This week I spent two evenings hunched over my kitchen counter, my face ravaged with concentration wrinkles, my throat sore from forgetting to drink water, making this gingerbread house.
It turned out pretty well, but the heavy snowfall on the roof was not a creative decision but a necessity: the royal icing, which acts as glue, filled a lot of holes.
I realized that making one of these doesn't require so much an affinity for fine pastry work as it does a skill for construction. I bet that any carpenter could make a better one. I had some problems gluing the walls together (which side to which side again?) and I now know that I should have made larger roof panels to allow for overhanging eaves on either side.
I went a little far with the real sugar windows, but they're so beautiful when the sun shines through them. Besides, that's the part I remember Gretel nibbling on. Once I got the sugar caramelizing, I thought I might as well make a pond, too. I tinted it blue-gray for winter ice.
And I was glad that I saved the plastic figurines from my deer hunting opener cupcakes to populate the yard. In my mind, the yellow gumdrops are path lights. The cracked door beckons Hansel and Gretel to come inside . . .
Any country house worth its salt has a ready rifle leaning by the door. And a wood pile (cinnamon sticks).
I couldn't have done it without my makeshift pastry bags. Rifling through every cooking tool box I had didn't yield the pastry bags that I know I have, somewhere, so I had to improvise. I pushed the coupler to the corner of the plastic quart bag, secured it, cut the tip and then fitted a tip onto it. Pretty slick. I was able to change the tips on all my colors.
Speaking of, I surprised myself by mixing colors that were so "Christmas at South Beach"--aqua and coral--but then after looking at my old Hansel and Gretel Golden book from childhood I realize that I replicated it pretty well. Subconsciously, I suppose.
How pretty is that?