I bought a few kits last year and ended up letting them sit there. I grabbed one out this year and checked to see if it was in usable form...I knew this was going to be a practice project and would never even be considered edible in any form or fashion...so I went with the year old, hard as a rock Wilton gingerbread kit.
I had bits of bags of royal icing left over from my final decorating day yesterday (the 23rd) so I got all set up to "play house". Since I had imagined completely frosting a yard around the house with snowmen and trees, I decided to use a 12" cake round instead of the included small rectangle. I also basically ditched the candies in the kit (they had not fared so well). I had leftover royal icing transfers I imagined using in different ways, I had several candies I had on hand I considered using, and I pulled out my tools, food color paint palettes and paint brushes. I was ready to roll.
I first planned (in a very vague way) how I would decorate each panel. I knew it was hard to pipe on a vertical surface so I did the basic door and windows while laying down and dried under a fan until very well crusted. I regret not painting the door to look like a wood door, I like how the windows turned out - piped white royal icing and then painted with yellow food color, then painted a tree in one window and candles in another. When they dried I piped black window frames and window panes. The sides didn't even up like I expected, but, well... it was my first time. I had some leftover Santa belts and a Santa nose that I used for door hinges and a door knob (clever huh?) and I had a holly transfer that I hung on the door. The sides were painted or used transfers and the back used some "learning curve" poinsettias that I have had on hand for about two years (no one is eating these). Once the basics were finished I was ready to start constructioning.
I followed the directions for basically putting it together...and I'd seen other cookie artists struggle with keeping the roof jacked up, so I was ready for that. Ironically, it was hard to keep the roof positioned...my stabilizers kept sliding. With help from Mr. Flip Flop I got it set so it held and I put a fan on it for less than the 4 hours recommended. I started messing with it after an hour.
I kept adding and adding "stuff" and by the time I was at a point where I thought I was finished, my arms ached from piping that incredibly thick royal icing provided in the Wilton kit. I have heard others say to throw that away and use your own...but I didn't listen. I will pay for that tonight, I'm sure.
It was at this point that I showed it to my husband and asked if he thought red dots on the roof would be too much or kind of cool? He thought it would add to it... and as you know, I love the dots! Now, I've done this entire thing with tipless bags except for the black window frames and the plastic tip included in the kit for piping the thick "glue" consistency icing. My arms ached too bad to even consider finishing "the yard". This puppy was DONE. One thing I know is that anyone who can pipe vertically is just awesome. The scrolls, vertical, with a tipless bag...well, that was hard to do.
I have learned a lot through this endeavor...one of the things is "shorten the roof overhang"! Another, pipe anything difficult while the piece is laying down. And, one final thing...always pipe the icicles hanging off the roof last. It was challenging piping on the sides up under the eaves. A most basic little gingerbread house...but it's MY gingerbrad house and I feel kind of proud of it for a beginner project. My husband said "what are you going to do with this?" (like I was some sort of crazy person to do all of this work on Christmas Eve Day) My reply? I'm going to look at it and enjoy it in the same way we look at the Christmas tree we decorated... it has no purpose other than to give me some joy. That's worth all of the time and effort...even if it goes in the trash within a week or so.
I hope each and every one of you does something that gives YOU joy...something that has no purpose, but just feels good. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!