Christmas is over! And what have we done?
If you’re anything like me you overextended yourself with baking.
My tradition for the past 5 or 6 years has been making a Gingerbread House or Forest to display on Christmas Eve and devour on Christmas Day. This year I made a Forest and some biscuits with the leftover dough. I also attempted some German-style Zimtsterne biscuits (Cinnamon Stars) which were less successful than I would have liked. But the Gingerbread; nailed it!
So, it helps to have helpers when baking. Not sure my two-and-a-half year old was the most useful Elf at my disposal but Baby Dreamland loved helping me make the Gingerbread dough. I have a great recipe that was given to me then lost then found again. I mostly follow the recipe but always add more spices because I like a spicier biscuit.
Making the dough doesn’t take too long and rests in the fridge overnight ready for the fun part the next day!
The next day I had another helper, my sister Bianca Dreamland. She is a much more useful Elf! To be honest, the forest isn’t a huge task; roll out the dough and cut it with 5 different star cookie-cutters that increase in size. Most trees require about three sets. Once you get a few in the oven you can start on cutting the next and it’s like you have your own Christmas Cookie Production line!
Once they’ve cooled the trees need to be stacked; biggest stars to smallest. Usually we glue them together with royal icing (egg whites and icing sugar – it’s as strong as cement!) but this year we decided to coat each star in GREEN royal icing so that the trees were all green. Way more festive! Before the icing goes hard, which is pretty quick, add some edible baubles and glitter to the trees and voila! You have a bunch of cute trees! Mushrooms out of marshmallow bases and pfeffernüsse tops make the forest more foresty.
This year I got super clever and made a little campfire among the trees out of chocolate pocky sticks. The flames were made from Christmas tree shaped Haribo gummy lollies… Genius! I know! I’m so proud!
While the Gingerbread Forest was taking form I was struggling with the sticky Zimtsterne dough (which is just almond meal and meringue). Instead of just cutting stars (too sticky for that) I had to manually fill star cutters and pop each one out! Tiring! Then you add plain meringue to the top and bake! Sounds amazing, right? Built in burnt meringue icing on a chewy biscuit! Good in theory but somehow they fell really flat. Surely it’s not my fault? Not sure they make the cut for next Christmas.
Lastly, we cut out some extra shapes in the Gingerbread dough; circles using a glass and snowflakes using a cutter I bought. Then to decorate! This year we brought our A-Game! For the circles I did a simple white royal icing on the top with some m&m’s on top; Christmas Puddings!! For the snowflakes Bianca used glittery white icing from a tube and sprinkled gold and white edible glitter flakes on top; Gorgeous!
And that was that! Christmas saved (not really) by our Gingerbread Forest and Gingerbread cookies! Not much was saved by the lacklustre Zimtsterne.
Everyone loves a Gingerbread centrepiece on the table and my family especially loves destroying it on Christmas Day!
Delicious, beautiful and festive!
Kirby in Dreamland
Materials: No more than $40 of groceries
Extras: Approx. $40 of cake decorating stuff that’s stored in my pantry and gets used often
Time: 7ish hours i.e. a day’s work
Difficulty: (1/5) (Not so difficult, just pretty time consuming at the busiest time of year)
Satisfaction / Pride Level: (4/5)