Monday, January 17, 2011

Gingerbread House and Recipe

Our first assignment in our Confections class was to make a gingerbread house. Here's mine above. What do you think? I had decorated a small house over Christmas break and it was pretty much completely covered in candy and frosting. I decided to go a little more upscale with this one since I had a whole week to work on it.

It's hard to determine scale in this picture but this is a pretty big house - about two feet tall! The roof shingles are made from Frosted Mini-Wheats. The windows are melted Jolly Ranchers. The chimney is covered in VERY thick royal icing (I could roll a bit up in my hand and stick it on like putty) so that the candy rocks stick on and don't just plop off. You could make the stones from brown jelly beans instead.

The house itself is glued together with Isomalt, which is a more stable form of sugar. You could use caramel but remember it is SUPER hot!!! I got a few blisters during construction. The benefit of the sugar over royal icing is that you don't have to wait so long for it to dry. If you do use royal icing then make sure to make it pretty thick and prop your walls against cans or other items while they dry (unless you have a couple hours to kill)

Here's a shot of the inside. I wanted to make it look like a dollhouse, where you can see all the furniture and everything. The couch is sculpted from rice krispie treats and covered in blue fondant.

Here's a shot of the Christmas tree (an ice cream cone covered in green royal icing) with all of the presents underneath (starburst). The rug is made of fondant that I stamped with a little design.

Here's a photo my house, all lit up, with the yard covered in "snow" (polyfill...or Stuffy Stuff, as I like to call it)
Below is the recipe we used in class and some tips. I'll see if I can find out where the recipe is from so I can give proper credit. For my house, I made a triple batch of the recipe below, but it should be plenty for your average-size house or cookies. Note that this gingerbread has a nice amount of heat/spiciness to it - which I enjoy. If you want something a little more kid-friendly, dial back on the ginger and clove and maybe omit the pepper.
Gingerbread Recipe:
  • 2 Sticks unsalted butter (8 oz)
  • 1 cup (packed) brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 6 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp ground ginger
  • 4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground clove
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1. Cream together butter and sugar, in stand mixer or by hand.
2. Add eggs, one at a time.
3. Add in molasses.
4. Sift all dry ingredients together and add to wet mixture.
5. Roll out to no less than 1/4 inch thick for gingerbread house or cut out cookies. For drop cookies, make 1-2 inch balls and squish down with fork or bottom of cup.
6. Bake at 350F until firm and darker brown.

Royal Icing Recipe
  • 3 oz egg whites (basically 3 egg whites)
  • 1 lb powdered sugar
1. Combine in stand mixer (or you can use a hand mixer for this one) and whip on high for about 3-5 minutes. Whipping it gives it a nice, fluffy texture so really go for it.
2. Add more or less powdered sugar, depending on what you are using it for (pretty thick for gluing things together, medium for piping icicles, thick for coating things).
3. When not using, cover royal icing with plastic touching the surface or a damp cloth over the bowl. Otherwise, royal icing dries out pretty fast and will form a crust (ick).
Some Tips:
For Houses:
  • It helps to roll out the dough to the desired thickness and then freeze it for 15 minutes or so to make it nice and firm. This helps create clean edges when you cut it.
  • Bake the gingerbread until pretty dark to make sure it is sturdy enough for building. You basically want to get a lot of the moisture out.
  • If you have a microplane grater, they are awesome for "sanding" the edges of your house to get nice clean lines.
  • For candy windows, bake the gingerbread pieces with the window holes cut out. After they are almost fully baked (maybe a little lighter than you ultimately want them), place the pieces on a sheet tray covered in either a Silpat mat or foil sprayed with Pam. Place crushed pieces of hard candy (Jolly Ranchers and Lifesavers work well) in the window holes and bake just until the candy is completed melted. Remove from oven and let cool completely before handling.
For Cookies:
  • To smoosh mine, I used a glass with a design carved into the bottom and the cookies kept the shape of the design while baking.
  • Orange pairs really well with ginger! I made a glaze for my cookies by combining water, orange zest, vanilla, and powdered sugar. I dipped the tops of the cooled cookies in the glaze and let them dry. The orange flavor intensified even more over the next day or so.
  • It's tricky to figure out when these are fully baked. I guessed, to tell you the truth. I think it depends on soft you want them to be. Mine were crunchy on the outside and softer in the middle. I cooked them for about 12-15 minutes.

1 comment:

Kirsten Lindquist said...

really stunning, and I love the inside too!