Sunday, December 2, 2012

Gingerbread Houses and Some Gingered Treats

My husband's Gingerbread Chalet
When I agreed to do a guest post during December for the Secret Recipe Club - since we're on hiatus till January 2013 - I tossed around a few different ideas. But as we're full-boar into the holiday season, I decided on gingerbread. Nothing says Christmas to me more than the heady smell of molasses and ginger swirling around my kitchen. Now you could buy a gingerbread house kit, but this is so much more satisfying!

Gingerbread Houses 

Two years ago my younger son asked for a gingerbread house-making party; his birthday is two days before Christmas. I was baking gingerbread for days....and my husband got a little bit carried away with his creation as you can see from the photo above. But it was lots and lots of fun family time. And that, to me, is that the holidays are all about!

The Basic Dough...
1 C butter
1 C dark brown sugar
2 eggs
2/3 C unsulphered molasses
6 C white whole wheat flour
1 C chestnut flour
2 T baking powder
1 T ground ginger

Melt the butter and whisk in the molasses, sugar, and eggs. Add dry ingredients and blend till you have a stiff dough. Split dough into quarters and roll into a ball. Wrap tightly with plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour. Roll dough to desired thickness (I kept them fairly thick to withstand little hands) and cut out your pieces. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, depending on thickness.

The Royal Icing... AKA "the cookie glue"
egg whites from two eggs, or more if needed to thin icing
4 C organic powdered sugar, or more to thicken icing
juice from one lemon

Beat the whites until stiff but not dry. Add sugar and lemon juice. Beat for another minute. If the icing is too thick, add more egg whites; if it's too thin, add more sugar. Add food coloring if you desire. This icing may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

If you follow my blog, you'll know that 2012 has been the start of our Cooking Around the World Adventure - we're cooking and eating our way through 195+ countries. So, I thought it only fitting that I include some gingerbread treats from around the world.

Guinness Gingerbread with Lemon Curd

Do you have flavor combinations that evoke memories from your childhood? For me, from the kitchen of my childhood friend Jessica Jenschke, née Coughran, came a gingerbread cake with a lemon curd sauce (Jess corrected me the last time I made this). That combination has stuck with me for over thirty years. I have never had the recipe, but this is my version...

This makes two 10"x13" rectangular cakes. Cut it in half, if needed.

2-1/2 sticks butter, plus some for greasing
2 C unsulphered molasses
2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 bottle of Guinness
4 t each ground ginger and ground cinnamon
2 t each ground nutmeg and ground allspice
1/2 t ground cloves
1 C chestnut flour
3 C white whole wheat flour
2 T baking powder
2 C sour cream
4 eggs
2 T crystallized ginger

Preheat the oven to 350. Melt the butter completely. Stir in molasses, brown sugar, Guinness, eggs, and sour cream. Add in dry ingredients and stir till completely moistened. Stir in crystallized ginger and pour into buttered cake pans. Bake for 1 hour or till a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Add a sprinkling of powdered sugar and a dollop of lemon curd. Et voilà!

Lemon Curd
1 C fresh lemon juice
4 t fresh lemon zest
1 cup sugar
6 large eggs
12 T butter, cut into cubes

Whisk together juice, zest, sugar, and eggs in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Stir in butter and cook over moderately low heat, whisking frequently, until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and first bubble appears on surface, about 6 minutes.

There you have it, some gingered holiday treats for you to enjoy. If you have any favorite gingerbread recipe, I'd love to hear about it. Leave me a comment here or email me at constantmotioncamilla [at] gmail [dot] com. Happy holidays and happy baking!

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