Like many others, I became obsessed with baking after watching a certain Brythonic baking show. As I watched enormously talented bakers craft beautiful , and sometimes not so beautiful, creations, I thought what every rational person might think, “well, I can do that.” And so I embark on a journey of what promises to be some spectacular failures, and maybe, just maybe, an occasional success. Join me, won’t you? I will provide humor, photos, a recipe or two, and some definite DON’Ts when it comes to creating aspirational bakes.
Bake number one is going to be very difficult to top in terms of the absolute epic failure it was. As a relatively new avid baker with a brand new, shiny Kitchen Aid mixer, I decided I would try my hand at that staple of holiday traditions, the gingerbread house.
Apparently, most people use premade kits to build their gingerbread, but I have never been “most people.”
My first steps toward disaster
I found a gingerbread recipe.
I found a recipe for royal icing (aka gingerbread cement), and oh how excited I was to use that shiny new blue mixer to beat some egg whites into stiff peaks, turn the bowl upside down over my own head and marvel at my genius. This icing part worked beautifully, btw.
Now, here is where I think it may have all started to go wrong. I grabbed some flimsy cardboard and cut out some rough templates…by hand. I do not have a super steady hand. Nor am I exactly the most detail oriented person, but figured, what the hay, how hard can it be?
In spite of its structural failings, the gingerbread itself was pretty tasty.
Structurally Unsound, But Tasty, Gingerbread Cookie
This recipe is adapted slightly from The Christmas Cookie Cookbook by Cider Mill Press
1tspBaking sodaconsider leaving this out for nice flat cookies
Beat together butter and brown sugar at low speed until pale and fluffy
Add eggs and molasses and continue to mix on low
Sift flour, spices, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl
Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix until dough just holds together. You may need to add a few drops of water if the mixture is too dry.
Form the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and chill for one hour
After dough chills, let it warm up a bit before working with it
Roll out to desired thickness. 1/8 inch is good for cookies. Maybe go a little thicker if you are building something.
Cut our your shapes or walls or whatever and transfer to baking sheet
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes
DON’T use all of the damn flour. Four cups? The dough was so dry I had to add water just to get it to roll.
DON’T use all of the baking soda. Fluffy cookies don’t make good walls.
DON’T try to roll the chilled dough before it warms up a bit.
DON’T just roll it until you get tired of rolling. Try to roll to a consistent thickness.
And for the love of all that is holy, DON’T use the flimsy cardstock cover of your alma matter’s alumni magazine to eyeball and hand cut your templates. Maybe at least try drawing them out first, using things like rulers and maybe a protractor, or Auto Cad. That might have been helpful.
So there you have it. Will I try again to design, bake and construct my own gingerbread house? Sorry, you’ll have to wait until next Christmas. Just kidding! Gingerbread is a definite “to bake.”
Maybe next year my gingerbread house will look like this:
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