Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Baking

I love to bake. So, being paleo/low-carb, the main challenge that this creates is that I need someone else to eat all of the stuff I bake. This works ok when you live with other people, but not so well when you live by yourself. So this year, I decided to make two gingerbread houses: one for my mom and one for my aunt and her family.
Now, making a standard gingerbread house is pretty straightforward. But I always make things more complicated than they have to be, so I came up with two ideas: a log cabin gingerbread house for my mom, and a split-level gingerbread house for my aunt.
I'll be honest, I felt kind of dirty just buying vegetable shortening, white flour, sugar, and molasses to make the gingerbread, even though I knew I wasn't going to eat any.

The basic recipe I used, stolen shamelessly from my mom, was:
5c white flour
1c sugar
1c molasses
1c shortening
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg (I used crappy King Soopers eggs that I got for free from a coupon)
1 tbsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
2 tbsp vinegar

I made the dough, then went on to determining the dimensions of the pieces I needed. All in all, I used two batches of dough.

I melted jolly ranchers for windows (supposedly butterscotch candies work the best, but I couldn't find any), and used icing consisting of 4c powdered sugar (I felt dirty buying that too), 3 egg whites, and 1/2 tsp cream of tarter to glue the pieces together.

To make "logs" for the gingerbread log cabin, the easiest thing to do is to evenly roll out a stick of dough to whatever length you want the side to be. Bake it like you normally would (~6-7 minutes at 350F). The logs will flatten a little but don't worry about it, since you're going to use other pieces to hold them together anyway.

The results:

To make your log-cabin house so that you can put a normal roof on it, simply bake 6-8 logs (3-4 for each side) like you normally would, and IMMEDIATELY after removing them from the oven, use a spatula to slide the set for each side right up next to each other, then use a sharp knife to cut them diagonally so they will fit a roof.

Using spare pieces of gingerbread, glue the logs for each side together (if your sides are the same lengths, it doesn't matter, but mine were 9.5" and 8", so I needed to keep track) using icing and spare pieces of gingerbread (the discarded pieces from the tall roof sides work well... I used these but needed a few more so I just baked some extra).

The final product:

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