Sunday, 28 December 2014

Decorated Gingerbread House

My friend's finished house
 
I still enjoy making and decorating gingerbread houses at Christmas. The first step is to make a template for the house you want to make. This is your chance to be design the house of your dreams!! My advice is to keep it simple though.

The gingerbread recipe below is very crispy and does not become soft easily. Good for making houses, not so good for making cookies.

Secondly, you need icing which is not too wet so that it dries relatively quick and the house can stay together.



Recipe makes 1 medium size house:
Vegetable shortening 70 grams
Sugar 85 grams
Baking powder 2 grams
Salt 3 grams      
Molasses (light or dark) 125 grams
Ground ginger 1 gram
Cinnamon 1 gram
Flour 325 grams
Water 25 grams


1. Mix the first seven ingredients in a bowl until well blended.  Add the flour and water next. Continue to mix until dough forms.
Cut the dough in shape of the template
2. Roll the dough directly onto the cooking sheet and cut out patterns using the gingerbread house template.
3. Cut the gingerbread with a sharp knife working from the inside out.  This means, if there are windows, etc. cut them first.  Then cut the sides.  Bake at 180 Celsius for about 15 minutes. Check for hardness. If soft, bake again for several minutes.


The house is ready to be baked


 


Icing:
Powdered sugar 2 cups
Wilton meringue powder or egg white powder 2 tablespoons
Warm water 4 –6 tablespoons
 
1. Combine powdered sugar and meringue powder. Add the water and beat until it becomes fluffy. Icing should be able to hold its shape when piped.
2. Put the icing in a pastry bag for decoration. Keep the extra icing in a bowl covered with a damp towel since the icing will become hard quickly. 
 
Putting Together:
Start with the back of the house
1. Prepare a piece of cardboard covered with foil for the base. Make a line with the icing on the foil where the house will be put. Start with the back of the house and continue with the sides.
2. Place the back of the house along the back icing line. Then place one of the sides next to the back of the house and put a line of icing along the side to hold the two pieces together. Repeat the same process for the other side.
3. Pipe a line along the front of the house and place the house piece on it.


Pipe icing to attach roof

4. The next step is the roof. Pipe icing along the edges of the roof and place the house pieces on top of it. Be sure to center them correctly.



5. After putting the roof on, pipe icing along the top edge to help keep it together.

House is ready
 
Decorate as you like
 Note: if you want to make curtains for the house, be sure to attach the cloth inside the house with icing before you start step #1.
Merry Christmas

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Christmas Stollen

Stollen with dried figs
Merry Christmas
Making stollen is not more difficult than making any other bread. Make this on a day when you have other things to do in the kitchen since it needs to rise several times and you can do other things during this time. I put large dried figs in this bread on one side. This adds a delicious flavor to an already tasty bread.

This recipe makes a large bread so you can reduce it by half if you don't need that much. Even if you make the whole recipe, I suggest dividing the dough in half to bake since it is really quite large.

Recipe:
340 grams dried diced fruits such as raisins, cranberries, apricot, etc. (soaked in brandy)
85 grams diced walnuts
85 grams diced almonds
140 grams milk (room temperature)
1 gram salt
60 grams egg
55 grams lukewarm water
9 grams instant dry yeast
120 grams sugar
400 grams bread flour (sifted)
100 grams butter (room temperature)
7 - 9 large dried figs

1. Soak the dried fruit in the liquor for at least 30 minutes or overnight. Drain extra liquid. You can add a 1 - 2 tablespoons of flour to the fruit to soak up the extra liquid before using.

2. In a bowl, mix the milk and egg. In a separate bowl, combine the water and yeast and let sit for at least 10 minutes. Then add the yeast mixture to the milk and mix lightly with a small whisk.

3. Mix together the flour, salt and sugar with a whisk in a bowl. Add the milk mixture and mix together with spatula. If you have a standing mixer (Kitchen Aid) or a food processor you can use it to mix the flour and liquid.

4. Put the dough on a flat surface and start to knead. Knead until soft for about 10 - 15 minutes. Roll into a ball and cover with a bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. After resting, add in the softened butter and knead until it is fully mixed into the dough.

5. The dough should be soft and easy to knead. If it feels too stiff add a teaspoon of milk or more until the dough is soft.

6. Flatten the dough on a flat surface and add the nuts on top. Fold the dough around the nuts and use a bread scraper to mix in the dough. After the nuts start to get mixed in then add the dried fruits and continue to mix together. The dough may be sticky if the fruit was too wet.

7. Roll into a ball and place in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. Keep in a warm place (about 28 degrees Celsius) for about 1 1/2 hours for rising.

8. Sprinkle a flat surface with flour then remove the dough from the bowl and place on the surface. Flatten to remove the air and make a ball again. Cover with plastic and let sit on the board for 20 minutes.

Place dried figs on the dough
9. Divide the dough into 2 equal size pieces. Flatten each piece to remove the air and use a rolling pin to roll each piece to about 15 cm x 10 cm. Add the large dried figs in a row to one side of the dough.
















Fold the dough over the figs
And fold dough on other side too
10. Fold the dough over the figs. Also, fold the dough over on the other side as well.

11. Put in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes.

12. Bake at 190 degrees Celsius for 35 - 40 minutes. If the bread starts to become too browned before baking is finished then cover lightly with foil just on the top.

13. After removing from the oven, brush with melted butter. Once the bread has cooled a little, sprinkle generously with powdered sugar.

The finished bread