December 11, 2008

gingerbread in da house

walking in a ginger wonderland

When I was young, my mother and I made a gingerbread house together every year. And by "together," I mean that she had to mix, cut, bake, assemble and frost the house while I undertook the arduous tasks of putting M&Ms on the chimney, dusting the top with powdered sugar and taking all the credit.

I've always wanted to make one on my own, but the task seemed too daunting. This year, I decided to give it a go, Mom by my side. Read on for the making of the house shown above.

here we go...

I used Mom's gingerbread recipe and pre-cut house pattern. It was all in Swedish, meaning we had to make some metric conversions and wing it a little (darn you, dessertsked, for being somewhere between a teaspoon and a tablespoon).

1 wall, half a roof

At this point I looked at the pieces I had painstakingly cut out according to the pattern ... and was unsure whether this was all going to come together.

it was hard not to take a little nibble

But when the pieces came out of the oven, they were suntanned and nicely crispy, and my confidence returned. That is, until I remembered that next up was the hard part: putting the pieces together using sugar melted into a syrup that would dry strong enough to hold it all up.

The sugar was scalding and prone to dripping on my hands. There were a few moments when I had to stifle swear words and pause to suck on a burnt, blistered finger — which is exactly what my mom used to do all those years ago. It was a nice bonding moment.

cheers to quick thinking!

After we applied the sugar, we had to hold the pieces in place as it hardened. We stood there for a few minutes, each gingerly holding a wall or a door at the correct angle. Time slowed to a crawl. Sugar refused to harden.

"Now what?" I asked my mom. "I just held it and waited patiently," she answered, because she's a nice, patient woman. I am not. Instead, I grabbed all the mini vodka and akvavit bottles I could find (as a good Swede, I have several) and used those to prop up the walls so we could keep building.

now THIS is a party house

While the bottles did have a certain charm to them, they were no substitute for the candy decorations we were about to use to bling out the house.

I always go straight for the chimney

We sorted M&Ms by color (thanks for the help, Dad!), I piped on the royal icing, and we all affixed M&Ms, peppermints and Christmas-colored jellybeans wherever we could.

home very sweet home

Gingerbread steps leading to the house, green M&M grass, some tree-shaped cutout cookies and a generous dusting of powdered sugar "snow" was all that was left to complete the scene you saw at the top of this post.

Yes, my first foray into gingerbreadland looks a bit drippy and rustic. But that's what makes it unmistakeably homemade.

You can feel free to spend $4,320 on this fancypants gingerbread replica of Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House if you like, but I'll choose three days of quality time with my parents, the satisfaction of trying something new and a home filled with the warm, spicy scent of gingerbread over that any day.

Posted by Eva on December 11, 2008 in Food and Drink

Permalink | Comments (9)

9 responses to "gingerbread in da house"

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It would be nice to have the recipe for the gingerbread and the sugar syrup otherwise what's the point.

Wow - that looks great :)

Looks great!
Do you have the recipe for the Gingerbread dough by any chance? Thanks so much and Hppy Holidays!

Em, thanks for the compliment.

Veronica and Alina, I will do my best to translate the recipe from Swedish and metric, and find substitutions for the ingredients my mom bought in Sweden and brought with her to my place (I told her she was nice).

As for the sugar, Veronica, there is no real recipe. You just melt sugar in a pan until it caramelizes and keep the heat low so it doesn't burn. And watch your fingers to avoid any drips!

We've made many gingerbread houses over the years. Suggest you pick up a book at a local bookstore. It will have recipies for the gingerbread, royal frosting & other items, plus patterns. We have even made candy windows poured into the frame & cooled. No show pieces, but lots of family fun (&work). We started with the "kits" from target....

Ok...I've never thought of myself as a sappy person but I guess I must be because after reading your comment about how spending the time with your parents was best part of the process all I could think if was how sweet your story was and how I should do the same with my mother this Christmas. Never once did it cross my mind to complain that you didn't include the recipe. I mean, COME ON! Have a little Christmas spirit people!!!

Beautiful gingerbread house! My mother and I made a similar house when I was little, but we alternated the chimney m+ms with dark brown and tan. Tough to find the tan m+ms anymore. You sure have a wonderful mother!

I would love the recipee, my mother just sent a premade gingerbread house mix from the UK to NZ but it broke, don't want to tell her but want to make a new swedish style one.

Just need the Ginerbread recipee, anyone got one please. My daughter desperate to make one as am I to please. Easy though I can cook but not good a baking