Sunday, December 27, 2009

December DB Challenge: Gingerbread Houses


Yeah.
Gingerbread houses. Such a fantastic WIN by Anna and Y - I've never made one, but they always looked like so much fun! Doing that Daring Baker thang is so worth it some months. I do have to admit, there was dissension in the ranks on this one though. Not from my mom, who had been notified that we were tasked with gingerbread house construction the day after I would arrive home, but from my dad. My mom was quite excited about the mixing and the chilling and the rolling and the baking, but my dad stood unimpressed through the whole ordeal.


You see, I get my baking from my mom, but I get my love of eating from my dad. Seriously, this man has two breakfasts every day! He is why I begin talking about lunch while eating breakfast, dinner while eating lunch, dessert while eating dinner, and breakfast the next day while eating dessert. This used to weird out the fiance, but he's luckily joined in the food-loving and meal-planning, so I've decided that I will actually marry him. As you might realize, he's rather relieved about this.


But getting back to the gingerbread house constructing, since that's sort of the point (right? that is the point, isn't it? because if all you really want from me is rambling, I am so there. I've got that part down.). While Mom and I are rolling and baking, Dad is hovering. "So when do we eat them?" "Well, you don't really want to eat them - they're a bit tough for that." "Well then what's the point?" I attempted to explain that decorating gingerbread houses is fun! and creative! and family friendly! but he just wasn't buying it.


So I hate to break it to all of you, but I gave up. I constructed and decorated my mini houses (based off of Not Martha's stencils), which by the way? WAY harder than you might think! You have to set one "door" piece on its face, and pipe lines of royal icing on the edges. Then you pick two "wall" pieces and set them on the royal icing, balancing them so they stand straight up, perpendicular to the table. Then pipe lines of royal icing on the back of the other "door" piece and set it on top of the walls. Slooooowwwwllly slide it out of the way while you assemble a few more houses, then test to see if the royal icing is dried and the four pieces are cemented together. If they are, set it upright and glue on one "roof" piece followed by the other. Weep because while you were careful in your cutting, your mother was not and every piece she cut ended up lopsided because she squished them in transferring them from cutting board to cookie sheet.


So yeah, sounds like fun, right? I must be crazy, because it seriously was. A baker's dozen of mini gingerbread houses later, I proudly looked at my mini village. Until, that is, my dad walked through and said, "I still don't get it." Sigh. Needless to say, I just cut my losses, decorated them, and took them home to Wisconsin with me. I think my desk at work needs a bit of belated Christmas cheer anyway!


Oh, oh! And the technical details - I used the gingerbread recipe recommended by Y, from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book. It was a bit spicy to actually eat, but smelled amazing while baking and assembling. The dough was a wee bit dry, so I probably dribbled in an addition tablespoon or two of water. It rolled out incredibly easily, and there was minimal shrinkage in the oven. All odd angles and mis-aligned pieces are due to my mom and my ineptitude when it comes to precision baking.


And now for something completely different! Christmas dinner was 100% chosen by me, and a 50/50 job with my Dad. Is there anything better than cooking and baking with parents? Because the Christmas cookies? Made 'em with Mom. So here was the menu:

Prime Rib with an Herb Crust (Serious Eats seriously pulled this one out for me - perfect medium rare, and a mere 1/4" of seared meat around the outside)
Roasted Beets with Orange, Thyme, and Rosemary (because I like having vividly pink fingertips, I swear)
Hashed Brussels Sprouts (for serious, it was the most. popular. dish this Christmas - whoda thunk? oohhh, and we added capers - definitely a good move)
Mashed Potatoes (because Christmas isn't Christmas without mashed potatoes)
Poached Pear and Almond Souffle Cakes (oh so wonderfully light after all of the dinner-type foods)

As for cookies? We had cinnamon almond cookies, chocolate ginger biscotti, and jam thumbprints around the house this week. I restrained myself from making macarons, sables, or anything else. Let me tell you, that was DIFFICULT. Only things that made it easier? Attempting to explain to my father why meringue powder was so necessary I had to cart it from Wisconsin to Indiana, while he tried to explain why he doesn't own a scale. Bad father. Bad, bad father.

In sum, a wonderful Christmas. I think I'll just ignore the high winds and freezing rain and the fact that the fiance was in Jamaica with his family (hee - it rained there half the time too...) and focus on what really mattered - family, friends, and food. So Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and lots of love to all!

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.

45 comments:

shaz said...

Too, too cute! They look very precise to my eye (I have serious trouble with straight lines). Happy holidays and best wishes for the New Year :)

Baking Soda said...

So utterly cute! The necessity of straight lines seems to elude me as well until I start sewing, modelling or constructing a gingerbread house.... There is use for precision baking! Love the village!

Y said...

Awwwww cuuuute! (and that's even B saying that, not me, when I showed him your gingerbread houses :) )
I really want to use this idea next year, as gifts. They look so good! I can't tell that any were lopsided at all (are you sure?!)

I was also going to say that I hope you had a great Christmas, but I think this post just proves that you already did :) x

Lien said...

This is just the coolest way to serve a gingerhouse, how inventive!!! Happy holidays!

Amanda said...

Jeez sounds complicted, but look how perfect they are! :)

Di said...

Your little gingerbread village is adorable. =) And your dinner menu and cookies sound delicious.

Ian said...

I did a co-cooking operation with my dad as well! And those houses are such a cute idea for coffee; I love it!

pinkstripes said...

It sounds like your Christmas was wonderful! I love that you made a whole village.

Anna said...

Anything that can balance on the edge of a teacup is awesome in my book! These are absolutely precious!

kellypea said...

They are SERIOUSLY cute! I always feel a bit sheepish when I see such cute renditions of a challenge that I hid under the rug over. I think I just suck at the holiday challenges. Cheers to you for making it such a success :)

natalia said...

Ciao Caitlin ! Lovely lovely village ! I used sugar syrup because with royal icing it was impossible !!Happy new year !!

Merche said...

you just left me without words with that fantastic gingerbread town of yours. And, it's a great pleasure to cook in family ;)

Julius said...

Gorgeous work!
Have a wonderful new year ahead!

Julius
from Occasional Baker

Chris said...

Wow! So creative! So Awesome! Great job. :)

Julia @Mélanger said...

Caitlin, these are just the most adorable gingerbread houses I've seen. I may just have to use this idea next year, myself! :)

Hope you had a lovely holiday!

Tartelette said...

You did a fabulous job with these! love the idea of the min village and the individual tea treat!

Lauren said...

Love the little houses Caitlin! They are simply adorable =D. Happy Holidays!

Jamie said...

Truly very cute. And too bad they are as delish as regular cookies because this is the perfect way to serve a cookie with a mug of coffee. Love that!

Janet Marie said...

How cute!

Suelle said...

Of the bloggers on my reading list who have undertaken this challenge, I think you would win the prize for the best presentation idea! I guess you would need to roll out the dough more thinly to keep things looking in proportion, which makes it even more challenging. Well done!

Karen @ Citrus and Candy said...

These are seriously to-die-for! You definitely take the prize for the most cutest and adorable - too precious!

veron said...

Such adorable ginger bread houses! Your dad reminds me of my family. Hubby used to be weirded out to with this constant thoughts of food but he has gotten used to it. :)

lostpastremembered said...

Adorable idea... they sound so good I wonder how long they stay there?

Shannalee said...

Really enjoyed this post - it made me chuckle. :) Love the way you interact with your parents, love that you and your mom made gingerbread houses together (although I lean towards your dad's point of view - you can't eat them!!??) and love your Christmas menu!

Food Gal said...

These are soooo adorable. Who wouldn't love to find a cute little house perched on the rim of their coffee or tea cup. I know I wouldn't.

strawberriesinparis said...

Those are precious! And isn't it amazing trying to put together dough walls with icing?? crazy! That dinner sounds great too.

Stephanie said...

Wow! Your houses came out beautifully. Great job!

steph- whisk/spoon said...

wow--must have been time-consuming, but boy are they freakin' cute! i think your mum did a fine job...i don't notice any wonkiness! happy new year to you!!

Esi said...

Love these! I haven't done my DB challenge yet, but wanted to do these little mini houses as well. Yours came out well so looks like the effort was worth it :)

ClumsyChemist said...

I adore the little houses! They are super cute and creative. God job!

http://lifelovechemistry.blogspot.com/2009/12/gingerbread-houses-dec-09-daring-bakers.html

Jenny said...

Wow, another great job! I bet these aren't any less difficult than a big house!

Jenny
http://purplehousedirt.com

Jill said...

These mini gingerbread houses are too CUTE!! I love how tiny they are! :)

ketchuptochutney said...

Oh my, these are adorable!!

I also saw you joined Shannalee's group for Project 365, Foodblogger-style. Awesome! Good luck!

culinography said...

These are so adorable! I think the miniature size only makes them MORE precious!

(My husband didn't really get the whole "this isn't gingerbread that you eat" thing either.)

pragmaticattic said...

Adorable!None of them look lopsided to me . . .

lisamichele said...

Oh wow, your mini houses are so cute and perfectly executed. None of them look lopsided AT ALL! Verrry well done, and Happy New Year!

Mary said...

I think your mini houses look great, and they certainly don't look crooked at all! I'm with your Dad on the 'why make it if it doesn't taste great' question, but I broke into my gingerbread igloo yesterday (5 days after finishing it) and it was pretty good. Spicy, but still soft and sweet enough with the icing. So, next year I might even try to design something rather than drape it over a bowl...or I'll make something else!

Angry Asian said...

absolutely adorable! it is amazing to me that you made an ENTIRE village and they're so cute to boot.

i'm kinda with your dad... while i enjoyed myself with this challenge, it did make me stop to think about the not eating it when i'm done factor...

Susan said...

Hands-down cutest thing I've seen this holiday season!

claireallison said...

Your houses are adorable! And I don't usually say that about baked goods. :)

I also love the picture with the house hanging on the teacup!

Judy said...

Oh, I absolutely adore your little houses, especially the one on the teacup. Wonderful! I actually baked the scraps and ate all of them. I loved the spiciness -- most gingerbread isn't spicy enough for me.

jacqui | happyjackeats said...

those houses are adorable!

WizzyTheStick said...

Hi, Just stumbled over here by way of lemonpi's blog. Great site and such pretty photos. How original to hang 'em on the cup like that! Couldn't possible make anything like that here because of the tropical heat. In no time they would be carried away by the ants. Happy New year to You and I plan to stop by often. All the best.

Jaime said...

oh my - your minis are too cute!!! i am so impressed w/how perfect each one looks :)

Sasha said...

These teeny tiny houses are brilliant! I'm thinking you would be a great contender in my Global Gingerbread Contest this year. It's a fun way to promote world peace and understanding. If you're interested, check out Global Table Adventure (dot) com... there's a link to all the info in the sidebar. Either way, nice work on these houses - you did a great job :)