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.
Ok, before you lynch me, rest assured that we were allowed to post our Daring Bakers’ challenge a little earlier than the 27th to coincide with the holidays. So don’t take me off the ‘Good Girl List’ just yet!
Cathedral all dazzled up with christmas lights
December’s challenge was always going to be excitingly festive and this year didn’t disappoint. After the initial, ‘oh, shit’, I think I may have yelled, ‘holy crap, awesome!’. It was always something I’ve wanted to tackle year after year but was always hampered by Xmas mayhem and the fact that I really couldn’t be arsed after days of tackling crazy carpark rage and holiday shoppers. This year, miracle of miracles, I had more time for myself, which is a good thing as I would’ve gone insane if I did the challenge in one hit rather than spreading it out over a period of time.
The back of the church and the closest I’ll ever get to a white Christmas this year
I’ve always been a little gung-ho and I knew that I wanted to do something a little different for my first time. I love classic architecture so when I glanced at a photo of one of my favourite buildings – St Andrews Cathedral in Glasgow, Scotland – I knew I found my crazy muse. Of course, the gingerbread version had to be simpler and even though I wanted to, I couldn’t include every single intricate detail of the cathedral.
The inspiration: St Andrew’s Cathedral in Glasgow, Scotland (image taken from Urban Glasgow)
Sketching the church and drawing all the template pieces to scale were the easy parts. Rolling, cutting and baking 35 different pieces of gingerbread were tedious but relatively drama-free. The scary part was always going to be the assembling and having the gingerbread collapse on itself.
I made Y’s dough for the challenge but found it a bit tough to work with after a small amount of shrinkage and puffage in the baked pieces so I used the rest for cookies (you can find the two challenge recipes on The Daring Kitchen). I chose to finish the challenge with the gingerbread recipe that I usually use, which is similar in some ways but it was one I knew would work for my needs.
The stained glass windows were done with coloured sugar crystals which I melted in a pot and ‘poured’ into the windows. Can I just reiterate that I hate working with caramel (and I’m sure I’ve told you all a million times!). True to form, this messy stained glass window business didn’t help.
The cathedral’s pillars were made with ‘building blocks’ of gingerbread. And in case I wanted to light it up, I added two pigeon holes at the back of the cathedral for string lights. Decorating the whole thing was kept simple with a liberal sprinkling of icing sugar snow (complete with footprints!) – after all, it’s Scottish and this is a white Christmas!
After some minor mishaps (and an odd bout of cursing at the caramel), I’m happy to see that my very first gingerbread ‘creation’ didn’t collapse or look like a primordial blob. The Captain is downcrest at the thought of ravaging my hard work (although he admitted it would be a delicious task). Sad thing is, I think I might’ve created a monster as I’ve already looked to even more wacky landmarks for next year’s project. The boy suggested my beloved Anfield Stadium. *Manic grin*. Watch this space lol.
And finally (yes finally… I will shut up soon!), a huge Merry Christmas and happy new year! So much has happened since my humble blog’s first Christmas last year and it’s all thanks to the myriad of amazing bloggers that I’m lucky to have as good friends and comrades as well as the lovely readers who visit, email and comment. I wish you all a safe and happy holidays and remember, drink responsibly and eat lots.