This is what comes from thinking you’re the cat’s bloody whiskers.
Come December and I feel compelled to bake and make and generally pursue Super Mom status. But the thing is I am rubbish at it. I need help folding when I attempt paper snowflakes and I have started (with maximum love) embroidering two towels that ended as wash cloths or something equally low because chain stitch is not my forte and good intentions are not enough when trying to sew an elegant K.
So it was with much patience and some foreboding that Kuki watched me start a Gingerbread House. It looked adorable and easy in the online Interactive Christmas Guide. The writer spoke coyly of how she made it with her tiny daughter and how they glued together broken bits with caramel and it was all very “Deck the Halls” and snow drifts. So I started with much misplaced bravado.
Admittedly, the dough was divine. It had enough ground almonds, root ginger and orange zest to take anyone down.
The first road block was the various shapes I needed to roll out, place on butter paper and bake. Kuki cut me lovely templates (he’s Virgo) and said “Follow these and you’ll be set.” But the angles befuddled me (I’m Pisces) so I rolled them templates in a ball and threw them away. Said road block can be broken down as follows:
1. No large flat baking trays
2. Oven not big enough
3. How do you roll these extraordinary shapes on a 8” diameter ….(what do you call the marble companion of a rolling pin that we roll chapattis on?)
Reader, my style is usually slosh in some wine, splash in some extra virgin. You know what I’m saying? But, I am hugely intrepid if somewhat undomesticated.
1. I rolled out roughly (very roughly) the sort of shapes that I would require
2. I placed them on butter paper (acquired from a recently purchased baguette)
3. Got Kuki to hold the oven open for me as I gingerly placed the sheets, tray-less, in the oven.
Oh, the fragrance of cinnamon and clove that filled the house gave me a Martha Stewart moment for about 6 seconds. That is, until I had to take the sheets out and place them somewhere flat where neither cat nor human would sit on them. All the while Kuki kept up a stream of barbs about “Kirtu’s ruins….Mohenjo Daro…the heap from Harappa…Stonehenge…”
Dear Reader, I ignored all the above because the writer of the recipe had said she “patched up everything with caramel and a showering of icing sugar” so I knew I had a few weapons left in my arsenal.
Assembling my pile was another story. But again, Kuki to the rescue. Muttering beneath his breath because I threw away his perfect template, he held panels (‘tis true, they sadly resembled Harappan ruins) as I tried to glue uneven surfaces together with caramel. Finally! We had a barn like structure with a high ceiling and gaping hopes between wall and roof.
Then the bliss of pouring snowy white royal icing on the roof and sieving icing sugar over everything. Reader, the recipe was right! It looked magical. Zui got into it at this point and a strategically placed wreath and Santa lolling on the chimney just completed the picture. Then we added fairy lights and ….My Martha Stewart Moment came home to roost.
By this time I was puffed up with…what is the word for “so self-satisfied and gleeful that others want to scratch your eyes out”? A sort of… “Ooooh, stick that Good Housekeeping, feminists can make gingerbread houses too.” I took about 700 pictures of my adorable little Hansel & Gretel style confectionary and went to bed smiling with Stepfordian confidence.
I woke up to the scent of Christmas in the house. And then I saw it. My trophy, my beauty, my gingerbread house was now a crestfallen and defeated pile on the ground. The fairy lights left on through the night had melted the caramel and the whole precious structure came a-tumbling down…
That’s it. That’s my Christmas Moral: Don’t be imagining you’re Martha Stewart ya'll! Stick with the plebs and buy plumcake from All Saints. Have a happy December everyone!
The colourful round things on newspaper? Part of my new project - Cookie Dough Christmas Ornaments!