After hearing a friend lament abut the horrors of gingerbread home construction in the company of her children, I happened to see a kit in the grocery store the other day. I don't have any children to "help" me, I'm reasonably creative and educated, and I've got a lot of time on my hands at the moment. So I bought one. How hard can it really be? Ha, ha. You know what's coming next, of course. What is the saying? Oh, I know, "Pride goeth before a fall." Right.
So here is my rant/review/how-to guide for those among you brave enough to tackle a similar project. Or those of you who just need a good laugh at someone else's expense.
First, the kit.
Step one: Lay out cookie pieces.
Step two: Prepare the base by filling the openings with frosting.
Step three: Begin assembly by squirting a thick line of frosting on the vertical sides of the front and back house pieces. Frosting goes on the back, FYI.
Step four: Insert front and (one) side panel into the frosting-filled slot in the base. Easy. No, really, it was easy.
Step five: Insert the other side piece, making sure it lines up against the icing on the front piece. Then, slide the back piece into place and squoosh everything together.
Step six: Squirt frosting all around the top edges to prepare for the roof.
Step seven: Squirt frosting along the straight edge of one roof piece. Pick up both pieces AT THE SAME TIME and squoosh them into place, forming a peaked roof.
Step seven and a half: Remove roof pieces, scrape off extra frosting and reglue broken pieces with more frosting. Stand there and hold them for several minutes. (Swearing might happen at this point, if it hasn't before. A few choice words made me feel better, even if it did nothing to hold the roof together.) Let the pieces sit for at least thirty minutes before attempting further construction. Just walk away. Trust me.
Step eight: Repeat step seven with your (hopefully) solid roof pieces. Once the roof is in place, leave the house alone for at least thirty minutes before decorating.
On to the decorating. This is where this kit fell short, in my opinion. There were no directions included about how to decorate and only one bag of frosting. I don't know about you, but I have never used fondant before and had no idea what to do with it. Thankfully, Auntie Internet gave me some tips.
I started by warming the fondant for 10 seconds in the microwave to soften it. Then I rolled it out into a very thin layer with a rolling pin. I cut out the door and window shapes, pictured below.
Adding the windows was even more frustrating, as the frosting kept sticking to itself, especially on the perpendicular lines inside the window.
Luckily, decorating the rest was pretty easy (mostly because I completely gave up on trying to make my house look like the one on box). I had some left over frosting in the fridge, so I used that to cover up the roof, with all its shattered glory. The rest was more or less glopping frosting around and squishing the candy bits into it. With my lack of control over the frosting, I skipped the finer details and kind of did my own thing. Here's the final result of several hours of effort.
Upon reflection, I realize that it is very hard for me to follow the advice that I am constantly giving my students: Stretch out of your comfort zone, be unafraid of trying new things, and don't beat yourself up if you make a mistake or things don't turn out quite as planned. In the end, this gingerbread house is quite like me--colorful, a bit random, and messy around the edges. And, no, I won't be working for that Ace of Cakes guy anytime soon (ever!), but I tried something well out of my comfort zone and it turned out, in the words of my loving husband, "Not that bad."
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