Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Gingerbread House That Wouldn't Let Me Sleep

Have you ever had one of those times when you were powerless to keep an idea from rolling around in your brain? There you are- lying in bed, trying to fall back asleep, but after a while it becomes obvious. It's a lost cause - you should just get up. That's what happened to me the other morning. Thoughts of plans for my gingerbread house would not leave me alone, so I finally quit fighting it and went downstairs to get busy. It was driving me so bonkers in fact, I didn't even waste time changing out of my pajamas. Here's how it all went down. 
In order to get the size house I wanted (humongous- of course!), I had to make my own pattern. I've found using leftover cardboard is best for this job because it's sturdy and easier to work with than paper or posterboard.
I cut everything out and made sure all the sides lined up the way they should. I ended up having to redo a few of the pieces to get the roof line the way I wanted, but that took no time at all.
Once I'd tackled the pattern, it was time to make the gingerbread dough. I use Krusteaz for all my gingerbread houses because it's easy to work with and the surface of the cookie dough always bakes up nice and smooth.  The name is cringe worthy, I know, but life's too short for measuring molasses. Just make sure to follow the recipe on the box for the cutout gingerbread cookies and not the drop cookies. The drop cookie recipe won't be stiff enough to support your house.
Here's a trick I had to learn the hard way. To save my sanity, I roll out the dough directly onto parchment paper. That way, I can move it around with ease. Since the rolled dough has to be no more than 1/4" to 1/3" inch thick, this is the only way to get this job done. Otherwise, it's impossible to transfer something that big and that thin to a cookie sheet without losing your mind.
I put my cardboard pattern on the dough and, after running my knife around the edges, cut away the excess gingerbread. 
I baked each piece at 375 degrees for about 12-14 minutes. Then, using the parchment paper to transfer them, I slid each section to a cooling rack and didn't mess with them until they were completely cool to the touch.
Once cool, I removed the parchment and kinda "dry fit" the pieces to see which sides went best with each other.
Sometimes, the gingerbread edges can bake up a smidge rounded and this can keep the side seams of your house from fully lining up. No worries, people- just use your lime zester to gently chisel the edges until everything meets up nice and square.
Here's where I know I'm going to create controversy - but I gotta keep it real. I use hot glue to keep my gingerbread houses together. Why, you ask? Because: 1) No one gets to eat this house, so I don't have to stick with edible options to hold it together. 2) Nothing- and I mean nothing- is more heart breaking than watching your gorgeous gingerbread house collapse due to a royal icing failure. If you don't believe me, just ask Reagan.
First, I glued all the sides together.
And then I put on the roof. Don't worry about all the hot glue you can see on the seams of the house. Once I break out the royal icing and start decorating this baby, that glue will be a distant memory. Come back on Tuesday and I'll show you how it all turned out.

Since this is my last post before Christmas Day, I just want to take a moment and wish you and your family nothing but joy and happiness in the upcoming year. Hug them close and kiss their sweet faces, because your family is the most precious gift of all.

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