14 Dec2006

gin1

Those of you who have been reading this blog for more than a year know that my annual Christmas Gingerbread effort is near and dear to my heart. It is a big deal, one of the most important events of the calendar year…something that is a tradition like no other gin2in our small house and small immediate family. Collectively, the gingerbread memories of the past 11 years are among the strongest in my food filing cabinet imbedded in this silly brain. Rain or shine, typhoon or not, harried or relaxed, we have managed to make a gingerbread house since the first Christmas of the Kid. I wrote extensively about my thoughts on Gingerbread on Christmas Eve 2005 (a worthwhile read if you are the really true blue Christmas spirit type of person), but didn’t get to post the recipe earlier last year. Then, sometime in May/June 2006, a poignant request from a reader with a cancer-stricken child requested that I post the recipe so she could attempt it when she was visiting home from the UAE, where she works. So I obliged and have actually posted the recipe albeit in the middle of the hot summer. So here is the link to the actual detailed recipe. The next few posts will comprise the mother of all Gingebread Serial Posts from start to finish, molds, dough, baked pieces, candies, icing, and the results. I will even post a no-gingerbread, “gingerbread house” for beginners who don’t want to tackle real gingerbread! And at the end of the posts, a surprise… so please enjoy the next entries, even if you can’t quite get why this is so important to me…Gingerbread in our house signals the start of the Holiday Season in a big way…

Before anything else, the annual gingerbread extravaganza requires some planning. Discussions with the Kid yielded a concept and we proceeded from there. This year the idea gin3was to create a “New England Winter Scene” and since we spent a Christmas Vacation in Vermont two years ago, we had a visual of what we wanted to re-create. Next, my assistant who has been with us for over a decade, created a multi-level platform in styrofoam and made the structural forms for a “barn,” a “log cabin” and a “church or meeting house.” The styrofoam is necessary in Manila due to the high humidity that affects the gingerbread. My assistant has watched me from the first time I created a gingerbread house for the Kid 11 years ago then evolved into large homes, castles, barns, carousels, Madeliene’s House/School, St. Basil’s Cathedral, a block of New York City Townhouses, villages, etc. and today, he is actually more meticulous and better at creating the base structure than I ever was. Without a solid foundation, the effort would be a wobbly one, to say the least! As you take out the ingredients, mix the dough with all those heavenly smelling spices, you will understand why this is so much more than just a hard brown cookie…

 

COMMENTS:

  1. joey says:

    Hooray! Can’t wait to see the whole process :) Lucky Kid! :)

    Dec 14, 2006 | 10:57 am

     
  2. Maria Clara says:

    I am awaiting with great excitement the alpha and omega of your gingerbread house.

    Dec 14, 2006 | 12:17 pm

     
  3. deanne says:

    i cant wait for pictures of the finished product!! :-)
    i’ve wanting to bake my own gingerbread men; i think it’s soooooo much easier than a gingerbread house/town. my problem has been finding ingredients… :( i’m also not fond of using a lot of sugar for the icing!

    Dec 14, 2006 | 12:27 pm

     
  4. Jacqui says:

    I will be forever grateful to you, Market Man. These posts came at a very opportune time for me. This is the first Christmas when I am giving in to my oldest’s fervent wish to bake gingerbread cookies at home (I’ll leave the houses to experts like you and Martha).
    I have been putting it off until he is big enough to handle the simple tasks of baking and cooking. Now that he is four, I am hoping the whole process won’t create too much of a mess. For the past months, he has been eagerly awaiting every morning for me to cook breakfast so he can help beat the eggs, so I guess he is ready for his first gingerbread adventure.
    Unlike you, however, I may just get a gingerbread kit at Target or the neighborhood grocery store to make the experience less stressful (for me!). Besides, they are already on sale.
    I am eagerly awaiting the pictures you will be posting of your gingerbread “New England Winter Scene”.

    Dec 14, 2006 | 3:43 pm

     
  5. emz says:

    can’t wait to see the finished product :)

    Dec 14, 2006 | 8:44 pm

     
  6. Mandy says:

    MM, i wish i was as good a parent as you. maybe i should try this next year for christmas! the kid is lucky to have you. and i would’ve loved to see the madeline gingerbread house, “we love our bread, we love our butter, but most of all, we love each other…”

    merry christmas everyone!

    Dec 14, 2006 | 9:44 pm

     
  7. Marketman says:

    Mandy, I have to see if I have a digital photo of Madeleine’s house…it might be before the digital era…I can tell you, the hardest bloody part was making the black wrought iron grills for the windows…and I did individual grey slate roof tiles… If I find the photo, I will post it for you…

    Dec 14, 2006 | 11:20 pm

     
  8. blackpearl says:

    This couldn’t have come at a better time, MM! The hubby and I are going through a financial bump now and we’ve had to give up a couple of our Christmas traditions which our children always look forward to during the season. To make up for this, been thinking of making a gingerbread house with my daughters, among other things. We do a lot of baking during the holidays but I thought a gingerbread house which they would decorate themselves would brighten up everyone’s spirits. Thanks MM!

    Dec 15, 2006 | 5:53 am

     
 

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