adventures in baking

yum! So this is what I’ve been preoccupied with this weekend: A gingerbread house! I’ve been obsessed with the idea of making one as a holiday centerpiece, and look! I did it!

This is truly amazing, because I don’t usually bake. Heck, I don’t usually cook. My culinary skills peak at boiling water (and I make a killer grilled cheese), but every now and then I get it in my head that I want to make something. It’s usually something big, fancy, and way beyond my perceived level of expertise.

Because, you know, I need another excuse to pull my hair out.

I used this gingerbread recipe and this glue recipe. Here’s a little peek into my “process”:

1) Go shopping. Buy enough ingredients for at least four gingerbread houses because you can’t remember how many ounces are in a cup, how many cups are in a pound, and so on and so forth. Also, don’t bother to check the cupboards before you leave the house to see if you have any of the aforementioned ingredients. Instead, buy duplicates. Because you’re obviously made of money.

2) Whip cream and vanilla extract and wonder what “soft peaks” are supposed to look like. Your peaks look more like lumps than peaks. Shrug it off.

3) Begin to mix dough. Realize that recipe calls for 9 cups of flour. You hear Atkins turning in his grave.

4) As you’re mixing in the fourth cup of flour, your ancient hand-held mixer starts to smell funny, kind of like burning rubber… but it’s probably nothing, of course.

5) By the fifth cup of flour, the hand-held mixer is smoking. When you turn it off to give it a rest, you can’t turn it back on. First casualty of the night!

6) Decide to call in the heavy artillery in the form of one husband, who has muscles to mix the remaining four cups of flour into the dough by hand. Husband walks away with a newfound sense of pride in his handiwork… and a bad case of carpal tunnel.

7) Roll out your dough and decide that “even” is a relative term. Bake in sheets for 30 minutes, then cut out your house pieces with a sharp knife. “Sharp” is also a relative term. Bake for another 30…40… oh whatever. You’re tired. Is it bedtime yet?

8) You own no cookie cutters (why would you? You never bake) so you decide to cut out your trees and decorations by hand. This is dumb, because you’re tired, and trees are hard.

9) The next morning, go to Target to replace your hand mixer and grab a cake decorating kit, because you’re pretty sure the snip-a-corner-off-the-plastic-bag method won’t cut it this time.

10) Realize that the wall’s edges are jagged (see step 7, and the part about having a “sharp” knife) and won’t fit together properly. Light bulb! File the edges smooth with a cheese grater.

11) Commence building. The walls stand, and they’re not (too) crooked. Pat self on back. Realize the roof won’t fit because of the cardboard supports. Scrap the cardboard supports and start over.

12) Realize your piping technique is teh suck. That’s OK – just cover everything with M&M’s. Mmm, M&M’s… might as well take a handful for yourself.

13) Hmm, need more M&M’s. (You do, not the house.)

14) Finis!

See! Building a gingerbread house is really easy. Just think how easy it will be if you’ve actually done this stuff before.

Now I think I’m going to go throw up a rainbow of chocolate candy deliciousness. Urgh.

πŸ˜ƒ+

7 thoughts on “adventures in baking

  1. Great results! You are very brave to attempt this. I’ve done this and will never, ever do it again. People have no idea the work that goes into those houses! No wonder the witch was so crabby in Hansel & Gretel.

    Truly, great work.

  2. Charlie Moore says:

    Good job, C!!…is there a rest of the house, or is it just the front yard you’re showing us?? As I can remember, our efforts to create one of these ended with a good dose of scotch or coffee brandy, and a “…it’ll look better in the morning…”. Your persistence has paid off!! πŸ˜€

  3. Thank you!

    And hi Dad! That’s just the front yard. πŸ˜€ I didn’t get any good photos of the back (it’s not as pretty) but here are a couple photos with a better view:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/sixhours/2099348104/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/sixhours/2099348790/

    I do remember our last attempt at gingerbread houses, and I think I’ve discovered the secret… we weren’t using a powerful enough icing glue. Cream of tartar plus egg whites plus sugar makes for a super-strong adhesive! And it’s a huge pain in the ass to clean up, too. πŸ˜‰

  4. I found your entry via a google search for gingerbread house pictures. πŸ™‚
    Funny stuff! πŸ˜€ Even though I am an “average” baker, I had most of the ingredients, and didn’t have to go shopping for toppings. hmmmm… I guess that makes me a sugar-freak! LOL
    These things are HARD to make! One side broke 3 times before I finally got it all to stay. ugh!
    the boys and I will finish it tomorrow, unless of course I go into labor. LOL

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