Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Daring Bakers' December Challenge - Gingerbread House

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. (Recipe HERE)

Phase I - The Pattern
Back when the boys were just little shavers I made gingerbread houses for Christmas. Some of them were very elaborate and large. Although it had been many years since I made one, the challenge presented to us brought back fond memories. However, I thought I'd like to try my hand at something a little different this time . . . maybe a gingerbread Noah's ark, instead of a house! I looked on-line for a pattern. Although I found a few pictures of assembled arks, I couldn't find the pattern pieces, so out came the cardboard, the ruler and the scissors, and I spent an evening making a pattern. After I cut out the cardboard pieces, I taped it all together to make sure the pieces fit properly.



As you see, I stopped off at a kitchen store after work that day and bought a few new animal cookie cutters. You can't have an ark without animals!

My master plan was to bake and assemble the ark, bubble wrap it and pack it in a box, and take it with me when we went to see the grandkids for Christmas. I would bring the royal icing ingredients and all of the candy decorations, as well, and we could have a Noah's ark decorating party one evening. My only concern with waiting so late to do the decorating was that it would be difficult to get the blog posted by the deadline, December 27.

Phase II - Baking and Construction
I used Anna's Good Housekeeping recipe for my gingerbread, and it turned out great - very easy to roll out and to cut, and no shrinkage. A few of the pieces spread a tiny bit, so I trimmed them while they were still hot from the oven. After baking I sealed them in a plastic container and froze them, since I wasn't yet ready to build the ark. On construction day I pulled the gingerbread from the freezer and laid them out to thaw for half-a-day, until I was ready to put it all together.


Knowing that two sets of hands were better than one, when it comes to building an ark, I invited my friend, Lois, over to help put it together. I made my royal icing using powdered egg whites, and it set up beautifully.

We built the lower part of the ark first, and let it set up before putting the cabin on top. While we waited, we iced the animals, which took a lot more time than I anticipated. We both thought the roof pieces might not stay in place without some sort of prop for awhile, but we underestimated the sticking-power of the royal icing, which held tight and set up like concrete in no time.

In the end, we had a stable and flood-worthy ark, although still lacking the candy decorations.


Phase III - Transporting
The next phase was transporting the ark for a bit more than 900 miles, in the back of our small SUV, so that our granddaughter, Clara, could help decorate it on Christmas Eve.

Phase IV - Decorating
We finally brought the ark to rest, safely, at Clara's house! On Christmas Eve we decorated it with icing and candies.





Thanks, Anna and Y, for this month's challenge. It gave me a great opportunity for a special, creative, grandma/granddaughter Christmas activity.

17 comments:

Y said...

What a great post. I love the idea of making an ark. I'm also in awe of the fact you had a template all prepared and even assembled the cardboard pieces together to see what it would look like first.. talk about organised! :D

All Our Fingers in the Pie said...

It is adorable. You will be saving that template! Your granddaughter appears to be having a great time, as is grandma!

Francijn Brouwer said...

Your ark is very, very beautiful, congratulations! And I suggest you put a picture on the completed challenges post, you'll get more comments then!

Karen @ Citrus and Candy said...

I am speechless. Yours would have to be one of the most original DB 'houses' and it looks utterly amazing!

culinography said...

Your ark is absolutely adorable... and so is your granddaughter! Wonderful interpretation of the challenge!!

Sue Sparks said...

I love, love, love your ark!!! It's fantastic! Now I am really inspired! So fun making it with the granddaughter!

Lauren said...

That is simply fantastic! I love that you made it with your granddaughter, and the ark is gorgeous! Very creative =D.

Marcellina said...

Your ark is fantastic! I loved reading your post it left me feeling warm all over. Thankyou for the wonderful spirit of Christmas you brought in your post decorating with your gorgeous graddaughter.

silverrock said...

Brilliant idea to make an ark! I attempted a boat but it didn't go over so well :( Your gingerbread ark looks too cute to eat... way to go on this month's challenge and hope to see more amazing bakes in the New Year!

Jill said...

I love your Noah's Ark!! It is so cute and how fun that you could decorate it with your granddaughter!! :)

Lis said...

I absolutely love your ark, Linda! And I'm tickled you got to decorate it with your grand daughter, she's adorable!

Happy Holidays!
xoxox

anna said...

This is soooo adorable! You're obviously a pro at this ;) Another great example of how this challenge turned into a sweet family activity.

mdeals said...

Looks stunning.........

Anzj said...

Precious, both boat and grand daughter!! And so creative. Chapeau!

http://mangerie.blogspot.com/2009/12/het-kerstdessert-met-hoofdletters.html

saylorkel said...

So cute. Nice job!

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