There’s a moment when you’re sitting in your kitchen with a cherished project, where the royal icing is all made up and just about to flow out of the tip of that pastry bag, and you think back on all the cookbooks you have read, all the baking blogs you faithfully follow, and all the YouTube videos you’ve seen to prepare yourself, and you take a deep breath and say to yourself…
I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.
Which was basically the thought that was racing through my brain the entire time I was attempting to ice my gingerbread monstrosity.
(Can you guys tell yet that the birds are my favorite part?)
As previously stated, I’ve never made anything involving proper gingerbread before, especially nothing that eventually had to stand up and carry its own weight. I’ve never made royal icing and piped it onto a surface before, but surely, reading so much Bakerella should prepare you for this experience, right?
In theory, yes. But in my real-life, very cold, very early morning kitchen…not so much. There’s nothing that can prepare you for drawing with liquid sugar than the very precise act of drawing with liquid sugar for the very first time.
So all that you can do is just jump in and realize that it may be a complete disaster, and that’s totally okay, because you’re still going to post it on your website so that others can share in your delight at your kitchen failure. And then keep taking deep breaths, because with enough patience and toothpicks, it might actually…look…okay.
Not exactly the storybook page come to life you were envisioning, but goddamn it, you drew a freaking boat in sugar! Who cares if there’s a whole bunch of bubbles in there! Not me! I guess! Hopefully!
Now, when you’re getting ready to work with royal icing, people warn you to get ready to work quickly because that stuff dries fast. This might be a big lie, especially if you made sure you were completely ready for this. It might actually take several hours.
It did. It did take several hours, which meant that our big moment of truth was left until this very morning. It was finally time for…The Stacking.
I’m hoping that the addition of graham crackers as a structural element here doesn’t get me disqualified (even though I might already be because my gingerbread seascape is in no way residential).
Ta da! The miracles of three-dimensionality.
Here’s a little bit of what this bad boy looks like underneath, keeping up all those layers.
At this point, I sat and anxiously ate a bowl of cereal, hoping that the whole thing wouldn’t slide apart all over itself before I could stand it up. Then I started to worry about it falling apart when I stood it up for the pictures. And guess what!
It didn’t! It’s actually still standing up on my counter as we speak! (Although, I’m totally going to lay that sucker right back down before I leave for work, because who knows what might happen while I’m gone. The universe might decide to shatter those cookies all over the place. Or more likely, the cat will decide that it finally needs to investigate what the hell has been going on on top of that counter all these days.)
A little backstage action, past the sight lines, so to speak.
You guys, I am so excited. I know that there’s no way I’m going to win anything in this contest, what with the non-house, non-traditional, non-gingerbread, so completely non-perfect elements at work here, plus…these people are super-serious about their gingerbread houses. Movita‘s going to lay the smackdown, and I just. Cannot. Wait.
Sometimes getting up weird and early to bake cookies and play with sugar in order to make something completely impractical is totally worth it. Because you get to take super moody pictures of it in the morning light and feel pretty dang good about yourself.