Saturday, December 20, 2014

Rush Construction Job

Today on the blog we examine this important question:  Is it possible to make a gingerbread menorah in less than three hours?

The answer is yes, with two conditions: the batter is already made, and you have had a vision, in the middle of the night, on how to construct it.

Here's how to do it, in twelve steps.  

1.  Decide with Younger Daughter to make Gingerbread Tardis (following Smalltownme’s suggestion last year!).

2.  On Saturday, make gingerbread batter and put it in fridge overnight.

3.  On Sunday Younger Daughter abandons interest in making Gingerbread Tardis.  At the same time, realize that there is a “home-made menorah” contest at the synagogue’s Hanukkah party, coming up on Tuesday.

4.  In the wee hours of the morning on Monday, come up with an idea on an appropriate shape for your menorah, one that will relate to the Hanukkah story.  And that shape would be a hammer.

Hanukkah is a celebration of the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem, after the Jewish guerilla army won the war against their oppressors.  One of the leaders of that guerilla army was Judah Maccabee (Maccabaeus) which means Joe the Hammer.

5.  On Tuesday, the day of the party, decide at 1 PM to see if you can do it.  Find a real hammer in the tool chest.  Trace and cut wax paper template.  Fire up the oven, roll the gingerbread dough, cut the pieces.
Some useful tools
Rolling and cutting
6.  Find an actual Hanukkah candle.  Make holes for candles in the dough.  Realize belatedly that matching up these holes once the dough is cooked is going to be nigh impossible.
Spacing the candle holes.
But this is pointless because the dough expands a bit while
baking so the holes will not be big enough for
regular Hanukkah candles.  Maybe for birthday candles...
7.  Put the gingerbread in the oven.  Go practice the Christmas cantata piano part while it is baking.  Make the house smell like burnt gingerbread by burning all the pieces of your gingerbread hammer menorah.  Remove from oven, sighing.
Burnt hammer head pieces.  If you make one piece shorter,
then you can make an actual claw on your hammer!

Burnt hammer handle pieces, with useless candle holes.

8.  While the gingerbread is cooling, mix up some “Royal Icing”.  It will likely refuse to form “stiff peaks” so keep adding more and more powdered sugar.  Eventually give up and hope it is not going to be impossibly drippy.  Decide that no, you will NOT be embarrassed to take this gingerbread menorah to the Hanukkah party.
Gloppy, sticky Royal Icing.  Do not let little kids near
this stuff if Aunt Gertrude is coming over any time soon -
it will make your entire house sticky.
9.  Frost the first layer of your gingerbread, then stack on the next layer.  Poke a toothpick in each candle-hole to clear out the icing.  Realize that this method is fruitless, and you will never get actual candles in there.  Cover the rest of the Royal Icing to keep it moist.  Leave the sides unfrosted while you look for decorations.
Partially frosted hammer menorah.
Note that I made an extra hammer-head piece, which was a
good thing, because one of them broke.

Okay, this thing is not a toothpick.  It's some kind of weird
tool I found in the back of the kitchen drawer.
An escargot extractor, maybe?  But why would I have that when
I never make escargot?

10.  Scrounge around for decorations.  Finding none, go to grocery store.  Buy Hanukkah gelt (chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil).  In candy aisle, find blue Sour Punch Bites, which probably taste disgusting, but could be used as candy candles, which is a fun thing to say.  Feel up the bag to determine if the candies really are shaped like candles.  Buy Lifesaver Gummies in the hopes that the candy candles will fit inside them.  Buy sno-caps chocolate nonpareils just because.
More tools
11.  Go home.  You still have an hour.  Using pizza cutter, slice chocolate coins in half.  Realize that this was a mistake, since the foil immediately falls off the chocolate.  Glue the foil back on with Royal Icing. 

12.  Cover your entire hammer shape with gobs of icing.   Sprinkle with blue sugar that you found in the back of the closet, and stick the candy on in a festive pattern.  Find out that the Sour Punch Bites do NOT fit inside the Lifesaver Gummies.  Who knew? Jam a toothpick into each candle hole.  Stick a Sour Punch bite on each toothpick.  Find that a little bit of toothpick is sticking up.  This is a Hanukkah miracle!  Cut little bits of orange and red lifesavers and stick the pieces onto the toothpick ends.  These are the candle flames.

Voila!  The Miraculous Gingerbread Menorah of Judah Maccabee.
Sorry there are no intermediate photos, especially of the
 Hanukkah miracle when the toothpick ends were sticking
out.  I was in a rush.

Aerial view.

Here are a few of the other entries in the menorah contest.  I thought these were much cooler than mine.  The tube-shaped tissue paper ones have a little electric tea light inside each one!  And who would ever have thought to make a menorah out of Knex?  One person made their entire menorah out of lifesaver candies, with lollipops as candles!  And the melted crayon one is so beautiful and artistic, and has real candles which match the crayon colors.  There were more, but I didn’t get photos of them all.
Tissue paper menorah!

Crayon art menorah!
That menorah on the left is not "home made" and was
on the wrong table.

Knex menorah!

Lifesaver menorah!

Happy Hanukkah!  Now back to practicing the piano part for the Christmas cantata.


smalltownme said...

I'm sorry the Tardis didn't materialize but you nailed the menorah.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

LOVE your menorah! You are talented.
That crayon art menorah is pretty cool, too.

Ha! Heidi said "nailed"....very punny!

Cassi said...

I'm amazed at how you got the lifesaver pieces up on the toothpicks as flames. Inspired :-)

That crayon one is a plant. Totally professional artist there! Also, the completely-lifesaver one is just kind of scary.

Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas!

slow panic said...

The fact that you made the hammer gingerbread menorah and took photos during the process in amazing.

Loved the crayon art menorah too. Always wonderful to see people's creative interpretations of anything.

Love it.

Anonymous said...

Bummer about the Tardis, but that's some accomplishment! Pretty nice collection of menorahs.

Patience_Crabstick said...

Your menorah is awesome!

The Crislers said...

Your gingerbread hammer is impressive! There's no way I could have made that shape. It would have been a gingerbread stick with a blob on top.

Now I'm going to be singing, "I'd hammer out JUSTICE! I'd hammer out FREEEEEDOM!"