10 January 2009

The Apprentice

The week before Christmas I entered into an apprenticeship from which I knew I would be sure to never hear the stern words of Donald trump: "You're Fired". I was not however ruling out the possibility of a quick divorce as I undertook a gingerbread house construction project with my husband.

In actual fact, the project went rather smoothly.

My husband took some architecture classes in college, so he drew up a quick and very accurate blueprint. I was in charge of the baking portion. I hauled out my trusty, well thumbed copy of Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies magazine, and peeled apart the pages that were slightly stuck together with molasses - unsulphured blackstrap molasses, that is. Measure, mix, chill, roll, and then measure twice, cut once.

As the gingerbread roof panels were in the oven, I encountered the first problem. I was using a silicone cookie sheet liner that was slightly too big for my cookie sheet. It started to wave in the middle, causing the roof panels to warp and curl slightly. I pulled them out of the oven and tried to remove the liner from beneath the cookies. This was not an easy feat, and in my attempts, I cracked one of the panels quite significantly. I was ready to start fresh on a new panel when Darcy suggested we just fit it together as best as possible since the dough was still pliable, and then wait to see if it held together once baked. I was sceptical but agreed to try, since after all, if it didn't work, it would simply be a delicious mistake. Miraculously, it did work. The panel fused itself back together, but there was a very obvious fault line still visible. The real test would be whether it would stand up in construction. Lesson learned, the walls were baked without further incident.

You can see the obvious cracks in the roof panels, especially on the broken piece on the right.

After the pieces cooled, I used my trusty Kitchen-Aid to beat senseless a heap of royal icing. I made it extra thick, and extra dry. The consistency was pretty close to actual building mortar. My husband gingerly piped and pieced the walls together. With our breath held, he lifted first one roof panel into place and secured it with extra icing. The severely damaged roof panel went on last. It turns out that with enough icing, anything is doable! It held together as one piece, and it clung to the rest of the house without issue. Wheeeeew... and resume breathing.

After the house was given time to settle and dry, my husband decided that to ensure the safety of future ginger generations residing in the house, the roof should be further secured. Strips and strips of icing were applied, and the roof was shingled in red smarties. Sturdy and delicious. Mike Holmes... take note!

Now as every girl knows, the fun part of home design is in the details. Window trim, landscaping, and candy! This was my task. I piped on (slightly irregular) windows, and a (slightly irregular) candy cane doorway. The landscaping included a stripy round mint walkway, and green and white gumdrop shrubbery. The final touch, glittery white snow.

It was exciting to see the entire project come together. And I was ecstatic to learn that gingerbread demolition is even more enjoyable.

*nom, nom, nom, nom*

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