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.
This time, due to the Christmas season, the posting date is anytime from the 23rd to the 27th. So I'm Not early...
And now on to Bond...Home for Christmas
Bond sighed as he scratched the stubble on his face as he looked left and right at all the different shops in the mall. He hated Christmas. No, that wasn't true. He actually liked Christmas, loved it even. What he hated was all the time spent shopping for all the presents he had to buy. Time spent shopping that could be better put to use in seducing willing women.
James scrathed his chin again as he thought that Christmas was always a dry season for him as far as nubile women were concerned. Heck, it was a dry season as far as ANY women were concerned. Somehow, they just didnt seem interested in him at this time of the year. The fact that the whole spy community somehow had an unspoken pact to keep it quiet around Christmas probably had a lot to do with it. Well, he was home. Home for Christmas...and all he was doing was shopping.
James wandered into a lingerie store and perked up considerably. The sight of all that lace, ribbons and other skimpy garments brought a smile to his face. He remembered his trip to St Honore, where the women wore nothing but Aprons
"May I help you Sir?" Asked the salesgirl, fluttering her eyelids and stealing a glance at his crotch.
James smiled at her. Not bad looking he thought. He did a quick glance down, she had nice legs. His eyes quickly flashed to her cleavage. Very nice low cut blouse and showing a lot of flesh. Very nice view, very nice indeed. Suddenly he froze as he glanced at her name tag - Ginger.
"Um, Sorry Love, I just remembered I have to be somewhere... Sorry!" Bond muttered.
"Come back anytime Sir," Ginger giggled softly, "I'll be wating for you."
Bond gave her one last longing look at her shapely legs as he he quickly left the shop. Her name had reminded him of Gingerbread - the latest task he had was to make a Gingerbread House for HRH the Queen! Dammit! The first woman to show any interest in him at Chrismtas-time and he had to leave. Dammit, Dammit, Dammit!
"I get off at lunch tomorrow!" Ginger practically screamed out at the retreating Bond.
Bond quickly rushed back, it was already past 8pm when he got home. Quickly, he dug out the recipe. He decided he was going to use the Scandinavian recipe given by Y - simply because he had all the ingredients on hand as well as the fact the he always had a soft spot for Scandinavian Women.
Mixing the dough was fairly straightforward and it all came together fairly nicely. The dough wasnt as dry as he thought it may be and he was suddenly confused whether he had added in the right amount of flour - was it 4 cups of 5 that he had put in. Bond reckoned it was 5. His hand held mixed started to protest and so Bond kneaded away with his well trained hands. He was careful not to overwork the gluten and then he put the dough away to rest overnight.
The next morning, the 23rd of December, Bond awoke bright and early. He made his way downstairs and took the dough out of the fridge. It was Hard as a Rock. He left it out to thaw while he sat down and reminisced about Christmas Pasts...
He remembered one Christmas when he was snowed in at the Swiss Alps. Fortunately he had met Carol who had kept him entertained throughout Christmas and for most of the week after the New Year. She had walked down the staircase wearing absolutely nothing. He always remembered her fondly as his Christmas Carol and he smiled quietly at how they had both shared their very own version of the 12 Days of Christmas...
Bond went to check on the dough again, it was still hard although not as hard as before...
He thought about Holly, who used to Deck the Halls with all manner of decorations and branches - mostly done while she was herself naked. Then there was Joy who, while such a lovely girl, was so caught up with world peace...
James shook his head and went back to work. He checked the dough and quickly rolled it out. He cut out pieces as per the template he had designed.
Bond then realised that he had enough dough for two batches of Gingerbread houses - one each for the children of his latest conquest. So while one batch was baking, he rolled and cut out another batch and also some circles, gingerbread men, christmas trees and reindeer.
He then whipped up the Royal Icing. He wondered briefly whether he should bow before making the Royal Icing as he had been conditioned to bow before all things Royal.
Bond was getting a little more excited with each passing moment. He used the Royal Icing as glue to stick the pieces together to form a house. Bond heaved a sigh of relief as his gingerbread actually resembled a house. He had done it!
Bond decided he was going to leave the decorating to the chefs at Buckingham Palace - it was high time they did some work instead of always depending on him. With a glint in his eye, he made his way back to the mall to find Ginger. He was certainly going to teach her a thing or two and maybe even some tricks from Christmas Carol...
I have to admit, if not for this challenge, I would never, ever have attempted to make a Gingerbread House! I also have to admit, that I wasn't sure how the House would turn out so I didnt spend too much time decorating it for fear that the house would collapse - or worse still, not even assemble into a house!
I got the kids to help out with the assembly as well as with the decorating and we all had a lot of fun with it. I am just so pleased that my Gingerbread turned out! Thanks to Anna and Y for spurring me on to do this superb Challenge!
Both the kids were extremely pleased that they had one house each and like me, were thrilled to be able to decorate their houses - or at least direct me to do what they wanted. If you notice, Sarah's gingerbread Man(woman) has an S on it while Michael's house has a shield on the door. He also has a gingerbread Santa climbing down the chimney while the reindeer waits downstairs.
My only regret is that I didnt make holes for the windows and doors - I was just too petrified that the Gingerbread house wouldnt turn out well!
HAVE A BLESSED CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!
Scandinavian Gingerbread (Pepparkakstuga)
from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas http://astore.amazon.com/thedarkit-20/detail/0816634963
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.
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.
2 cups (400g) sugar
Place 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