I am only here writing on the blog because I had to sit down.
When I was a kid, my mother made a gingerbread house every year at Christmas time. For mortar, she used sugar, heated to one of those crack stages (soft? hard? I’m not sure). It was very difficult to work with, as it hardened quickly. It made gossamer strings of sugar all over the kitchen as my mother transferred it from the pan to the construction site. If the hot sugar got on your skin, you could not rub it off, so it burn-burn-burned.
This memory puts my current love-hate relationship with Royal Icing into perspective. Royal Icing is the gooey, sickly-sweet stuff you should use to glue together a gingerbread house. It is easier and safer to work with than hard crack sugar (sounds like a drug!), but it is not the best tasting icing, since it contains only egg whites and sugar, but no butter.
After my mother went back to working full-time I took over making a gingerbread house each Christmas. This makes it sound like I was contributing to the family welfare, as if I were milking the cows and bringing in the hay while my mother worked in a munitions factory, but that wasn’t quite the case. She returned to teaching, and I had time on my hands.
My last recorded gingerbread house was made 31 years ago. Land sakes alive, after that, I graduated college and didn’t have time for such frivolities.
Two weeks ago, after the thrill and agony of Thanksgiving had worn off, Younger Daughter and I were looking at photos together, and she saw the one I had made in 1982. She said plaintively, “Oooh! Can we make a gingerbread house together, Mommy? I have always wanted to make one.”
How could I refuse her? We started on Friday, and have been at it all weekend. That is why my kitchen is coated in a fine dusting of confectioner’s sugar, my dining room table is covered with random-looking gingerbread shapes, and my back is killing me. I also have a pain that shoots up my right arm occasionally. YD is on sugar overload from licking Royal Icing off her fingers, but otherwise greatly enjoying our project. That makes it all worth it (but I’m not saying I will do it again next year).
Time to get back to the construction site. In the meantime, here are some photos of what we did Friday and Saturday.
|Assemblage of ingredients|
|The recipe called for 6 cups of flour, which makes enough|
dough to make the Taj Mahal in gingerbread.
|The dough had the consistency of clay.|
|Time was, I had to make my own templates. Nowadays, you|
just download them from the internet.
|YD opted to make bears in place of Santa Claus.|
|Cutting out a piece of the sleigh|