Thursday, December 8, 2011

~Christmas Workshop~ Gingerbread Mansion

It's a good thing...or is it?

I built a chateau a few days ago, a three story mansion to be exact.  It is  nestled into the countryside of Vaucluse, a region in France's beautiful Provence.  Oh, OK. The walls were made of gingerbread and the architectural details were made of icing, the backdrop is a photograph of a meadow and trees from that region of France.  I  can dream, can't I?

Making the gingerbread house was a lot of work.  On the other hand, I had the opportunity to practice a few life lessons while making the house such as patience, concentration and a little nerve.  The little "what the hell" mentality, or a just-go-with-it attitude helps immensely.  It was tough not to get bogged down worrying about messing it up.  But, I followed Martha's lead and I was not disappointed.  Why am I not surprised?

The gingerbread mini-mansion that I constructed was from Martha's book Entertaining, published back in 1982, a year after I was born.  I tried to no avail to locate the online recipe for this project to share with you, but maybe you can get the gist of it from my pictures?  Or, pick up your own copy of the book, it's worth the investment.  Actually, Martha has recently published an updated version of this book that I will eventually add to my collection, already possessing the original edition.

Martha Stewart in her kitchen back in 1982.  This picture is from her book, Entertaining.   


I hope you enjoy checking out my chateau.  It was fun to make (when my nerves didn't get the best of me) and it entertained me very well for several days.  Additionally, Martha's all-inclusive website has a myriad of gingerbread recipes from which to choose.  There, you can select various styles of houses and no-bake cookie cottages.  Here are a few examples of what you can find on the website.

"Swedish Gingerbread House"

"Snow-Swept Gingerbread Cottage"

"Woodsy Hideaway"

"Gingerbread Town Square"

Photo Gallery

Below are several pictures detailing the steps involved in building the chateau.

The Gingerbread Story

 The house-making has begun.  The first step was to cream the butter and brown sugar.

All finished. 

Once everything had been added (eggs, butter, sugar, spices), I let the dough sit in the refrigerator overnight. 

Next, I traced the gingerbread house template onto computer paper.

After that, I traced it again onto a paper grocery bag.  The brown paper bag is a thicker material that will hold up when I'm trying to cut out the house from the dough.

The next day I let the dough chill on the countertop for about fifteen minutes before rolling it out.   

I worked in several batches.  Here are a few of the pieces cooling on the baking rack.  After the gingerbread house walls and details were finished the next step was to make the royal icing. 

This was my very first experience with royal icing. Confectioner's sugar and egg white is all that is needed. I must say that royal icing is much thicker and more challenging to pipe and force from a pastry bag than buttercream frosting.  I definitely got a hand workout.  The icing of the house was done over a two day period during bursts of "down time".

We decided to have some fun with the icing.  Face paint?  Why not.

After that, we used the extra gingerbread dough to make cookies.

Jordan and his gingerbread man.

Ben was kind enough to assist me with the gingerbread assembly.  Having an extra set of hands when making a gingerbread house is very helpful.

The house was standing in no time once the sides were "glued" together . Small lights can be placed inside to add a soft glow to the house. 

The chateau is now aglow.

~The chateau is ready for a visit from Santa~


yinzerella said...

You. Made. That.
I don't think I can read your blog anymore. It makes me feel bad about myself.

The Green Mama said...

All the blog posts that I do are not beyond the skill level of anyone. It's just about motivation and the love of creating things and sharing things.

The Green Mama said...

No, Yinzerella. Anyone can do what I did. I just followed the instructions. So now you can feel good about yourself. :)

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