Friday, December 21, 2012

The Secret To The 2012 Gingerbread White House: The Recipe For 'Speckled Decorative Bread Dough'

Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses shares a home version of his special recipe, perfect for making holiday ornaments...
White House Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses graciously took time from his outrageously busy holiday baking schedule to share the home version of the recipe for the "Speckled Decorative Bread Dough" he used to create this year's beautiful White House Gingerbread House.  It is an easy recipe, and ideal for making unique holiday ornaments. Foodcentric architects might try it on their own gingerbread houses, but Yosses' nearly 300 hundred pound extravaganza--hailed as "phenomenal" by First Lady Michelle Obama--took close to six weeks to create.

Yosses laid the speckled dough over walls of traditional gingerbread to make this year's holiday house look like the presidential mansion pre-1798, when the walls of Aquia Creek sandstone had not yet been coated with the protective white paint that led to the President's House being called the White House. (Above, Mrs. Obama congratulating Yosses on the house)

"We matched the color from the unpainted parts of the walls that are down on the lower level," Yosses explained, and said the idea is to "celebrate the craftsmanship of the White House by those first builders."

Yosses' dough recipe uses sugar syrup, white rye flour, and dark buckwheat flour.  The dough has the consistency of a thick clay before baking, and is rolled out and then cut with cookie cutters.  It is edible, but is better for decor than eating.  (Above: Yosses and his team with the dough on a tray in the China Room, as the house was being constructed)

The dough can either be baked at 200 degrees F for three to four hours, or allowed to air dry for three days until "rock hard."  When making ornaments, be sure to create a hole for a ribbon before baking or drying.  Once made, Yosses said the dough can be used for up to ten days if kept moist with a damp cloth.

CLICK HERE for full details on the 2012 White House Gingerbread House.  Yosses' traditional Gingerbread recipe, used for the base of all the holiday houses he has made for the Obamas, makes very tasty cookies, and can also be used to make ornaments.  CLICK HERE for more of his holiday cookie recipes, and check out his Sticky Toffee Pudding.

White House Speckled Decorative Bread Dough

*Preheat the oven to 200 F


For the Dough
*1 Lb, 10.4 ounces White Rye Flour

*8.81 ounces Dark Buckwheat Flour

* 1 Lb, 6.56 ounces syrup

For the Syrup
*2 Lbs, 9 ounces Granulated Sugar

*14.8 ounces Glucose or Corn Syrup

*2 Lbs, 8 ounces Water


For the Syrup
1.  In a deep saucepan, boil water until it is rolling.

2.  Add Granulated Sugar, and when the water comes back to a boil, add Glucose or Corn Syrup.

3.  Stir until all crystals are dissolved.

4.  Remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature before using.

For the Dough
1.  Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

2.  Add half of the syrup and mix together by hand with a plastic bowl scraper

3.  Add more syrup, mixing together to achieve desired consistency (should feel like clay).  Keep mixing.  You might not use all the syrup.

4.  When finished, the dough should feel smooth, with no dry spots.

5.  Using a rolling pin, roll dough out to one quarter inch thickness on a lightly floured surface, and use cookie cutters to cut into desired shapes.

6.  Bake in a 200F oven for 3 to 4 hours, until dough becomes rock hard.  Or let dry on an open rack for 3 days.  Place parchment paper and light weight on top to prevent warping.

*If not using dough immediately, or using part of it, cover dough with plastic wrap in a box, and place a damp cloth on top.

Above, a full view of the house in the State Dining Room with Santa, the Kitchen Garden and First Dog Bo. 

CLICK HERE for links to all posts about the 2012 holidays, including recipes and instructions for White House craft projects. 

Update, Dec. 23, 2012:  The White House released this behind-the-scenes video about the huge construction project:

Download:  The Official White House Holiday Tour Booklet {PDF}

*Photos by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama; behind-the-scenes photo courtesy of HGTV