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Diary of a Gingerbread House Virgin [photos included]
Joined: Dec 12, 2005
Posted to Thread #17091 at 1:20 am on Dec 6, 2009
Today I was asked to bake a large gingerbread house for a holiday fundraiser in November. I’ve never made one before, but it sounds like fun.
Someone left a phone message about making a gingerbread house??
Seriously? I have to fill out paperwork?? Oh look...they’ve provided a gingerbread recipe that gets rock-hard. How interesting.
Just got a call from the fundraiser contact person. Better get moving on this. The deadline is November 1st and it's not as easy as I thought to choose a pattern.
Today, in a burst of enthusiasm, I downloaded a 3-foot scale model pattern of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. I will—of course—use the approved gingerbread recipe to make it.
Sanity has checked back into the facility. Instead of a 12th century cathedral, I’ve decided to make a 16” house with a roof covered in white chocolate seashells. Won’t that be pretty!
The cardboard model is finally done! Admittedly, it was silly of me to try curving cardboard, but I get to start baking tomorrow. How exciting!
Curses! The rolled-out pieces are too big for my cookie sheets. Back to the old drawing board. At least I can keep making the candy seashells. They are so pretty!
I’m in trouble! This morning, I lifted the 14" baked section of roof and it bent! Then I tested the other baked pieces—and they ALL bent. Then several words that are usually washed out by a mouthful of soap came out of my mouth.
This is all wrong! Bending is not part of the Prime Gingerbread Directive. Bending violates the First Law of Gingerbread House Construction, which is to Stay Upright And Not Bend!
I have a contingency plan if this house collapses: fondant “plywood” painted with the words: “A Hurricane Did This!”
I thought if I left it alone, the gingerbread might harden—like they promised!! You can't build a gingerbread house with walls that gently flop down. Soft gingerbread was BAD.
I called my contact person looking for advice. Turns out she wasn't making a house....she was making a gift basket. So I called my contact person's contact person. Turns out she couldn't help me because she wasn't making a house either!
I did, however, find out who my fellow competitors would be:
*the head of the culinary division for a local college
*the head of the culinary division of the local community college.
*a bakery owner for 30 years who also teaches cake decorating at Michael's
oh...and a former winner of the Food Network gingerbread competition.
I’m pretty sure none of them are GBH virgins.
After hanging up the phone and banging my head on the countertop until my eyes watered, I decided to re-bake the gingerbread. And today it's hard! Of course, the roof and wall edges look like flashpoints from an arson scene, but hey! they don't bend.
Called my contact person to confirm that I would definitely be able to deliver a house. That's when she said: "I can't wait to see your theme!"
When I replied that I felt lucky just to have a house that existed in three dimensions, her disappointment was actually palpable through the phone line: “You don’t have a theme?"
Dearest Diary, I don't have a theme for my gingerbread house entry. I am a monster.
She suggested that I use a Disney theme or a NASCAR theme or just add lots and lots of candy. Then she described a gingerbread house entry from last year that displayed Fred Flintstone... inside his "stone house"... sitting in front of a stone TV... that actually worked!
"Bending Wall Panic" was immediately replaced with "Lack of Theme Panic" like a vacuum that sucks all the air out of your lungs.
October 12th, much, much later at 2:30 A.M.
Okay. I have a theme. I'm still using the house with a seashell roof, but the yard will be decorated with Calvin & Hobbes' “Snowman House of Horrors!”
I’ll give them a theme.
Major breakthrough today! All 17 house pieces are baked and only one roof piece remains a problem. Still making those seashells. Hope it true that Royal Icing holds like cement. I'm going to need it.
Yea! I just gave birth to a 3.4 pound gingerbread roof! I'm off to show...oh crap!!
Well...apparently, Royal Icing does not have the holding capability of cement.
Although I was wearing an apron over my shirt, I found flour inside my bra! How is that possible? [Note to Self: Scratch off Hitman as a potential career move as “self” would obviously leave incriminating evidence behind.]
So I've been wondering....is a gingerbread house technically a gingerbread house if it doesn't have a roof? And really, how important is a roof? Wasn't it Mies van der Rohe who said: "Less is more"?
Roof #2 is thinner, but still bends. I’ve added a Styrofoam wedge underneath Royal icing and beveled pretzel rods to support and carry the weight of those darn seashells shingles.
Maybe I should just tent the entire thing with a large piece of orange fondant and say the building is being treated for termites?
October 22nd A.M.
Thinner and lighter Gingerbread Roof #2 collapsed last night, possibly because—although it was thinner and lighter—it still had poor self-image issues and felt heavy and thick.
October 22nd P.M.
After I tried spackling the pieces together with wood putty and a blow dryer (why am I not more disturbed by this?), I considered just sucking on a pastry bag filled with Royal Icing until I passed out from insulin shock.
Your Honor, the THIRD new roof will be Foam Core covered with coarse Grade 60 sandpaper to provide traction for the icing because of that G.R.A.V.I.T.Y thingee.
As soon as I finish making these stupid seashells, I’ll cover the darn thing with icing, then slap on the shingles. No support will be visible. Ergo, I conform to the rules. Q.E.D.
October 24th A.M.
Today I used a few non-traditional kitchen tools (a 35,000 rpm Dremel and industrial grade mounting glue) after embracing the whole "structural support is allowed as long as it is not visible" restriction and making it mine.
October 24th P.M.
The house is finally in a x:y:z spatial relationship and sports the “I give up, Gravity. You win” Roof #3. Finished 12 more bloody seashells.
Whose witless, stupid idea was that seashell roof anyway?
I am finally decorating the house and have found that a sharp X-acto knife cleanly trims the gingerbread. [Note to self: A-Positive blood is amazingly similar to Very Cherry Red food coloring.]
Remember that "Three Stooges" episode where Curly goes berserk whenever he sees a mouse and the only way the other two stooges can calm him down is to cram cheese in his mouth?
"Moe! Larry! Cheese!"
"Moe! Larry! Cheese!"
That's how I feel now every time I see the word gingerbread.
I. Despise. Seashells.
Started making my “theme” items out of fondant. That darn penguin kept toppling over so I inserted a 1/4” machine bolt in the bottom to counterbalance $#@^@ gravitational pull. Also, I'm pretty sure none of the other competitors are saying: “Does this decapitated snowman head look like it’s screaming?"
The LED lights are melting the chocolate-covered pretzel trim! Ah-OO-GA! Ah-OO-GA! DIVE! DIVE! DIVE!
October 30th, 11:30 a.m.
BREAKING NEWS!! Wall collapse at the GBH construction site! Rescue crews used a skewer and grappling hook to pull the pretzel rods back into position. Experts claim the wall will stabilize as more Royal icing is pumped in. Their real concern, however, is for the owner, who was found huddled in a corner, whimpering.
Great! Just what I need here...hot flashes!! Hopefully the mailman didn't see me icing this thing wearing a bra and apron. Oh, and there's a 70% chance of rain tomorrow. What kind of karmic payback is that??
Poor GBH has lived its entire existence in an air-conditioned, humidity-controlled environment—much like the way Bubble Boy lived—only, you know, this one's covered in Royal icing.
I tried to calm down by taking a peaceful walk on the beach, but started twitching when I saw a shell in the sand.
November 1st: Day of Deliverance
Today I finished my first gingerbread house ever. It was fun! It’s also my last gingerbread house. Nurse says they don't allow off-set spatulas here at Happy Valley Farms.
~DISCLAIMER: No animals were harmed in the making of this gingerbread house. The penguin, however, may need to see a proctologist.
"Where do you want to be oiled first?"
Other messages in this thread:
- 17091. Diary of a Gingerbread House Virgin [photos included] - MarilynFL - 1:20am on 12/06/09 (14)
- Oh wow Mar, this is great to see in it's entirety. I vote that this goes into Great Threads! Hmmm, - FloriSandy - 2:32am on 12/06/09
- It's already in great threads... I amended it to include this FULL-story link with pics :) >>>>> [NT] [LINK] - cheezz - 6:18am on 12/06/09
- Oh for Pete's (err cheezz sake)! I didn't realize that but I'm so glad it's there for all time's - FloriSandy - 7:01am on 12/06/09
- oh yeah, this has to be the BEST thread there... I crack up everytime I read it :) [NT] - cheezz - 1:10am on 12/07/09
- Absolutely Gorgeous!!! Love the Ice Cream Cone Chimney and the snowmen signs! Thanks so much! [NT] - Marianne - 3:00am on 12/06/09
- Oh Mar, this is made of pure AWESOMENESS - MariaDNoCA - 5:17am on 12/06/09
- Oh my goodness Maria, - FloriSandy - 5:26am on 12/06/09
- [I had a PM request to pull the story and photos together so it could be easily shared.] - MarilynFL - 3:34pm on 12/06/09
- Great to laugh all over again! I had so much fun watching you go through this. - orchid - 9:31pm on 12/06/09
- ROTFL, I love this story. And your gingerbread house was awesome! [NT] - EvaN - 9:46pm on 12/06/09
- Thanks for the memories... - Glennis_NoCA - 9:59pm on 12/06/09
- Standing ovation from Cincy! Mar, where did you find the time/patience? [NT] - Tessie in Cincy - 10:22pm on 12/06/09
- Time was after work and weekends...patience was non-existent. [NT] - MarilynFL - 10:47am on 12/08/09
- I still love those penguins! [NT] - DawnNYS - 12:13pm on 12/14/09