Playing today with gingerbread. Maybe next year I'll make a gingerbread barn, chicken coop and bakery to go along with the house. This year, I'll stick with Freegrace Tavern and enjoy the mild weather while I can.
|Waiting on a few chimneys|
|The real deal.|
For the Gingerbread
5 cups all purpose flour
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1/2 cup milk.
1 tablespoon ginger
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
For the windows and glue
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon lemon
For the royal icing
1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons egg white powder
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
2 cups confectioner's sugar
For the gingerbread
•Cream together the brown sugar, butter and molasses until light and fluffy.
•Add the egg and beat until smooth and combined.
•Whisk together the dry ingredients for a minutes.
•Add half the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl until just combined. Add all the milk and mix until combined and then continue with the remaining dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
•Turn the dough out onto a work space and knead until the flour is complete integrated and the dough is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Prepare 2 to 3 sheet pans lined with parchment and preheat the oven to 375º.
For the windows
•Combine the sugar, water and lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the sugar is completely melted. Stop stirring and turn the heat to medium and attach a candy thermometer. Heat to 250º, making sure not to allow the sugar to caramelize. Keep the sugar pliable enough to spoon portions from the pot.
For the templates:
•For the front and back, I used a standard 8 x 11 sheet of paper and folded it in half to make the sides. I rolled the dough to 1/8 inch thick and carefully cut out the templates. I cut windows and doors according to where they are situated in our own home. I used the cut portions from the standard windows and cut in half lengthwise to use as shutters. Spoon a tablespoon of the hot sugar mixture into the window opening of each window.
•Bake the gingerbread at 375º for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool completely. I brushed the panels carefully with confectioner's sugar to give the panels a slightly white hue. If you do this, make sure you don't brush confectioner's sugar onto the sugar window panels.
•To assemble, place the hot sugar back onto the stove top, stirring constantly until the sugar becomes a light amber.
•Carefully remove the panels from the sheet pan. Carefully spoon caramel to coat the edges of the panels and hold the panels together for a few minute until the caramel hardens. I use bottles or boxes to use as supports to prop up the panels as they cool and harden.
•While the sides of the house are setting, cut out the roof panels. Roll the dough to 1/8" thick and cut a 5" x 10" panel and place on a parchment lines sheet pan. Cut two 3 inch tall front and back roof panels, the bottom measuring 13" and the top measuring 9 1/2 ". Cut two side roof panels, with the bottom measuring 7 3/4" and the top 4 3/4" (this makes a Federal hip roof). I cut paper templates first and use those to evenly cut out the gingerbread. Cut out eight 2" x 1" panels for the chimneys. You can roll up gingerbread dough scraps and reuse as we aren't all that concerned with overworking construction gingerbread.
• Brush the roof panels with and even layer of cocoa powder. Bake the roof panels and chimney pieces for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.
•Glue the roof panels together, using house hold implements to prop up the roof components as you go along. If the caramel has hardened, heat over low heat until pourable. Allow the roof glue to harden.
For the royal icing
•Stir together the confectioner's sugar and egg white powder. Add just enough milk so that the royal icing is smooth and holds its shape when pipe. Add more confectioner's sugar if the royal icing is too loose and a little more milk if too stiff. Fill a pastry bag fit with a small open top with the royal icing. Outline the windows and pipe window pains with the icing. Dip one side of the shutters in cocoa powder and put a dab of royal icing on the other and attach the shutters to the sides of the windows.
For the chimney and the smoke
•Using the royal icing, glue together the chimney sides and allow to set. Using the remaining caramel, heat it until just thin. Place sheets of parchment on a work space. Dip a for into the caramel and hold it over the pan to test the viscosity of the sugar. If it just drips from the for tines, it's still too hot. Keep dipping the fork into the sugar until the sugar streams from the tines in an even, unbroken stream. Once this happens, quickly swing the fork over the parchment to create sugar strands. Gather the strands together and wrap them around each other gently to create a little smoke plume.
•Gently place the roof on top of the constructed house (you can put an electric candle inside the house so that the windows light up. Don't use a traditional candle as it will melt the caramel, etc. May also burn your house down. Place the chimneys on top of the roof and tuck the sugar "smoke" into the chimney opening.
•Play with the royal icing and decorate willy nilly!