Something about a Christmas Gingerbread house releases my inner child. Could it be all the colorful and surgary candy I use to dress the house? Maybe it's the scent of ginger, cinnamon & molasses wafting through the house that makes me think I'm in a candy store. It could also be that I can create somehting whimsical and unrealistic for the sheer enjoyment of doing it and looking at it. Whatever it is, my inner child eagerly came out to play for the December 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge because we've made gingerbread houses this month!
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 don't remember the first time I made a gingerbread house. I know by the time I was 14 years old, I was experienced enough to be able to make three houses in one Christmas (oh to be so young and energetic). Yes, that year I made one for our family, one for my best friend's mom, and one for my boyfriend. The boyfriend didn't last. My best friend is still around and now, I help her daughter Tristen make a gingerbread house each year (we've been doing it since she was 3 and she's 11 now). As Tristen gets older, she wants all creative control of her house (seems like she's taking after her "aunt" Kathy in this sense), so I haven't actually made my own gingerbread house for quite some time. Thanks to the Daring Bakers' I had a great excuse to create my own gingerbread house.
For this gingerbread house, I used the recipe from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book, which you can find here and here. (I adjusted the recipe by adding an egg for extra moisture, and replaced the water with dark molasses for color and scent.) I made my own forms, using manilla folders, then measured, cut, and taped the forms together to make sure the house would stand up. Something I do after a few house collapses.
I doubled the recipe for the gingerbread dough, as my house was a bit bigger than the model. This came in handy, as I had a mishap with one of the roof walls. After I had just "tiled" the roof with red icing, I dropped it and splattered it and the icing all over the floor. What a mess! But, the mess you make while making the house also helps to release your inner child.
It took a while to make, about 11 hours--which includes time to make the forms, mix, roll & bake the dough, assemble the house and decorate it. I tried to make it as childlike as possible and used a fair amount of candy and red, green and white royal icing to add more color. The gingerbread house fills our real house up with the scents of spices and sugary sweets as soon as you open the door. Thanks again Anna and Y for giving me an excuse to act like a child again.