We're making progress, but it's hard to get motivated about gingerbread in October, and I'm not in the mood, most weeknights, to come home after work and put in a few hours of baking. So, that leaves the weekends. Our goal is to have all of the main gingerbread structures completed by Halloween and then we will have ONE month to work on the details. There are so many details planned for our Land of Oz! I just hope we can pull it all off in time.
A large portion of our kitchen and breakfast nook area is now dedicated to this project and our house has the lingering aroma of gingerbread spices, intermingled with sticky, buttery, Rice Krispies Treats.
Yes siree! Approximately 28 batches of Rice Krispies Treats now covers our wood base, forming the ground cover, rolling hills, cliff supporting the Witch's Castle, and tiers of Munchkinland (remember, our base is about 3 x 4 feet).
For the actual gingerbread structures, the rules allow, and encourage, structural support. The support can be made with non-edible materials, so we use white Foam Core Board White, 3/16 inch, which cuts cleanly with an X-ACTO ® knife. This is the Tin Woodsman's Cabin taped together.
We then label the pieces, take off the tape, and use each piece as a template to cut the gingerbread dough. We roll the gingerbread dough 1/4 inch thick, using two pieces of wood as a guide.
Cooking time for the gingerbread pieces varies. You don't want to burn the pieces, but you definitely need to cook it much longer than you would if you were going to be eating it. Here are all the cooked pieces of the Tin Woodsman's cabin. Don't forget to cut out doors and windows before cooking! I didn't worry too much about the appearance of this basic structure because it will be covered with logs to resemble a rustic log cabin.
We made the logs by rolling out the gingerbread and then ever so gently carving some lines and knots to give the logs some texture. It took us three times to get the right size logs and we came up with the texturing idea on the third try. It also helps to freeze the gingerbread pieces for 5-10 minutes before baking. This helps prevent spreading.
If necessary, you can trim the edges of your structure with a zester for cleaner lines.
The foam core board has to be trimmed a little, to allow for the thickness of the gingerbread, before putting the house back together. At this point, you may also need to decide on your window coverings. We plan on inserting lights (from underneath the base, through holes drilled into the base, and up through short pieces of copper tubing). Therefore, we don't want to be able to see into the structure through the windows, but we want a thin layer of window covering so the light illuminates behind the windows. This year, on some windows, we are using a piece of edible frosting paper. Gelatin sheets also work nicely. All visible portions of the completed gingerbread structure must be made of edible materials. For example, you are not allowed to use clear plastic for windows.
The gingerbread structres are glued together with Royal Icing, which is extremely hard and strong when it dries. Here's the very basic cabin, before the roof pieces go on. I have alot of detail work to do yet. In the background, you can see a little mound of Rice Krispies in the earlier stages of landscaping. In the lower right corner, you can see a copper tube for one of the lighting strands.
This is Dorothy's House, in foam core board
And Dorothy's House in gingerbread. We glued the pieces together somewhat crooked. It survived the tornado and landed in Munchkinland, but it's going to be cracked and broken in places. Again, the white appearing in the windows is edible frosting paper. This will be partially covered by window coverings of some sort, when we figure out what to use.
When we woke up this morning, we discovered some minor Rice Krispie avalanches on the Witch's Castle cliff. This week, we will start covering the landscaping and cliffside with icing and fondant to help keep things secure until we are ready to cover the board with poppies, trees, corn fields, etc.
Happy Monday, everyone. I need to go practice some law now.