Sunday 27 December 2009

Daring Bakers December 09 Challenge: 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 was so excited by this challenge as for the last three years at Christmas I have been telling myself that I would make a gingerbread house and yet one never materialised. So when Decembers challenge was announced as a gingerbread house I knew this year would be THE year.

Rather than attempt a big gingerbread house I decided to halve the recipe and make a smaller version to adorn the top of my Christmas cake. We had the choice of two recipes but I went for Anna’s recipe choice from Good Housekeeping as I know and trust their recipes. The recipe can be found here.

The side walls for my gingerbread house I cut 8 x 8cm square and the front and back I cut 8 x 12 but then cut two diagonal middle points from the 8-12 cm height to create the middle points on which the roof would sit. The two roof pieces I cut 12 x 8 so that they would overhang the walls a little on each side rather than fit snugly on top. It sounds complicated but in practise it’s quite straightforward.

A few people on the forums were saying that the dough was rather dry and crumbly, and following other peoples advice I left my dough overnight in the fridge before using it and had no problems with it. I also cut out a little door from the scrapes to attach later in order to make it stand out more.

When you want to decorate the house you need to do it while all the pieces are still flat and separate. If you try and pipe icing onto an assembled house it will be very tricky and the icing will probably run where you don’t want it to. I piped on a few windows and attached the door and stuck on a wreath I had made out of fondant. I wanted the roof to look like it was tiled and I discovered that using large chocolate buttons was ideal as they were light enough not to add too much weight and blended in well with the rest of the house. I simply piped on lines of royal icing and then stuck the buttons on top, slightly overlapping them. I think it gives a good effect.

Assembling the walls and roof of the house was rather fiddly. I glued all the walls together first using royal icing and simply held them in place until the icing was dry enough to support itself. The roof was more tricky as it was set against the sloping sides and gravity naturally made it slide down. In the end I solved this problem by propping up the roof on either side with the weights from my weighing scales. I left it well alone for several hours until the icing glue had dried hard before nervously removing the weights…hurrah it worked! The roof felt quite sturdy and well attached. I had some mini snowflake sprinkles and decided to add these along the top edge of the roof to resemble crenulations which I think was a nice finishing touch.

After covering my Christmas cake in marzipan and fondant I simply placed the gingerbread house on top and decorated the surrounding cake with a few trees and an adorably cute snowman I made out of leftover fondant. I wanted the house to look like it belonged on in the scene, rather than just plonked randomly on top of the cake. I also added a little snowflake path and gave everything a light dusting with icing sugar. I love the look of it on the trees and rooftop, it makes it look as though there has been a light snowfall and very festive. I could almost imagine a little family sitting inside, enjoying Christmas day.

Thanks Anna and Y for choosing such a fun and festive challenge. Click to see a list of fellow Daring Bakers and their gingerbread houses.

For anyone who remembers me soaking the fruit and baking the Christmas cake a few weeks back, here is what it looks like after we cut into it on Christmas day. Packed full of sweet and moist fruits, some chewy, some soft or tangy and the occasional little crunch from the dried figs. The cake was light and nicely spiced with the odd nugget of an almond.


natalie said...

What a nice gingerbread house. I like the tiled roof. I d like to make one someday. The snowman is so cute! That fruit cake looks more than delicious :)

Angela said...

What a lovely house, Katie! The huge chocolate buttons make fantastic roof tiles---I'll have to remember that for next year. You've done a great job of integrating it into the cake. Well done, and Merry Christmas!

Monica H said...

This is too cute! I love your mini house on the cake. And I think you're pure genius for putting it on a fruitcake since it will keep for a while without drying out.

Great job. I'm going to have to borrow some of your ideas for next year.

Johanna GGG said...

gorgeous house, gorgeous cake - love the idea of combining them and I love your tiles and snowflakes - hope you had a nice christmas

mdeals said...

I just love your art. You did a awesome job..

Meeta K. Wolff said...

oh how cute is this. love it that you used it to decorate the cake! brilliant!

anna said...

Adorable! I love that you used it as a cake decoration (and that cake looks really tasty too).

The Caked Crusader said...

looks like you've been busy! Love your house and your Christmas cake

Natalie said...

I love the idea of a gingerbread house as cake decoration :) has a purpose :))
The fruit cake sounds delicious.. I'll have to save the recipe for next year.

Happy Holidays :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That is a pretty house! I love the ideaof putting it on the cake!

Best wishes for 2010!



Little Monarch said...

oh gosh what a wonderful house AND cake!

steph- whisk/spoon said...

what a wonderful decoration for a christmas cake! happy new year!

Hilary said...

What a picture perfect house! I've given up on DB, but this is definitely a great challenge.

Gigi said...

i love that you put your gingerbread house on your christmas cake! too cute! did you eat the house? i bet it was delicious.

Nic said...

That is beautiful Katie! A lot of patience by the looks of it!

limo hire said...

Its looks pretty.. great art.

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