Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Why you shouldn't do two things at once

A gingerbread tale

Last year I went to a gingerbread house making class at church. The lady who showed us make a gorgeous house in minutes right in front of us, so I went home and gave it a try. I made 3 gingerbread houses last year and learnt lots on the way! It is HARD and takes A LONG TIME!!

After spending all the time making them (and them not being attractive enough to gift ;) the last thing I wanted to do was eat it. I ended up sending one of the houses along to my daughters school. The teacher read "The Gingerbread Man" and "Hansel and Gretel" to the kids and then they devoured that house.. they licked the plate clean :)

So apparently this makes up a family tradition and now both my girls want to take a Gingerbread house to school. So I spent today making said Houses to take to school tomorrow

Here is house number 1 - I am very happy with the way it turned out for only my second year trying.

Here is house number 2 - Do you think I can tell the kids it's just a gingerbread house that was in a snowstorm/cyclone/hurricane/typhoon/tsunami/insert calamity here?

I am bribing older daughter (who got to take a house last year) to forgive me and I will attempt again later in the week. If not I suppose I will owe her big time

Here are my gingerbread house tips for any of you first timers (or second timers like me)

It can take up to a day- so split the steps up for quicker finishing. This year I made the dough on one day, cooked it early morning another day and iced it together in the afternoon

Don't let your kids help! The first year I let my older daughter stay up to help me.. It took hours and their help is less than helpful :) Make the house and ice alone then allow children to attach the candy.

Gingerbread dough is really sticky from all the butter - You must refridgerate the dough for atleast an hour, or if you want to cheat like me, I put mine in the freezer

I learnt this tip this week - Roll the dough between two sheets of baking paper

Like this

Then place the rolled out dough into the freezer - baking paper and all

When it is harder, but still pliable take out of freezer and cut the house shapes out with scissors!!

Like this

I then placed all the pieces in the freezer wrapped in cling wrap (this is all I did on that day- I made the house another day)

When it came time to make the house it did not take me so long as the shapes were cut and ready to cook and then decorate the house.

Fill the house with wrapped lollies (candy) before you put the roof pieces on

You need LOTS of icing. The royal icing is the glue/mortar to hold your house together. You will need probably two packets of pure icing sugar. I find the houses fall down without enough icing... you can never have too much icing to keep it together.

So there is my advice for you all.. or maybe the best advice.. buy one already made :) But that takes the fun out of it :)

Side view

I used Coco Pops Chex for the roof tiles, sour straps for door and window, smarties, mint leaves, Musk Sticks to make my house.


Anonymous said...

looks fantastic, I would eat it, better than I could do. You are so good all the stuff you do with the girls

BindiM said...

I love your houses! Especially the creamy looking frosting. Mia's birthday is Dec 22nd and we usually end up having her friends decorate houses. I usually make about 15 each year so here are my tips...

*Make the pieces for the houses a day or two before putting them together.

*If you are going to eat them in the next couple of days, join them together with melted sugar in the electric frypan. You then cover the joins with icing. Getting the house together is almost instant. Not so good if it really hot outside though...(like QLD!!)

*Buy a gingerbread house cutter set. Makes perfect shaped pieces each time and is a huge time saver. I love mine and it was cheap on eBay. Can send you a link to the seller if you want.

*Have the houses put together, with a ziplock bag of icing and loads of lollies ready to go when the YW arrive. It will still take them 2 hours just to attach the lollies!

*Buy cute lollies whenever you see them in the months preceding Xmas. If I go looking on the day for the candy I want to use I can never find the right stuff.

Bindi xo

Cowan Family said...

It looks fabulous!! Good on you! Lisa Guy did them with the young women on Saturday. BUT... she premade all the house pieces and all the girls had to do was to put it together and decorate. I was impressed and thought how easy it looked. But after your story I am not even trying at this late stage. I get stressed rolling dough and haven't had a great success rate in the past!
Yours is just beautiful! But personally I think it's wasted on the school class. It should take pride of place on the mantelpiece!!!

Calamity Cookie said...

Your house looks great. You know i've seen a house that used All-Bran stuck to the roof, looked good but taste wise...hmmm.

I've decided not to make a gingerbread house this year. Did one last year and it was very exhausting although I really like your tips. No, this year i'm going to make a nativity scene cake. Wish me luck!

Jan said...

Another reason to love this season. It turned out so great. Love the roof. We use frosted shredded wheat for a snowy thatched look. Cereal is a great house decor. Love it.

Montserrat said...

We've been doing gingerbread houses for the last ten years at our house. All my children, except the two youngest ahve learned to put their own together. As Bindi said, it helps so much better if you make the house pieces a couple of days before putting them together -- and have a few spare pieces in case some get broken. I use royal icing made with dehydrated egg whites. It sticks everything together like glue but is so pure white it looks beautiful.

We are oging to make ours in a couple of days when my parents are visiting. I was going to post our recipe, pattern, and tips then.

Our little family said...

Cute houses. I cheat and buy the kits with the gingerbread already made, then you assemble all the pieces. I find it helps to pit the house together, let it dry for a couple hours, THEN decorate it. If you do it too soon, the frosting won't be strong enough, and the roof will be too heavy and will slide off/collapse. I love your idea of the Chex for shingles.

This is a tradition for us. We've made spring and fall ones as well.

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