Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Daring Bakers: Gingerbread Houses



Gingerbread Houses--one of my favorite Christmas traditions!

When I found it was this months Daring Bakers Challenge, I began planning immediately how I would fit it into my schedule. But before I get into those details, let me introduce our two fabulous hostesses!

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.

A few days later I had a client ask if I was selling Gingerbread Houses on my holiday menu this year. I explained that although it wasn't on my menu, I'd be happy to make one for her to purchase. It worked out great, since I was already planning to purchase the supplies (candy) for one house, what is one more? And then I had a second client order another house as well. I used my long-time favorite family recipe for my client's gingerbread houses, since I knew exactly how the dough would turn out.

I set aside a few hours and began to make what ended up being three batches of my favorite gingerbread dough and one batch of Y's recipe. I decided to try Y's recipe because I was intrigued by the Scandinavian dough that didn't have any molasses in it and my recipe did. Y's recipe yielded a bit more than I had expected, so I made a large house and a smaller house; turning the three gingerbread houses into four!

Gingerbread House for Client #1:



Gingerbread House for Client #2:



My favorite aspect of creating desserts is the decorating part of the process. I enjoyed every single minute and hour in creating those gingerbread houses for my clients, but I was antsy to begin work on my own house. Finally after about four or five days of being extremely busy with Jillicious Desserts orders, I was able to start construction on my houses.

Jill's Gingerbread Village (I don't know if two houses make a village, but it has a village-like feel to the scene):



I really enjoyed creating these houses and I probably went a little picture crazy, but I just wanted to share all the fun details from this project.

Large Gingerbread House:



[Close up view of front door.]



[Windows made from melted butterscotch candy pieces. I used a battery-operated tea light inside the house. It fit easily through the front door and the light flickered through the candy windows.]



[Star is also made from butterscotch candy pieces & the Christmas lights are chocolate covered sunflower seeds. They were the perfect outdoor light shape!]



[The roof is made out of chocolate frosted mini-wheat cereal.]



[The rocks on the chimney are chocolate candies--I love how they look like real rocks. One of my favorite elements are the candy cane trees that I found at one of the supermarkets while searching for candy.]



[Every gingerbread house I've made over the years always has some sort of peppermint candies on it; this one has mini candy canes and the round peppermint candies.]



[Aerial view of large house and Santa with all nine reindeer.]



The second part of my gingerbread project was the Bake Shop. This was probably my favorite house to create, because I had nearly a week to decide what I wanted to do with it. I made several small, very small bake shop items and most of them you can look through the door and see them in the shop. Next year, I may have to make another one, but larger, so it's easier to see inside.

Jill's Gingerbread Bake Shop:



[Notice the door with the open sign on the Bake Shop; in honor of the Jillicious Online Bake Shop that opened earlier this month.]



[This is the only picture I took while putting the houses together. I got so involved in the process, I completely forget to take step-by-step pictures. This was taken before the front and roof was attached.]



[All of these were made out of fondant and the writing was from an edible ink food pen. They were so much fun to make and I just love how cute they turned out!]



[The roof was made from Christmas hard candies, something I remember getting in my stocking every year as a kid. I really had to track this candy down and finally found them in the fifth store I went to.]



[View from the large house--one of my favorite views of Santa.]



[Santa, his sleigh and the reindeer were all made from fondant. The trees are made out of chocolate, each layer piped separately, then attached with chocolate to create the tree shapes.]



[More Santa pictures, because he is just so dang cute!]



[View from the back of the houses.]



Now for the recipe! I was pleasantly surprised at how good this gingerbread dough tasted; especially since it didn't have molasses and I was worried at the amount of cloves it had in the recipe, but it was really good.

Thanks for sharing it Y!

*My notes are in green.

Y's Recipe:
Scandinavian Gingerbread (Pepparkakstuga)
from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas

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. *I chilled my batch for about 2 hours and it was enough time.

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. *I used a really good technique I've used for years with gingerbread dough. Line the baking sheet with foil and place the dough in the middle. Using a regular rolling pin, roll the dough from the middle to all four corners, until the dough is evenly rolled out. The dough should be smooth and even (see pictures below).

4. 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. *After 15 minutes, remove the foil from the pan, with the gingerbread still on it and carefully move the pieces to a cooling rack.



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.

Simple Syrup:
2 cups (400g) sugar

Place in a small saucepan and heat until just boiling and the sugar dissolves. Dredge or brush the edges of the pieces to glue them together. If the syrup crystallizes, remake it. *I didn't use the simple syrup, but many Daring Bakers said it worked really well.



I wish you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

116 comments:

  1. WOW! Your gingerbread houses are spectacular!!! Incredible details, I just love all of them! The interior of the bakeshop is so cute! Really well done!!!! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. What masterpieces, who would have thought gingerbread houses could be so incredible? Beautiful pieces of art!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Amazing! Your gingerbread houses turned out so great!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Gorgeous houses! And so much detail, they look so lovely it would be difficult to eat them :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. OMG What a great job you did! Amazingly detailed and so so beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Your work looks adorable, congratulations! Merry christmas!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow! Awesome job on your houses. Great that you could make some dough off a couple of them too! I love the use of candy for your decor and the inside, so cute! Merry Christmas to you also!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh my gosh. Jill, they're fantastic!! I love the detail, and the inside of your bakeshop is priceless. So fun!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh my gosh, you've outdone yourself! I love all the photos and details! My favorite is the little baking scene...that is just so, so cute! :) I am now inspired and may just try something like that! Kudos to you for a phenomenal job..your clients will love their houses!

    (I must have missed something because I didn't realize we could post early this month-I have seen multiple posts-but it makes perfect sense!)

    ReplyDelete
  10. These are incredibly impressive. I love the little bake shop and the rock candies make such a nice touch to the chimneys. Awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  11. You went nuts! They are beautiful and so perfect. I didn't realize that we had from today to the 27th to publish the challenge so my heart skipped a beat when I saw your post. I made few houses for a kid's party but the one I will make for the challenge is still in the planning.

    Wonderful job!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Amazing gingerbread houses! I've never seen anyone create an inside the house. Too cute!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Aaaawwwwwwwww! Cute is the right word to describe your creation! Will you post your favorite gingerbread recipe? This was my first go at a gingerbread house, but I'll definitely be making more next Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am in awe! that is amazing! I love your santa! congratulations on an incredible challenge!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Absolutely beautiful! What works of art! But I have to say I'm not surprised, I always love what you do! Congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
  16. WOW! They look absolutely amazing! Great job! I love all the pieces in the "bake shop"
    Jakobi

    ReplyDelete
  17. That's awesome Jill!!! Love all the houses, esp. Santa and his reindeer!! I still haven't work on mine! :P After all the holiday baking...I'm feeling soooo lazy! :P Will try to get to in soon...or might just make it w/ the kids on Christmas day! ;)

    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Betty Crocker would be so proud! Seriously, these are amazing! You make it look so easy. I don't think that I possess the patience, enery or creativity needed to build a gingerbread house. I love them though.

    ReplyDelete
  19. oh wow!! Amazing job, this would have to be the best gingerbread house I have ever seen!!!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Oh, Jill. I think you get the prize for the most absolutely adorable gingerbread house(s) I've ever seen. I love Santa--what a face! Thank you for sharing this with us!

    Merry Christmas, Jill. I'm looking forward to more of your adventures!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Wow all your gingerbread houses are gorgeous! I can't choose which one looks best :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Wow! Very cool....but I could do better. Just kidding!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Lovely Gingerbread House! Love it :)
    Merry Christmas from rainy Ireland!
    Lots of presents from Santa, yummy Christmas feast and have a great time with your family and friends :)
    Cheers! Anula.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Words cannot describe how much I love your houses! From the snowman with the gimpy smile, to the mini reindeers, the tiny sugar canister and little Santa. Omg I'm dying from squealing :P

    ReplyDelete
  25. A village,a bake shop? am completely wordless... happy holidays :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Your gingerbread houses are fantastic! I'm especially jealous of your icicles. I really wanted to try those.

    ReplyDelete
  27. These are really adorable houses. I love the rock candy on the chimney flume. Very nice. I also love the little cooking supplies. I bet the clients were happy. I certainly would be!

    ReplyDelete
  28. These are wonderful! How beautiful. I'm sure your clients were very happy. I also noticed that you rolled the gingerbread quite a bit thicker than I did. Does this work better than thinly rolled?

    ReplyDelete
  29. Oh. My. Gosh. Your "stonework," your bakery scene, that colorful candy roof... All amazing! Fantastic job!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Jill, you SO set the bar..I'm completely awed and incredibly humbled. I won't have mine up until the 27th, IF it doesn't fall apart when I try to construct the decorated pieces. I'm definitely NOT a gingerbread house person LOL BUT, my god, your houses and the landscape should be in a 5th ave X-Mas window! AMAZING job, chicky!!

    ReplyDelete
  31. This is an amazing range of gingerbread houses! When I see yours, I can see why you make these for clients and why I don't lol. An exceptionally brilliant job Jill! :D

    ReplyDelete
  32. Wow I love all of them! They look gorgeous!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Utterly Gorgeous! I have to admit to being in awe at your candy making skills. Your spiral candy can trees are making me drool. Great idea for making chocolate pine trees too. Plus your mini sleigh and reindeer are too adorable. You did an exceptional job on your icing work. Awesome Job!

    It makes me want to make another house! Ha! Ha! My kids would like that too!

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

    ReplyDelete
  34. OMG your gingerbread house or should I say houses look absolutely beautiful. What a lot of effort you have put into this. Truly amazing and wishing you a happy new year as well.

    ReplyDelete
  35. WOW!
    Your gingerbread houses are amazing!
    I'm speechless
    this is just adorable all the small details and the candy rock - BEAUTIFUL

    Happy Holidays :)

    ReplyDelete
  36. You are so talented - I wish I could look at those houses up close and admire all the details! Especially the fondant bake shop stuff - soooo cute.

    ReplyDelete
  37. The detail on your houses is impressive. I like the sunflower lights! I may have to make another gingerbread structure next year -- it's addictive.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Thanks for your comment on mine - and happy I've discovered yours! Now I see what a true masters could look like. I love the roof idea from cereal, the candy walkway, the candy roof...well, all of it! Your talent is astounding.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Your village is amazing. Amazing! And if the exteriors aren't impressive already, you even have a kitchen in one of them! Utterly amazing. Did I already mention the word Amazing? Let's just say I'm in awe, and leave it at that :P

    ReplyDelete
  40. Wow Jill! The detail on these houses are amazing. Absolutely love the little touches like the lolly wreath and the kitchen with all the baking supplies. And santa and his reindeer..absolutely stunning! I am definitely in awe too :)

    ReplyDelete
  41. I'm speechless. Well, almost...I love these! I love the rock chimney and all of the cute stuff inside! You are so talented! I'm sending my mother-in-law and sister-in-law over to take a peek too. :0)

    ReplyDelete
  42. Your gingerbread houses are just so beautiful (you made so many!) and the village scene is perfect. I'm floored!!!

    Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for a very Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
  43. I am thoroughly impressed you did an amazing job, and how fun that you could incorporate your work and the challenges. I just love the santa and your inside baking scene in the bake shop, so cute!

    ReplyDelete
  44. You've outdone yourself.:)
    Love the cute kitchen.

    ReplyDelete
  45. I'm so in love with your houses! I'm totally inspired for next year!

    ReplyDelete
  46. WOW!! These are all SO impressive... the details are amazing! Way to take on the challenge!

    ReplyDelete
  47. Wow... Your gingerbread houses look phenomenal! I especially like the colored lights made out of chocolate covered sunflower seeds... Cute!

    ReplyDelete
  48. Wow! Your house is so ornate and beautiful, it's simply stunning! That's the kind of piping work that I can only dream of doing myself. I especially love the icicles. :)

    ReplyDelete
  49. Your houses are gorgeous! You are so talented. I love them all... but especially the bake shop and everything inside it. Wow! Hope you had a very merry Christmas!

    ReplyDelete
  50. omggg, this is fantastic! i love all the little details: santa, peppermint tree, fondant kitchen... you've done a spectacular job on the challenge!

    ReplyDelete
  51. Your gingerbread houses are absolutely beautiful! The details are stunning. Love it.
    Happy holidays to you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
  52. All I can say is WOW. -A big WOW. That is a lot of gingerbread! Amazing work, incredible details!
    Best wishes for 2010

    ReplyDelete
  53. holy cow you have some talent! i think my mouth was hanging open when your pics loaded. i can't get over your bake shop. super duper cute. fabulous job on this challenge for sure. hope that you had a happy holiday.

    ReplyDelete
  54. I popped over here after you left such a nice comment for me and I just love the gingerbread houses you made! Your fondant figures are amazing... definitely a skill I wish I had. I really enjoyed reading... I'll be back!

    ReplyDelete
  55. Wow, amazing! Both houses are so pretty and really well-decorated! You are very talented!

    Best wishes for 2010

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    ReplyDelete
  56. Your houses are beautifuls!!!!!!
    I love the coloursand the details. Thanks for your comment, you are very nice. Today it's not raining but the forescast it's no good....I wait...
    Un saludo, Begoña

    ReplyDelete
  57. What amazing houses, all of them and all the gorgeous things inside and the three D Christmas trees! Incredible.

    ReplyDelete
  58. What a gorgeous pair of gingerbread houses! I love your candy cane trees and Santas' sleigh.

    ReplyDelete
  59. wow. .those are fantastic and so professional looking with all the intricate details...
    just gorgeous!

    ReplyDelete
  60. Wow! Awesome job on your houses! Jill, they're fantastic!! I love the details!..thank you im feeling much better now! thanks for the sweet comments and dropping by! Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
  61. Hi! Thank you for the comment, my gb house isn't a patch on yours, they are awesome!

    I will be sure to check your blog again soon!

    ReplyDelete
  62. I'm nominating you the gingerbread house queen! Wow is all I can say, the houses are nothing less than stunning and the little kitchen scene just killed me!

    ReplyDelete
  63. OMG, Jill! These are so beautiful.... The best I have seen so far - very elaborate and festive! Nicely photographed too!

    Sawade from Bangkok,
    Kris

    ReplyDelete
  64. absolutely stunning. I adore all the pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Wowwww its spectacular.Each one is truly awesome.I guess these are the best ones i have seen so far.I loved it:).Fabulous one.

    ReplyDelete
  66. Your village is postively magical!!! Splendid job!!!

    ReplyDelete
  67. Amazing job! So intricate but also lovely!

    ReplyDelete
  68. Thanks Jill for ur kind words on my blog and thanks for stopping by iam speechless by seeing ur ginger bread house dear !!
    great job ...

    ReplyDelete
  69. There is so much to love here but I'm particularly enamored with the what you did the roofs

    ReplyDelete
  70. My jaw is on the floor. Incredible effort here -- the sheer amount of work, your creativity in general, and the detail...goodness! And CONGRATS for the opening of your business. Very inspirational :)

    ReplyDelete
  71. Beautiful work! I especially love the bakeshop and all the detail inside :)

    ReplyDelete
  72. Wow! You completely blow my mind! What an amazing artist you are! WOW! If you aren't famous already, well then, you should be.....

    ReplyDelete
  73. All your houses, and the decor around, are fabulous! The detail is just amazing. I console myself knowing you're a professional, because these are exceptional! :D

    ReplyDelete
  74. Wowow stunning job! Thanks for sharing :)

    ReplyDelete
  75. Oh my goodness. I was just scrolling through and cooing over how beautifully decorated your houses are [so colourful & intricate, and I love the icicles] and then I got to your little kitchen scene. It's completely adorable. I love stuff like this, when there's so much thought gone into the details .. right down to the dustings of flour and the little eggs. Absolutely gorgeous. :)

    ReplyDelete
  76. Wow--these are amazing! Your decorating skills are superb. I love the hard candies on the roof--that one must weigh a bit. The scene inside the bakeshop is adorable!

    ReplyDelete
  77. Incredible gingerbread houses! Beautiful detail on every one of them. Fantastic baking :)
    All the best for 2010!

    ReplyDelete
  78. Your houses are spectacular!!! I love the bakeshop and what a GREAT idea to use the candy-covered sunflower seeds for lights! Those candycane trees are too cute, too.

    ReplyDelete
  79. Absolutely stunning and by far the best gingerbread houses that I have ever seen! Such attention to detail. Great job!!

    ReplyDelete
  80. Bowing in your expertise. No wonder you picked this as a challenge, your houses are amazing. I can't beleive you did the fondant interior

    ReplyDelete
  81. I’m speechless, for this challenge you demonstrated you are a pastry chef, an architect and an interior designer, and a very nice person, thanks for your nice comment on my blog.
    I cannot say which one is my favorite because they all are gorgeous

    ReplyDelete
  82. Oh my.. Simply wonderful. Loved your small kitchen creation. Looks very cute and colorful. Good job!

    ReplyDelete
  83. I'm in love with the little kitchen accessories. OOOH and the swirlies in front of the house!

    ReplyDelete
  84. WOW your houses are absolutely gorgeous! So colorful and detailed. You've got skills!!! If you don't mind I'd love to link our Foodista readers to your post. Just add your choice of widget to this post and you're all set!

    ReplyDelete
  85. Why Jill thank you for your words which I found so encouraging. My house is nothing compare to yours, I'm just an amateur and you're a pro, an excellent one! Congratulations for yur beautiful houses and for your amazing blog, I've just started to take a look at it and I will try to learn from you as much as I can.
    A big hug from Spain!
    xxxoooxxx

    ReplyDelete
  86. What a gorgeous village!! You've gone to so much effort with detail it's amazing. I love the roof, chimney and cute bakeshop things too!

    ReplyDelete
  87. I'm just blown away . . . Really outstanding work. Creative, beautifully executed, charming--really remarkable.

    ReplyDelete
  88. you are very cute!!, kind with words I should say, how could you say mine were very festive, look at yours, OMG!!!, CUTE, OUTSTANDING, MASTERPIECE, look at those threads hanging!!, what a patience, beautifull, They are just out of the world I should say, well, I don't have any more words to describe, you are really amazing love, you have a lovely blog and i will be here often to see your creations !!, Thank you very very much for visiting my blog and leaving such lovely comments, after seeing yours, the comments really mean so much to me, thank you dear. love to see lot more of jilicious creations !!...

    ReplyDelete
  89. Oh Wow Jill these are amazing!!! Can't close my mouth!!!! Love every single one!!!

    Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.

    ReplyDelete
  90. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  91. You've had your hands full with the gingerbread houses! Great job, love the colorful decorations!!!

    ReplyDelete
  92. OMG...I don't even know what to say! This is simply awesome, you've done a fantastic job. The detail work is mind blowing!

    ReplyDelete
  93. My jaw dropped when I saw your beautiful houses. The detail and trimmings are just extraordinary! You really went all out!

    ReplyDelete
  94. Hi jill, back again!!, I am here again to wish you and your family a very happy new year, ahead, Looking forward and wishing you a very fruitful year ahead from your culinary skills

    ReplyDelete
  95. What an incredible amount of work you put into those lovely houses! I love every single one of them. Just gorgeous!

    ReplyDelete
  96. Oh MY!!! ALL of them are amazing! The Bake Shoppe is my favorite! :) Thank you so much for linking them up!

    ReplyDelete
  97. Wow, oh wow. Those houses are absolutely spectacular!! I love your miniature fondant additions too! Charming... :-)

    ReplyDelete
  98. Wowee! now I know who the gingerbread queen is...

    Your houses are AWE-some!

    ReplyDelete
  99. Wow. If you hadn't mentioned they were for clients, I would've said "You could sell those!" Absolutely gorgeous, and full of cute little details. I'm in love with the fondant pieces you made for the interior, as well as the fondant Santa!

    ReplyDelete
  100. Ciao ! I love your houses !!It's a pity you couldn't see the intern of the bake shop ! It's the cutest idea !! Happy new year !!

    ReplyDelete
  101. Wow, what a fabulous gingerbread house!
    Great shape, lovely decorations and beautiful colors-
    It truly is a Hanzel and Gretel house.
    Wtg for the fabulous job!
    Inbal
    (also a DB)

    ReplyDelete
  102. Wonderful job, great attention to detail!
    Love them all:)

    ReplyDelete
  103. You are seriously talented. Those look amazing! And the little kitchen with the fondant baking supplies and treats is the best. Great job!

    ReplyDelete
  104. your gingerbread houses are adorable and so well done!! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season, I know I've fallen off the face of the earth, i promise I'll get back to the world of blogging soon. I just wanted to thank you for your words of encouragement even when I haven't posted anything for ages - it's really amazing how sweet you are :)

    ReplyDelete
  105. UHM? AMAZING!!! Holy smokes woman those would take me months to make! How amazing :) xx

    ReplyDelete
  106. They are all gorgeous!! I really like the hard candy roof with the icicles the best.

    ReplyDelete
  107. Your houses are so pretty! Love those cute christmas trees!

    ReplyDelete
  108. All I can say is WOW! You did an incredible job! Thanks for sharing.
    ~ingrid

    ReplyDelete
  109. Oh my gosh ... seriously! I want to live in that house ... with all the little kitchen equipment you made, too! Love it! Happy 2010!

    ReplyDelete
  110. Jill - what GORGEOUS gingerbread houses! I love the hard candy shingles and the swirly frosting decoration. Amazing! Looking forward to seeing your January challenge!

    ReplyDelete