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Holding the leaning side walls, chimney and especially the large roof were a bit nerve racking, although with a bit of icing and patience, it held together.

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The gingerbread was quite flavoursome (with everyone eating the off cuts and lollies while working), although I think I would put less ground cloves in next time (most people loved the strong flavours, but it was a bit strong for me).

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Now…. To transfer it to my place for Christmas… why didn’t I do it at my home?

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Thanks again to both our hosts. I really enjoyed this challenge (even though I am unlikely to make a gingerbread house as elaborate again).

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I used Y’s chosen recipe:

Scandinavian Gingerbread (Pepparkakstuga)

from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas http://astore.amazon.com/thedarkit-20/detail/0816634963

1 cup butter, room temperature [226g]
1 cup brown sugar, well packed [220g]
2 tablespoons cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ cup boiling water
5 cups all-purpose flour [875g] (I found this to be 625g)

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.

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Mix to make a stiff dough. If necessary add more water, a tablespoon at a time. Chill 2 hours or overnight. (Mine went very hard after chilling overnight).

Cut patterns for the house, making patterns for the roof, front walls, gabled walls, chimney and door out of cardboard.

Update: Click my link for my template

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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.

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For the tiles on the roof - Use a small circle cutter to make semi circle indents in the dough before backing

For the tiles on the roof - Use a small circle cutter to make semi circle indents in the dough before baking

Y’s notes: [I rolled out the dough on a floured bench, roughly 1/8 inch thick (which allows for fact that the dough puffs a little when baked), cut required shapes and transferred these to the baking sheet. Any scraps I saved and rerolled at the end.]

Preheat the oven to 375’F (190’C). 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.

I quickly cut out the roof when the gingerbread was cooked and placed it on a curved piece of carboard to get the curve

For the roof I quickly cut out the roof when the gingerbread was cooked and placed it on a curved piece of carboard to get the curve for the roof

Royal Icing:

1 large egg white
3 cups (330g) powdered sugar (I used a little less)
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.

Simple Syrup:(I didn’t use this, and assembled everything with the royal icing)
2 cups (400g) sugar

Place in a small saucepan and heat until just boiling and the sugar dissolves. Dredge or brush the edges of the pieces to glue them together. If the syrup crystallizes, remake it.

My photos of the assembly: (using lots of royal icing)

Place all decorations and piping on before assembling

Place all decorations and piping on before assembling

I did one wall first (held up by a glas as it is a leaning wall) then the back of the house.

I did one wall first (held up by a glass as it is a leaning wall) then the back of the house.

Pipe royal icing on the plate and the sides of the wall before placing walls in place. Pipe extra royal icing in the inside of the house. Make sure the walls are stable before attempting to put the roof on.

Pipe royal icing on the plate and the sides of the wall before placing walls in place. Pipe extra royal icing in the inside of the house. Make sure the walls are stable before attempting to put the roof on.

Pipe royal icing on all the edges the roof will attach to. Place roof on top and hold in place until stable.

Pipe royal icing on all the edges the roof will attach to. Place roof on top and hold in place until stable.

Pipe lots of royal icing on the remaining piece of roof, as you won't be able to pipe any more on the inside. Hold in place until stable.

Pipe lots of royal icing on the remaining piece of roof, as you won't be able to pipe any more on the inside. Hold in place until stable.

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80 Comments

  1. anna says:

    Your house is sooooo cute!!! The curved shape is really neat and the little snowman family is adorable! Great job!

  2. Karen says:

    Omg your house is so adorable and the colours are so sweet! I love the curvy roof and your snowmen especially!

  3. Ruth says:

    Congrats! It is really an unusual and beautiful gingerbread house.

  4. jo says:

    Your gingerbread house looks absolutely fabulous. You’ve done a great job here. Love the entire decoration and the snowmen look so cute. Have a happy hols.

  5. Great job on the curved roof – it even has shingles! I love your decorated chimney too.

  6. That is so cute! I saw that BH&G house when I searched for some inspiration and thought that it looked amazing. I wanted to make the snowmen but ran out of time and creativity and didn’t know if I could manage the curved roof so I went with something more rustic. This is brilliant!

  7. Anita, this is the prettiest gingerbread house ever! For a first-timer, it’s a great effort. Love the colour scheme, and the marshmallow snowmen are just perfect with it.

  8. Y says:

    Seriously, I’m in awe. That’s a stunning house. I especially love the curved roof (and the way you applied a pattern to it) and the snowmen. 🙂

  9. Parita says:

    Your house looks gorgeous!

  10. Trissa says:

    Hey Anita – just saw Y’s tweet about your beautiful house and now I can see why she has choosen it! Absolutely great job. The marshmallow men look to cute to eat!

  11. deeba says:

    JUST AWESOME! This is a winner…what a gorgeous house you made. Every detail is stunning! WOW!!

  12. Rosa says:

    Your house is so pretty and perfect! I love the dainty decorations! Wow, mindblowing

    Happy Holidays and best wishes for the New year!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  13. Bea says:

    Your house is so cool!!!… thanks for sharing the step by step….. I was wondering how you made curved the roof!!!!

    Its the best I ve seen until now!!!!

    Regards and Happy Holidays

    B

  14. Your house is really one of the most beautiful I have seen these weeks! Congratulations!
    Francijn

  15. Devona says:

    Your house is so doggone adorable. You did a fantastic job.

  16. Barbara says:

    OMG! Your gingerbread house is perfectly adorable! I’m really impressed! I could never have the patience to do one. Even when my kids were little. Cookies, yes. Houses, no.

  17. Jamie says:

    Love your house and the shape and the decorations are just beautiful! Fantastic job!

  18. amber says:

    What a fabulous house! I can’t believe you were able to curve the roof so easily….and yes the scarves and mittens are adorable. Great job!

  19. Jeanne says:

    You did an amazing job! I love the curved roof and the window decorations. The scarves and gloves on the snow men are so cute!

  20. chef_d says:

    beautiful! what an adorable snowman family 🙂

  21. Michelle says:

    This is seriously the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. AMAZING!!!

  22. Holly says:

    What an Awesome Gingerbread house! You did a splendid job. I did not have time to make a gingerbread house. I’ve been wanting to make one for years. Maybe now that the Holiday Rush is over?? Love your snow mans!

  23. That is a beautiful house! I love it–it’s so sweet and pretty. I love the pattern in the roof–you did such a great job!

  24. Sue says:

    I can’t believe this is the first time you’ve made a gingerbread house! You’re a natural talent! Your house is so, so, so darling! I love all of the details! Phenomenal job!

  25. Alli says:

    what a beautiful gingerbread house, you have done an amazing job!

  26. lori says:

    I love, love, LOVE your house!!! Cooling the roof pieces on curved cardboard is brilliant! And the little details all around are impressive – especially the little holly leaves on the windows. Well done!!!

  27. Lauren says:

    I love love love your house! The curved roof is utter perfection, and the decorations are adorable!

  28. Renee says:

    oh my god Anita it is so gorgeous!!! You have done such a wonderful job.

  29. grace says:

    wow. this is the most realistic and appetizing gingerbread house i’ve ever seen, and i’m not exaggerating. masterful work!

  30. Your gingerbread house looks spectacular. The curved roof is perfect!

  31. Wow, what feat, I’m in awe! Yours is definitely one of the best ones I’ve ever seen!

  32. Tara says:

    Your house is absolutely stunning! Your effort and patience really paid off!

  33. Marcellina says:

    Fabulous house! What a work of art. Spectacular!

  34. Shashi says:

    That house is really beautiful – I love the texture of the roof, and the snowmen are so charming.

  35. Jill says:

    I love the shape of your house and roof! The colors are so great and those snowmen are ADORABLE!! Well done!! 🙂

  36. JennyBakes says:

    This is so spectacular – everything has this element of perfection in it, and I think that your hint of trimming down after baking is genius. I loved your curved roof, so complicated, but it really paid off!

  37. kristen says:

    absolutely lovely gingerbread house. it could not have come out cuter. well done!

  38. Aparna says:

    Gingerbread and royal icing was a first for me too. 🙂 Your house looks so pretty. I especially love your family of snowmen.
    Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for a very Happy New Year!

  39. Beautiful job, I just love your snow people. Your house is so cute and creative.

  40. Cakelaw says:

    What a cute gingerbread house – and the snowmen are absolutely adorable!! Merry Xmas and Happy New Year!

  41. Angelica says:

    Great job !!! Your house is so cute.

  42. Laura says:

    I love your house! Especially the curved roof and the adorable snowmen 🙂

  43. Wow!!! This is just amazing! Your roof pieces are perfectly curved and the whole house is just adorable. Fantastic job!!

  44. mon says:

    I love love love your house!!!

  45. Anita, such a fantastic house. You did a great job. I’m in awe of your efforts. Love the little detail on the roof! 🙂

  46. Christi says:

    Beautiful! I love how traditional but unique it is. And the curved roof? Amazing!

  47. Steph says:

    Your gingerbread house is absolutely adorable. I am in love with it! All the tiny details are just perfect 🙂

  48. I love it – so cute! I especially love the snowmen decorations!

  49. Ellie says:

    What a super cute gingerbread house! I absolutely love the snowmen and your chimney!!

  50. Mary says:

    What a fantastic gingerbread house! The roofline is amazing, and your snowmen are so cute!

  51. MandyM says:

    Those snowmen are just too cute! Your house is amazing, the curved roof really is something else.
    I cut down on the amount of ground cloves and I’m happy I did, it would have been too much with the 3tsp, although the reason for the high amount is so that the house gives off a lovely fragrance in the house 🙂
    You’re also right about the amount of flour, it should have said 625g 🙂
    Beautifully done!
    All the best for 2010 🙂

  52. rachel says:

    Am glad you made this very pretty house! one of the prettiest I have seen around in the blogs.

  53. Namratha says:

    This is such a cute house, loved it. And the curve on the roof, perfect!

  54. Jenny Tan says:

    That is just WAAAYYY tooo CUTE!!! What an amazing job you did! Happy 2010!!! 🙂

  55. Your gingerbread house looks absolutely fabulous! Love the entire decoration and the snowmen looks so cute!

  56. Mum says:

    I agree with all the comments on how beautiful the gingerbread house looks!! Now the most difficult part – breaking it apart to eat it!!

  57. Allison says:

    Your house is so adorable! I love the scarves and hats that your snowmen are wearing.

  58. Mother-in-law says:

    What consummate artistry! Not only do your recipes taste magnificent, they are so spectacularly presented and you supply such superbly detailed illustrated instructions for others to follow. Having enjoyed some of the featured recipes, I can vouch for their mouth-watering deliciousness. You now hold the record for many of the finest and best versions of what I have tasted so far. Keep up the good work, Anita.
    Happy New Year and congratulations on a very professional blog

  59. fairy_mi says:

    Wow, what a fabulous gingerbread house!
    Great shape and lovely decorations!
    Those snowmen are amazing 🙂
    Wtg for the fabulous job!
    Inbal
    (also a DB)

  60. Kelly says:

    I really like the bend in your roof. Nice touch!

  61. Andreas says:

    That’s a beautiful house. For everyone a little less talented, check this out: http://www

  62. Zoe says:

    Lovely, lovely, lovely house. !!! May have the tempate for the gingerbread house. Thanks in advance. 🙂

  63. Lorie says:

    Love your house .. would you PLEASE share your measurments so i can construct one like this too 😀 ?????
    Loxox

  64. Joanne says:

    Can you share with me how you made the snowman? I have a work competition and will be making my gingerbread house tomorrow night. Thanks!

  65. Lorie says:

    Thanks for the email .. today is the day .. fingers crossed 😀 Merry Christmas . Loxox

  66. holly says:

    can i please steal the measurements from you 🙂 your house is amazing and im making one as we speak :):)

  67. Jodie says:

    Hi – what a wonderful gingerbread house, the best I’ve ever seen! Could you please share the measurements with me as I’d love to make it this year for my grandson 🙂

  68. justin says:

    Hello it looks amazing, is there any chance i can steal the measurement 😀 so excited to attempt one as great as yours

  69. Annie says:

    Just saw your most amazing house and I’m now inspired to make my first ginger bread house, however I do have one question. What is the measurements for your ginger bread house? Just so I can make the template.
    Thankyou.

  70. Leah says:

    My family does a friendly gingerbread house competition every year. I was just looking around for ideas and I love this house! Can you send me the measurements and directions? I would LOVE to make this house! Thanks!

  71. brook says:

    wow looks awsome:)

  72. Erin says:

    that house is amazing a made a house based on it and everybody loves it!!
    p.s thanx a ton 🙂

  73. Ashleigh says:

    is there any chance of getting a template or clear measurements for this amazing masterpeice? would love to use the shape for my house this year?

  74. Neet says:

    how did u make the snowmen?

  75. Kathy McGuirk says:

    Hi, I love your gingerbread house. Can you e-mail me the template, how you made the snowman and the chimney? Thank you.

  76. Stace says:

    I would like the template for this house if possible? I want to attempt one all hand made too, and I love this curved design and I cannot find a template lol
    Please please 🙂 if you even get this, its been a couple of years!

  77. Maria says:

    I would love to get the pdf of the template please?

  78. lezly says:

    What a charming house! Love the color scheme and the curved, shingled roof.

  79. elly says:

    Hi Anita,

    I love your work!! Is there any chance that I can have a copy of the template of the gingerbread house that you made way back in 2009? It is by far the prettiest house I have seen. Congratulations to you!

    Best wishes

    Elly

  80. Anita says:

    Hi Elly,
    The template can be found here:
    http://leaveroomfordessert.com/gingerbread-house-template/
    Hope this helps

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