BPA 100: Gingerbread Houses!

BPA 100
Day 7, Friday

Royal Icing and Gingerbread Houses

Today we began by preparing the royal icing that serves as the mortar for our gingerbread houses. The recipe is from pg. 34 of Friberg:

1 cup egg whites
2 lbs 8 oz sifted powdered sugar

Since we want the icing to be thick like glue and dry quickly, we added another cup of powdered sugar. It will be creamy white and have a nice shine when finished. It is best to make it thicker to begin with and thin it out later if needed by adding corn syrup. The syrup keeps the icing smooth and flowing.

Keep the icing wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and a wet towel directly on top because it will dry out very quickly.

Our gingerbread dough from the day before was ready for rolling into thin sheets for us to cut using the house templates we made. Using the large dough sheeter we were able to roll all the dough to the same thickness, very quickly. It has finger guards at both ends and will not start if they are not down. The dough should be shorter than the guard or else it won’t pass smoothly underneath. The dough sits on a piece of canvas that goes around like a conveyor belt or treadmill. There is a lever for the direction of the canvas, towards or away from you, and multiple speeds. On top is a flour bin with bread flour for dusting of the top and bottom of the dough. There is a wheel with the varying levels of thickness and a lock to make sure the dough doesn't get rolled below that point. Today we were rolling to a 4. This made the dough thin enough to cook quickly and appear delicate, but still strong enough to hold up a roof and candy decorations.

We took our gingersnap dough from the day before and rolled it further into small balls and dipped those in hand colored sugar. To achieve the look of bricks on our roof we rolled the dough in two different red colors before baking.

Since they were so small the cookies only took about 10 minutes to bake. When cooled we snapped them in half so they could be easily "glued" to the roof.

After creating a template for the house walls and roof we cut the dough and baked the gingerbread on parchment lined sheet pans for around 10-12 minutes.

The gingerbread baked to a nice caramel brown color and held its shape well in baking. We began assembling the walls and piped the royal icing as mortar to keep the house together. When the icing dries it is extremely strong.

The red gingersnap cookies look great as brick tiles on the roof. The house is starting to come together with its four walls, door, paned windows, and cobblestone path.

The roof panels are finished and drying and the base of the house is setting up.

Disaster struck!

In attempting to attach the roof we found it was too heavy and the thin walls of the house could not support it! The icing was not drying fast enough and eventually the roof began to collapse and cracked one of the structural supporting walls.

Facing adversity we decided not to give up but to work with our remaining pieces. The house became a "California Ranch" style home with a flat roof. Green grass and shrubs were added to the yard and a small chimney on top. A wreath of greenery planned for the side of the house was placed on the roof because it was too heavy to hang.

Yellow lights and green garland were added to bring holiday spirit and cheer to the house. The broken side actually created a space for new interest in a lattice fence looking into the interior of the house. Our house, along with the others made in class, is available for viewing in the cafeteria.

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