Sunday, December 27, 2009

Daring Bakers December '09

Wahoo! Closing out the year with a bang... and some clangs in the kitchen! This month's challenge was a lot of fun and very festive. I was so glad to hear that we would be baking gingerbread and making houses/cookies :)

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.

The rules for this DB challenge stated:

1. Everything needs to be edible - no glue or inner non-food supports allowed.

2. You must bake the gingerbread yourself, whichever recipe you choose. No graham cracker houses please!

3. You must use some sort of template. If you don't use ours, take a picture or link to what you do use in your final post. It doesn't have to be super technical - Anna didn't even measure hers, she just cut out shapes from parchment and made sure the edges matched up.

4. Your house must be able to stand on its own. If you want to go adding balconies with candy stick buttresses or whatever go right ahead, but the main house itself must be free-standing.

Gingerbread Creation

Ingredients (Dough):

- 2 1/2 cups (500g) packed dark brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups (360mL) heavy cream or whipping cream
- 1 1/4 cups (425g) molasses
- 9 1/2 cups (1663g) all-purpose flour

- 2 tablespoon(s) baking soda

- 1 tablespoon(s) ground ginger


1. In very large bowl, with wire whisk (or with an electric mixer), beat brown sugar, cream, and molasses until sugar lumps dissolve and mixture is smooth. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and ginger. With spoon, stir flour mixture into cream mixture in 3 additions until dough is too stiff to stir, then knead with hands until flour is incorporated and dough is smooth.

2. Divide dough into 4 equal portions; flatten each into a disk to speed chilling. Wrap each disk well with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until dough is firm enough to roll.

3. Grease and flour large cookie sheets (17-inch by 14-inch/43x36cm)

4. Roll out dough, 1 disk at a time on each cookie sheet to about 3/16-inch thickness. (Placing 3/16-inch dowels or rulers on either side of dough to use as a guide will help roll dough to uniform thickness.)

5. Trim excess dough from cookie sheet; wrap and reserve in refrigerator. Chill rolled dough on cookie sheet in refrigerator or freezer at least 10 minutes or until firm enough to cut easily.

6. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (149C)

7. Use chilled rolled dough, floured poster board patterns, and sharp paring knife to cut all house pieces on cookie sheet, making sure to leave at least 1 1/4 inches between pieces because dough will expand slightly during baking. Wrap and reserve trimmings in refrigerator. Combine and use trimmings as necessary to complete house and other decorative pieces. Cut and bake large pieces and small pieces separately.

8. Chill for 10 minutes before baking if the dough seems really soft after you cut it. This will discourage too much spreading/warping of the shapes you cut.

9. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until pieces are firm to the touch. Do not overbake; pieces will be too crisp to trim to proper size.

10. Remove cookie sheet from oven. While house pieces are still warm, place poster-board patterns on top and use them as guides to trim shapes to match if necessary. Cool pieces completely before attempting to assemble the house.

Royal Icing

- 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.

Since I have had experience making gingerbread houses and sleighs... I thought that this year I would branch out and try making a gingerbread boat. I figured that my creation fit into the respective guidelines, as a boat could be considered a house for a pirate! In my head I thought building a gingerbread boat would be fairly simple; however, I was completely mistaken :P During the process of building my pirate house I had to have many people/objects assist me in ensuring that the structure did not collapse upon itself... I suppose I was a bit impatient, and should have taken my time building the base structure before attempting to attach the "deck" but I am not one for being patient when it comes to gingerbread building. As the picture below reveals, a Toblerone bar is perfect for holding the back of the ship in place while the icing dries.

My ship and it's horrid decor... why are the waves made of peppermint? What is a snake doing in the ocean? Why are the cannons so exposed? Why does the mast not have a sail? Why are there no railings on the main deck?

Suffice it to say, I do not recommend that anybody ride on this ship as I'm sure it would not pass its safety inspection. And any poor gingerbread sailor/pirate who boards the USS Toblerone will probably meet a very mushy demise.


anjelikuh said...

Kudos for going the extra mile and making a boat! and LOL, the toblerone is a perfect addition to your ship.

Jeanne said...

How creative of you to build a boat! It looks wonderful, and I'm sure that the pirates don't care whether it has passed safety inspection!

Barbara Bakes said...

I love your USS Toberlone. Such a clever idea! Much more fun than house!

Michelle Dargen said...

Awwww!!! It's so cute!! I absolutely love it!!

kristenly said...

your boat (ahem.. the uss toblerone) is pretty great. very creative. well done on this challenge.

dollydoesdesserts said...

No way is it horrid! I think this is so cute! :D Gingerbread house, Gingerbread igloo.. hmm, gingerbread ship is the first! :D Great job. Have a great new year too!

natalia said...

Ciao !Your boat is lovely ! My dream is to live on a house boat ! I used simple syrup to glue my house it was much faster !!

s-j said...

I love your boat! Very creative!

Cakelaw said...

I think your boat looks fantastic! I'd be happy to sail on this good ship lollipop - great job.

sweetakery said...

love your boat! looks amazing! and yes they are all-sorts!! =)
thanks for the comments and dropping by! Happy New year!

Y said...

Awww but the USS Toblerone look so darn cute! :D

Winnie said...

Such a cute boat- very creative...nice job on the challenge!

Kathryn said...

Such a fantastic idea! Great job on your boat-- I'd definitely sail away on anything named after chocolate :-)

kat said...

I love the idea of a gingerbread ship!

Marcellina said...

Fantastic! USS Toblerone is just perfect. I love your commentary. So funny!

jessicajlee said...

Hilarious write-up!

Malin said...

That looks amazing! I actually thought about making a boat myself, but I chickened out in the last're making me wish I hadn't. o.O