"Away in a manger..."
The December Daring Bakers' challenge is...GINGERBREAD! I was so happy when the December challenge was revealed! Grandiose ideas danced around in my head... Noah's Ark, a cute little bakery featuring all the goods, a barn with every barnyard animal, or even a garden shed which would include a garden, cute little vegetables, and a scarecrow! Perhaps someday, but as you can see I decided on a humble, simple little structure...a manger:)
"No crib for a bed..."
The simplicity of this construction worked well for me...I had Christmas cookie orders to deal with for the first time, and I had the stomach flu the weekend before Christmas. Thank goodness it was short-lived!
I chose Y's Scandinavian recipe. I added a little bit more boiling water than was called for, and though it was pliable enough to work with, it baked up pretty cracked and dry:( (I had some of my favorite gingerbread dough already in the fridge, so supplemented with that.)
I basically just cut 6" squares from the gingerbread for the walls and then cut out the various pieces that I needed for the structural flourishes. Of course, it's all edible: gingerbread, cinnamon sticks, frosted mini wheats, sanding sugar(for the star), and royal icing(which I should have added brown food coloring to). The tallest point is 11", it's 5 " deep and 7" wide. A humble abode, for sure:)
I have loved looking at the other amazing gingerbread creations! Everyone did such a great job! What is Christmas without gingerbread, right? THANKS so much to Y and Anna for a wonderful December challenge!!!
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]
1. 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. Mix to make a stiff dough. If necessary add more water, a tablespoon at a time. Chill 2 hours or overnight.
2. Cut patterns for the house, making patterns for the roof, front walls, gabled walls, chimney and door out of cardboard.
3. 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.
4. [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.]
5. 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.
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.