Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Part V - Gingerbread City 2009: Fondant the Yellow Brick Road

Fondant the Yellow Brick Road...we've decided that will be the title of our entry for Gingerbread City 2009 - The Greatest Stories Ever Told! 

We're getting down to the wire!  We just received notice that we must deliver our structure to The Grand Del Mar, Ballroom loading dock, at 8:45 a.m. on November 30.  I hope we don't have far to walk, because this thing is starting to gain some serious sugar weight!

Last year, our Brownstones & Batali entry didn't really come together until the final days.  Poor Pammy, our good friend, was still frantically making flowers in the wee hours of the morning before we had to deliver our entry to the Torrey Pines Hilton.  Thankfully, she's offered to do the same this year and I may have to recruit a few more friends, considering the hundreds of poppies, trees, and grass we have yet to grow.

In my last update, Part IV - Gingerbread City, I left you with our Land of Oz, covered in snow.  The Tin Woodsman's Cabin needed some roofing, the Munchkinland roofs needed some houses underneath, Dorothy's house was still naked gingerbread, and the Witch's Castle and Emerald City were still in the very early stages of construction.  I felt guilty not being able to share more progress, and was compelled to supplment that post with a recipe and photos for Quick Apple Streusel Coffee Cake.  I do miss my regular blog posts, and hope to get back on schedule after December 1 with a few fabulous recipes for the holidays.

But, for now, our gingerbread noses are pressed to the grindstone and I'm still hoping for a spectactular result.

Here, the wood base is still covered with Rice Krispies Treats and Royal Icing.  You can see the Tin Woodsman's cabin, which now has some fondant roofing; a few tall spires for Emerald City, still in naked gingerbread; Dorothy's house, also still in naked gingerbread; and a little progress on the Munchkins' houses. 

Inspiration for the Tin Woodsman's Cabin....

Our Tin Woodsman's Cabin, so far....

Inspiration for Munchkinland...

After messing around for too long attempting round houses, and completely frustrating myself (and John) in the process, I opted for little hexagon-shaped houses. The sides are glued together with royal icing and I left three window openings for each house.

I wrapped the houses in rolled fondant, textured with a brick pattern (2 houses) and a stone pattern (the other two houses).  Here's the stone-pattern fondant press

I made fondant cut-outs for the windows and doors, which still need some details added.

So far, our edible, confectionary, ingredients consist of Rice Krispies Treats, Gingerbread, Royal Icing, Licorice, and Rolled Fondant.  Royal  Icing is the "glue" that holds all the gingerbread pieces together.  It is also used for attachng decorative fondant to the structures and making some of the flowers, trees, and grass.  I previously shared our Gingerbread recipe.  Here is the recipe we use for the Royal Icing "Glue."

Royal Icing (Double Batch)

8 cups (approximately 2 lbs) sifted Confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons Meringue Powder (Just Whites is the brand we use)
10-12 tablespoons water

Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix on low speed for about 7 minutes.  Store in covered container.

And here is the recipe we use for Rolled Fondant:

Rolled Fondant

1 Tablespoon unflavored Gelatin
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup Glucose (you can substitute light corn syrup)
1 Tablespoon Glycerin
2 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening, such as Crisco
2-3 drops of desired liquid food coloring
8 cups sifted Confectioners' sugar (approximately 2 lbs.)
2 tablespoons Gum-Tex
Cornstarch and extra Confectioners' sugar to dust surface for rolling

Combine gelatin and cold water.  Let stand until thick.  Place gelatin mixture in a double boiler and heat until dissolved.  Add glucose and glycerin and mix well.  Stir in shortening, and just before it is completely melted, removed from heat, and add color.  Mixture should cool until lukewarm.

Next, place the sifted confectioners' sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and briefly combine with the Gum-Tex (we added Gum-Tex last year and found it worked really well to keep the fondant more pliable and smooth).  Using the dough hook, and with the mixer on low, slowly add the lukewarm gelatin mixture and continue mixing on low until the fondant is thoroughly mixed.  The fondant should be smooth, pliable and not stick to your hands.  If it is too soft, add more sugar.  If too stiff, add more water, a drop at a time.  Use immediately or store in an air-tight container.  We make the fondant as needed and use right away for the best texture and results.

To roll fondant, first spray work surface and rolling pin with vegetable spray and dust with a mixture of confectioners' sugar and cornstarch.
Dorothy's House now has shingles, made of Sour Strawberry Licorice Belts.  We cut little notches along one edge and then glued them onto the roof, slightly overlapping, starting from the bottom edge of the roof and working up.  The roof is lopsided because the house was transported to the Land of Oz via tornado ;-)

For the siding on the house, we rolled out fondant and cut strips with the little fondant gadget you see below.  We let the fondant dry on a cornstarch/confectioners' sugar dusted baking sheet, so it would retain its shape, and then glued the strips onto the sides of the house.  Again, we started from the bottom and slightly overlapped the fondant strips.  Obviously, there's much more detail work ahead for Dorothy's Kansas farmhouse....

John has been very absorbed with the Witch's Castle, and it's looking quite witchy.  Here's another inspiration photo:

The castle has made quite the transformation....

Gingerbread pieces glued together with Royal Icing

Rolled Fondant stones, individually shaped, textured and glued on with icing

Textured stone flooring between the first and second level

Close-up of the decorative whatchamacallit-support-thingamajigs

Fondant tool used with a baby square cutter to fashion the outer Castle wall.  The Stones at the top of the wall and at the top of the tower have notches cut into them. These are called crenelations and this is so the defenders of the castle could either fire arrows or hurl other projectiles at the attacking army while still remaining protected.. The height of the tower was important because they could look out on the surrounding lands and look along the length of the tower.  This has no significance in the Land of Oz, but is an interesting tidbit.

More decorate roof tiles made with the fondant tool

This is how it looks now, but John has much more detail and color enhancements in mind...

BTW, these details are all in his own mind and, apparently, I'm not privy to this classified information. This seems to be the unspoken solution to preventing us from tearing out each other's throats during this 2-month gingerbread ordeal. He has his assigned parts to complete, and I have mine. So far, he's only had to sleep on the couch one night ;-)

The Emerald City needs some attention, very soon.  This part makes me a little nervous.  Emerald City will be perched on a grassy knoll, surrounded by poppy fields, bringing the height of the structure to almost three feet.  Transporting this baby is going to be loads of fun.

Here's a pretty picture of the rock candy crystals which will soon adorn the Emerald City.

Tonight, we started applying the next layer to the board...colored pieces of underneath the Emerald City, forest green underneath the Tin Woodsman's Cabin, and brown underneath the corn fields and apple trees.  Most of this will be covered by landscaping, but we wanted a nice, smooth base layer and color underneath.

That's about all we have to share at this point.  The next two weekends will be very hectic, but I hope to get at least one more update posted prior to our delivery date.


Rose said...

OMG! Look at your city!!!! That's incredible!

Carmen said...

OH MY!!! This is amazing!!!!

Carolyn Jung said...

I am floored by your gingerbread city. It's amazing. I love all the textures. You guys really outdid yourselves this year.

Cardamom said...

That is wonderful! :)

cheers from Newfoundland,