Megan Again: Overcoming Gingerbread Adversity
By Megan Wirts
Gingerbread houses are an iconic part of the holiday season. Who doesn’t think of a cute little house made of cookies and candies when they think of Christmas? It’s a time-honored tradition for most households. However, when I was a kid we didn’t make gingerbread houses very often, and I understand now why my mother wasn’t a huge fan of them.
They are sticky, messy and really flipping annoying to make.
I’m just not a big fan of the candy covered houses, because I’m not a big fan of candy. If you have read my previous story about my “issues” with certain sweets, you will understand why I would rather not have something that involves gumdrops near me. *shudder* Anyway, it’s a long story. To put it simply, I don’t like candy, unless it’s chocolate…but I digress.
Then one night...
...we all watched some holiday baking show where they were making ginger bread houses. Immediately my children began begging me to make one of our very own.
Small People: Please, mama, please! You can totally make one. You are an amazing baker! You are so talented. You are better than these people on TV.
Me: *Blushing* Well, if you really think that…maybe… (What can I say; I’m a sucker for a compliment.)
Small People: Oh yes, mother. You are, you are the best!
Me: Oh, sure, then. Let’s make a ginger bread house! (Total sucker.)
I scoured Pinterest for an easy recipe and we gathered up all the ingredients. (No gumdrops!) I decided that I didn’t want to make a huge ginger bread house. We were thinking a tiny cabin or chalet of some kind, so I halved the recipe. At least I thought I did.
I started mixing the dough and all it did was turn into a giant crumbly mess. I had my daughter read the recipe to me again and I double checked my math and everything seemed to be right, but the dough was not agreeing with my math skills. Something was off. I added more water, more eggs, more flour, only to be left with a pile of gingery garbage.
This wasn’t turning into gingerbread. It was becoming ginger crap. What was I to do? Well, I’ll tell you. I tossed my miserable ginger failure into the garbage and sent the husband to the store to get some premade gingerbread dough. “Perfect”, I thought “I can’t mess up the store-bought stuff.”
Guess what folks? Yes, I can.
I preheated the oven and laid the premade dough out on the cookies sheets. It looked so easy, I should have known it would be too good to be true. While the dough baked, I prepared my royal icing. I had my boy measure out the powdered sugar while I separated the egg whites. Here’s a tip, do that in a separate bowl so that you don’t get shells and yolks in places you don’t want it. However, if egg shells do get into your icing, you can just tell people you wanted to give them a little “crunch factor”. It works.
Anyway, I finished up the icing and I checked on my gingerbread. Half of it was still light colored, while the other half had turned a dark shade of burnt. I quickly pulled it out and tried to salvage as much of it as I could. Was this house ever going to be built?! I wasn’t sure at this point.
I found a simple printable template on Pinterest and attempted to cut out the walls and the roof of the house after I had let the half-burnt cookie cool down. Surprisingly, this actually worked out. I had four walls and a roof. I was starting to feel cautiously confident about this project. My small people had hope back in their eyes.
We made a small base out of cardboard wrapped in tin foil, it was shiny and silver. It was perfect. I loaded up my piping bad with the icing and away we went. The first wall went up, it stayed! Then the second and the third! It was happening! Our ginger bread masterpiece was coming together. I started to get a little too overconfident, and with reckless abandon began piping icing here and there and everywhere!
Then disaster struck.
The right wall began to cave in causing the roof to slide down! We all screamed and reached for the collapsing structure, which then caused the rest of the house to topple over. It looked as if a candy cane tornado had destroyed our sweet little home.
After a few choice words were spoken, I looked at my small people and with conviction said, “We will rebuild!”
We were able to save most of the important structural elements and this time I was more careful with the icing and we even used a blow dryer to speed up the drying process. (Thank you, YouTube.) With a few strategically placed tooth picks and a few prayers, our ginger bread house was standing tall.
We covered that gingery goodness with M&M’s, caramels, peppermint patties, and candy canes. My kitchen and my small people were ridiculously sticky and messy, but we sure were proud of that little gingerbread house.
It might not be the prettiest one…
And it probably tastes like crap….
But it’s ours and we love it.
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