Malto Mario


The Lady & Sons

1,000 Italian Recipes

Thursday, December 24, 2009

'Tis The Season

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

I don't even know how to start. First I should make it clear that the following post is not meant to offend Anna or Y, our lovely hostesses this month. They had a great idea and lots of members really enjoyed themselves.. and that's terrific!! But let's face some facts here, shall we?

  • The baking Gods already hate me with a white hot passion.

  • I can barely dress myself, open an envelope without getting cut, or walk & chew gum at the same time. And I'm asked to erect a building made of cookie dough?

  • The baking Gods already hate me with a white hot passion.

  • I went into this challenge with a positive attitude despite the obvious roadblocks in my way. I was kind of excited to decorate it.. went shopping and bought all kinds of neat candies and edible items to use. I even thought I would erect a split wood fence with pretzel sticks. Cute, huh? Mmm hmm..

    The first bad omen was my thumb is still pretty useless. So kneading the dough would be out of the question (and no, I can't knead with one hand - TRUST ME I need both hands to do just about anything :P ). When this happens, I call in my favorite Sous Chef, Hubbs. That morning before work, I left out all the ingredients for Y's dough recipe - with instructions for him to make the dough.

    When I got home that evening I opened the fridge to check the dough out and it was uhmm.. very very brown. Almost black. (bad omen No. 2) So I asked my Sous if he had run into any problems during the dough making. "Nope." was his reply. Okay, well I have only ever made ginger cookies in the past, never ginger "bread" so I thought maybe this is what it was suppose to look like.. maybe it'd lighten up after resting over night. I didn't have time to worry about it because we had grocery shopping to do.

    Next morning... Nope that dough stayed black and turned rock hard. I took it out to come to room temp about 10 hours before I was going to roll it out - yeah yeah, I know. I wasn't thinking clearly. I had just woken up BEFORE the crack of dawn and the habit is for me to take what I'm going to need for dinner out of the freezer each morning before work. I was awake enough to realize it was Saturday and didn't need to take anything out, but not awake enough to realize that 10 hours was probably a lil too much for dough to come to room temp. But 3 hours and two cups of coffee later when I remembered I had taken it out way too early, it was still ROCK HARD. I used a chef's knife to stab it and then pull a chunk off - and I swear to the baby Jebus, the fakkin dough had age rings inside. You know, like a tree?? Like a petrified tree of gingerbread dough?? OHMYGOD.

    So I brought my slab of petrified gingerbread over to my husband and presented it to him. "Are you sure nothing went wrong yesterday?" "Nope." Now something obviously went wrong - but we'll never know what. "Well f*ck" I said to myself. "I've got 3 women and 1 tween coming over in a few short hours to make gingerbread houses (plural), what the f*ck am I suppose to do now?" (bad omen no. 3)

    Luckily, Recipezaar came to my rescue. I needed a dough that I could make tout de suite that didn't need refrigerating. I actually found one! And it didn't sound half bad. So I immediately ran into the kitchen to get started on making the new dough felt relieved and decided it was time for a nap. DO NOT JUDGE. I'm very sleepy on Saturday mornings.. it's unfair that I get up while it's still dark outside on the weekends too. So I relish being able to go back to bed right around the time I'd normally be jumpin in the shower to go to the dungeon. It gives me pleasure. DO NOT DENY ME THAT!


    Anyhoo.. yes, I went back to bed. (omen no. 4? or is this 5?) Normally my lil weekend naps last all of 2 hours.. rarely longer. Unless, of course, I'm expecting 3 women and 1 tween over to make 4 gingerbread houses + make them dinner. No, on those occasions I end up sleeping FIVE hours - after I woke up and looked at my clock, I shot outta the bed so fakkin fast that I forgot to throw the covers off first, which got tangled with my legs.. forcing me head first into the wall beside my bed. GAH. (bad omen no. fakk it, I'M DOOMED)

    So, 'kay.. do the math here kids. I took the original dough out 10 hours before I needed it. I checked it after 3 hours and realized it was petrified shite. I then slept for 5 hours. That equals 8 hours. Ten minus 8 equals HOLY FAH-REEG!! I'VE GOT 2 HOURS TO MAKE AND BAKE ENOUGH GINGERBREAD HOUSE PANELS FOR 4 HOUSES PLUS DINNER FOR 5 PEOPLE.


    Okay I'll spare you the cursing and then slamming things when I found out that my Sous Chef used ALL OF THE GINGER in his petrified dough and didn't feel the need to tell me WHILE WE WERE GROCERY SHOPPING. Fast forward to 5 pm'ish when the gals arrived. I had JUST finished prepping dinner and I had managed to only make enough dough for ONE house. I figured I'd make more dough while we were eating dinner, but the gals all decided that one house would be plenty. Bless their cotton socks.

    After dinner we immediately started to erect our house. Keep in mind, there were 4 adult women working on this - and at one point, Hubbs joined in. We started with a side panel and the front panel and lots of royal icing. My panels had turned out wonkey after they baked, but that's what the icing was for, right? The first two panels seemed to stay together pretty well.. and then we moved on to the 3rd panel.. so this one wasn't as cooperative as the first two. No big deal. We'll just use some of the frosted mini-wheats that were for our roof shingles to prop up the inside of the walls. We got it under control. We're women. Hear us roar.


    While we did get all for sides of the house to stand straight up, when we put the roof on (already covered in shingles and 20 pounds of royal icing) it:

    1- Made the walls start to cave in a wee bit.
    2- Kept sliding off because they were too heavy.

    So what do 4 intelligent women do in this kind of a situation? Why, they go get the blow dryer, of course! "We need to dry this icing out so the pieces parts will stay!" someone said. Yes, we made the Beavette stand there with the blow drier until the icing set up and stuck. Unfortunately, that never happened. Someone else said, "Dudes, the 14 layers of icing below the layer we're trying to dry has to dry first." And that was it for us. We'd been working on it for about 4 hours - not one decoration on it - and we gave up. We put a box over it and then stood their and discussed who was going to decorate it. They tried to put it all on me but I wouldn't have any of that shite. They started this with me, it was their rightful duty to accompany me on this gingerbread from hell journey.

    June and The Beavette said they'd be back the next day to decorate.. but something came up so it was cancelled. Next day, same thing - cancelled. Finally we managed to keep Thursday open and spent 2 fun hours (no really, I had fun!) decorating the house. I got one side, June got another, and The Beavette decorated the rest. I think it turned out really cute. But I still couldn't wait for it to be out of my house. So when we were done, I packed up the remaining 90 pounds of candy for The Beavette, found a box for the house and didn't give them a choice but to take it all with them. *grin*

    Many many thanks to my girls: Blimey, June, The Beavette, and Amy (we need a name for Amy!) for another fun filled night together.. can't wait for the next one - but NEVER AGAIN with the gingerbread. heheee!


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    Comments on "'Tis The Season"


    Blogger Lauren said ... (12/24/2009 12:35 PM) : 

    Well I hope you enjoy the next challenge (its mine!). Although you had some troubles, the house looks fantastic Lis!


    Anonymous Jenny said ... (12/24/2009 1:00 PM) : 

    I'm with you, Lis. I don't think I'll be making a gingerbread house again. Not that I didn't have a blast but...I did one, now I can move on! Of all things, your story was hilarious - and I think that makes a great baking sitch, even if you thought the results turned out meh. Sounds like you had fun, after all the running around like a madwoman!


    Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12/24/2009 1:46 PM) : 

    It's FLIPPIN' adorable!!!!!!!!

    Petrified Gingerbread dough!! "W" is the man!!!

    You know I love ya for this and every other giggle, guffaw and all out rip roaring laugh your posts give me! I also love ya for being the wonderful, sweet, game addicted person you are!!!

    Merry Christmas Peaches


    Blogger Kiyi Kiyi said ... (12/24/2009 3:22 PM) : 

    Well, GREAT story!
    I really enjoyed reading it! Even if your gingerbread house wasn't perfect you made it entertaining :)
    It is a super cute house!
    Great job!


    Anonymous Wolf said ... (12/24/2009 6:07 PM) : 


    I tried making a second, smaller, umm... something, using Y's recipe and it.. just.. No.

    I used half the batch for my single house and the rest was tossed.

    Now I'm off to make MY recipe of Lebkuchen and this weekend do the second umm, something, I had planned.

    And I'm with you- 5 hours after I took the dough out of the fridge, it was still rock hard and crumbled when I tried to roll it. I had to knead in another 1/2 cup of water to get it workable. And forget using the mixer, it'd have burned it out.}:/

    Your house still looks cute though, all issues aside}:P


    Blogger Hoboken Cupcake said ... (12/24/2009 9:26 PM) : 

    Wow! So my experience was pretty similar to yours, but your posting makes it sound SO much better. Ha Ha... I told my husband that if our unborn children want gingerbread houses, they will have to go to a friend's house. I will NOT be making them again.


    Blogger Karen | Citrus and Candy said ... (12/24/2009 10:16 PM) : 

    LOL what a fun post (not that I'm laughing at your expense of course!). Despite the mishaps, I think your house is kickass :)


    Anonymous kellypea said ... (12/25/2009 3:50 AM) : 

    I LOVE your gingerbread casita! And there's no way you're getting me to believe your dough was black. Wait. And W made it for you? Dang. My resident hunkster would no way have dough waiting for me when I got home. You are hilarious. And a stud. But you already knew I thought that. I bow to your awesomeness.


    Blogger zorra said ... (12/25/2009 4:01 AM) : 

    Alles gut, Ende gut, as we say in German. :-)

    Happy Holidays to you.


    Blogger Jill @ Jillicious Discoveries said ... (12/25/2009 9:24 PM) : 

    You always have a great story to go with your dhallenges! I think your house looks very cute and festive--I love all the candies!!
    Merry Christmas!!


    Blogger creampuff said ... (12/25/2009 9:24 PM) : 

    That hair dryer pic is classic! Hey, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year my dear! Another great year behind us and hopefully an even better one ahead!


    Blogger Sue said ... (12/25/2009 9:49 PM) : 

    You prevailed! Great job!


    Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12/25/2009 10:19 PM) : 

    I think your house turned out great....Congrats. Gingerbread is not easy, but it can be fun! I've only made the precut houses never my own gingerbread.....


    Blogger Sheltie Girl said ... (12/26/2009 10:34 AM) : 

    You are too funny! I loved your story. Great house and I loved your outdoor fire touch.

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go


    Anonymous amber said ... (12/26/2009 11:46 AM) : 

    Hil-freaking-arious! What a great post and almost too out there to be true. I was freaking out over a broken wall.....but now I see I should have been grateful for just that. Great house and what fun to have friends help you decorate! New Year's resolution for myself...get friends! :)


    Blogger Y said ... (12/26/2009 4:18 PM) : 

    Oh my gawd, you're cracking me up! I love that this is even filed under 'traumatized'. Not to laugh at the misadventure or anything, but.. at least you had 2 hours of fun during those two days of hell.. right? Right? (ok, maybe not :) )

    ps: Wonder what happened with that 'black dough'?


    Blogger Jo said ... (12/26/2009 7:36 PM) : 

    Haha, it was fun but kinda stressful as well. I too had pre-thoughts of my own house collapsing on me in the midst of everything and my hubby even asked me to use a hair dryer too. Anyway your end result is great. Hope you had a great Christmas and happy holidays.


    Blogger Aparna Balasubramanian said ... (12/26/2009 9:13 PM) : 

    I'm realising that DB challenges are a lot of excitement in your kitchen and lots of laughter for me! :D

    You have to give yourself a lot of credit for managing to create such a cute house from within all that chaos.

    Happy Holidays and best wishes for a very Happy New Year!


    Blogger Rachel said ... (12/26/2009 10:37 PM) : 

    I still love that house!


    Blogger Sarah said ... (12/27/2009 7:58 AM) : 

    Oh well, on to the next! Looks cute in the pictures.


    Blogger Mary said ... (12/27/2009 10:51 AM) : 

    You are hilarious! I didn't even read the recipe we were supposed to use! Kneading gingerbread sounds scary. It's much easier if you do it with standard gingerbread cookie dough. And I think despite your problems your house came out really really cute!
    Merry Christmas!


    Blogger Unknown said ... (12/27/2009 6:15 PM) : 

    What a great read! I felt like I was there with you. Despondent then exhuasted then doubled over laughing and having lots of fun in the end. Certainly a challenge you will never forget!


    Blogger UFRV said ... (12/27/2009 6:50 PM) : 

    Wonderful story, it's all about having fun, no matter what happens :)


    Blogger Alpineberry Mary said ... (12/27/2009 7:00 PM) : 

    Heehee. What an adventure! Or should I say misadventure? Looks like it worked out in the end. :)

    Happy new year!


    Blogger Elle said ... (12/27/2009 11:44 PM) : 

    Because you keep at it, one day (probably not soon, I hope not soon, but oooonnnnnne day)the baking gods will love you and we will all miss your absolutely hilarous posts! Cute house BTW. At least YOU made your gingerbread house!


    Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12/28/2009 5:27 AM) : 

    Great story, I always love reading your posts! The roof was a pain in the ass to stick, I agree!! Great fun making it though and yours looks great!


    Blogger Meeta K. Wolff said ... (12/28/2009 6:10 AM) : 

    when you emailed me about the house i was in fits! what a hoot but so good to see that you conquered this one lis! hugs!


    Blogger Faery said ... (12/28/2009 8:14 AM) : 

    He he I love the story of this gingerbread. Lis your gingerbread house is gorgeous,


    Anonymous MandyM said ... (12/28/2009 6:11 PM) : 

    Ah Lis... I'd say I'm sorry that the baking gods seem to dislike you, but it sure does give for entertaining stories! lol! You had a good time and it all came together in the end so I'd say it was a success, petrified dough and all :)
    All the best for 2010!


    Anonymous Lisa said ... (12/30/2009 12:42 AM) : 

    I think a gingerbread house was part of the list of things to do before I die, and now I did it, so check! lol However, your house turned out really cute, and I love that you had fun with your friends (Does 'Beavette have anything to do with 'Beaver?') making it. LOL@ the petrified dough. Mine turned dark in the fridge too, but baked up light, so maybe that's just a gingerbread 'thing'?


    Blogger Lori said ... (12/30/2009 9:50 PM) : 

    I would love to be at your place for one of these challenges. I think I would pee my pants from laughing so hard. Not at you silly, with you. You totally crack me up. That pic of "beavette" blow drying the house is priceless!


    Anonymous veron said ... (12/31/2009 9:14 PM) : 

    Sis, your gingerbread house looks fantastic. At least you can say you've made one. I on the other hand, never had. Happy New year!


    Anonymous Juliana said ... (1/05/2010 5:47 PM) : 

    Happy New Year! Funny story behind the gingerbread spite of it, came out very cute...


    Anonymous PR agency said ... (1/07/2010 12:49 AM) : 

    What a lovely and cute sweet house !I think it is really very delicious and you are so great !Thanks for sharing!


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