Sunday, December 27, 2009

Gingerbread House

December’09 Daring Bakers challenge: Gingerbread House
This month’s DB challenge was all about gingerbread house..I’ve never made it before but was very excited to try it and since it was the winter break of my nieces and nephews they wanted to help me with it. So I decided to use both the recipe by Anna and Y. the dough was really giving me problem needed to add more liquid, so I left it to rest over night. Next day I came down with the flu and my allergies acted up. I didn’t make the gingerbread house that day wanted to rest still the next 2 days got worse but I went ahead with my challenge. I chose the design and templates of our 200 year old house in the village, I baked them and the all shrunk so I had to size and cut again for assembling… I assembled it but I just could not continued with the decoration so the kids said they will do it…I just felt I could not do well in this challenge and got late in posting due to net problems. =(

Anna's Recipe:
Spicy Gingerbread Dough (from Good Housekeeping)

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.

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.
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.
4. [I rolled out the dough on a floured bench, roughly 1/8 inch thick (which allows for fact that the dough puffs a little when baked), cut required shapes and transferred these to the baking sheet. Any scraps I saved and rerolled at the end.]
5. 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.
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:
1 cup (200g) water
2 cups (400g) sugar
Combine 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.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Pecan Pie Cookies

November’09 Cookie Carnival Challenge

The November challenge of the Cookie Carnival was put to vote and the winner cookie was Pecan Pie Cookies! Jen from Beantown Baker was the one who submitted the recipe...Thanks Jen!. I wanted to try these the moment I saw the challenge and enjoyed baking them as pecan is not easily available but canned verities which are quite expensive are available in few selected shops…Here I found a can of slightly toasted & salted pecan in a shop despite being quite expensive … I really wanted to try it so I did. Usually when trying a new recipe I do it on the school days cause then my nieces and nephews are busy in school and won’t bug me by saying are they done yet? Are they done yet? after every 2 minutes…while they were in school I started with my baking and the first batch was ready when they all arrived from school…my 9 year old niece came running said ok hand over whatever you baked today I was like you just came go wash up then have them she said she does not trust anyone so she wants her share now!..she took the 1st try as it is our deal the 1st batch is always goes to her and it’s up to her either she wants to share or not as everyone was waiting cause they could smell the lovely and tempting aroma so my niece had no choice but to share and wait for the other batch. I must admit they were good so good that they made me bake them every 2nd day and I substituted the pecan for walnuts and still they tasted amazing.
I had no problem baking them…the recipe was quite simple and easy plus the taste was heavenly. These cookies were really enjoyed by me & my family..Thank you for this challenge.
Pecan Pie Cookies - from Land O Lakes - makes ~3 dozen
Cookie Ingredients:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder

Filling Ingredients:
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla

Heat oven to 350°F.
Combine all cookie ingredients except flour and baking powder in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour and baking powder. Beat until well mixed.
Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Make indentation in each cookie with thumb; rotate thumb to hollow out slightly.
Combine all filling ingredients in small bowl; fill each cookie with 1 rounded teaspoon filling. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets