This month’s Daring Bakers challenge was possibly the most memorable of all the challenges I’ve done since joining in August last year. I was slightly terrified that we would be given something like the six-part, twelve-page Buche De Noel from last December’s, but I was pretty excited to find that we would be making Gingerbread Houses, just in time for Christmas. It is something I have always wanted to do, but my engineering and construction skills leave much to be desired. They always seemed far too difficult and time consuming. And while they were both of those things, I learned that patience and planning pay off and this was a fantastic and totally rewarding challenge.
I ended up making two houses, because originally I was planning a traditional looking snow-covered house, and an Australian themed outback house, but I was discouraged when I couldn’t find a kangaroo shaped cookie cutter. But I still kept the front verandah, as I’d planned. I decorated the first house with the help of my Dad (it’s definitely a two-person project). For the second house, I helped my Mum with putting it together, but she got creative with the lolly jar and decorated it mostly by herself, complete with garden balcony and stained-glass window. It was nice to get everyone involved, and these would be especially fun to make with young kids.
I used Anna’s recipe for gingerbread, which was a little dry at first but I added a little more water and rested it for quite a long time so I didn’t have many problems with pieces shrinking. It was delicious, and a great base to work from. My sister and I made our own templates, although the second one was based on this one from BBC Good Food. The Royal Icing recipe called for too much icing sugar, in my opinion so I added it slowly until I felt it was the right consistency – a little under 2 cups of icing sugar, not the 3 cups the recipe stated. I’m not going to post the recipes here, but you can find them on the Daring Kitchen site.
I used various sweets for decoration – different flavoured candy canes, sugared jubes, M&M’s, and TeeVee Snacks to create a log cabin look. The chimney on the first house was a Milky Way chocolate bar, and the doors on the second were Tim Tam biscuits. I have to admit though, demolishing the house was a little hard to do. I was pretty proud of my first gingerbread house attempts and I didn’t want to eat them. But that’s half the fun, isn’t it!
There were some absolutely incredible gingerbread houses made by other Daring Bakers this month, it’s amazing what you can do with a few simple ingredients and some imagination! 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.