If I were being honest, I would tell you that this entire week I was NOT looking forward to making a gingerbread house this weekend. I’ve been really busy, abnormally tired, and craving a 48 hour stretch on the couch. But more than a month ago, I invited several friends over and proclaimed this weekend “MAKE A GINGERBREAD HOUSE DAY” so I couldn’t bail.
Yesterday after work, I made three batches of gingerbread dough and went to bed since I didn’t feel like baking after a full day of work (it has to chill for an hour or so anyway, right?). Then this morning I started baking the pieces. I had printed a very long set of instructions from King Arthur Flour, and although they jump around a lot, baking is an area where I feel like I just need a “guide” and I can improvise. Mostly, I just wanted to cut out the templates (which I recommend for a ginger house amateur like myself).
Baking the pieces was perhaps the hardest part. First off, after a night in the fridge, the dough was a brick and thus the laborious rolling was my fault. I used a pizza slicer to precisely cut my pieces (before AND after baking) so that they would be as uniform as possible. Only one to two pieces fit on a cookie sheet at a time, so there was a lot of waiting around. A baking rack was ESSENTIAL.
I spent last week reading a lot of baking blogs by other people who’ve made gingerbread houses, and they all insisted on using a cardboard template, but frankly I didn’t see why. I was able to get by with paper just fine.
When everyone arrived, we finally started to assemble our pieces.
My friend, Courtney, bought a kit from Joann’s Fabric and slammed it together in less than ten minutes (I mean literally slammed – that thing looked like a tornado hit it). She used a unique technique of slathering frosting with no tools but just her hands; very “cave woman.”
Then my friend, Heidi, freehanded her pieces, but unfortunately they changed size during baking and they didn’t quite fit right. Then she accidentally used the roof as the walls, and at that point it was like, “Let’s just decorate this sucker because I want to eat it.”
Finally, Kristin went all out. She followed a very involved template for a Victorian Haunted Mansion that had so many pieces I didn’t even count. It took our gingerbread house day to a whole new level. She literally had made her own frosting ironwork the night before.
My house was not near as involved, but I was satisfied just the same. Frankly, I was satisfied with that the pieces actually stuck together (notice how useful my glass of wine is to hold the pieces while they dried).
By the time I was done, I was really glad we had gotten together and had some holiday fun. I believe Kristin first described it as something along the lines of frustrated screaming, but once the initial baking and constructing was finished, the decorating was pretty low key.
We discussed the possibility of making this an annual tradition, but I’ll need to sleep on that one. It was so much work…for what, exactly? A decoration? I’m certainly not going to eat mine…but at this point, I better be buried with it.