The December 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers' everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandanavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.
As I have said before, I like to cook and sometimes I like to bake, but my strength is not with the artistic skills necessary for things like beautifully decorated cakes and cookies. And that goes double for gingerbread houses! On top of my reluctance to do a project like this was the additional problem of still-recovering hands (which made rolling dough difficult), the tail end of a flu/cold which really sapped my energy and a very sore ankle which affected my ability to stand for any length of time. Woe is I!
After feeling sorry for myself and posting a note on Daring Bakers that I probably would not be able to participate, my darling daughter, Elisabeth, came to the rescue. She devoted a whole day to assembling a gingerbread house - not just any house, but a geodesic dome, which took architectural skills, physics knowledge, incredible patience, and enough good humor to survive and overcome all the problems and obstacles. And the icing on the cake (literally) was that she and her boyfriend, Sean, spent Christmas afternoon decorating the creation, complete with satellite dish, outhouse, Christmas lights around the front door, decorated trees, fences, snowmen and other little details.
The template for the dome was basically a triangle, but Elisabeth also made some trees, so she made a template for 3-D trees, as well.
Here are some of the many, many (50-60) triangles she needed to make the dome.
The dome was a challenge because it could not have any permanent internal supports. She tried several differents methods of construction: just building it with skewers to support the dome - FAIL; building inside a bowl, with the plan being to "unmold" it when it was solid - FAIL; and, the final solution, build it over an upside down bowl and let it get really, really hard before removing the bowl.
Once the structure was done, we set it aside for several days, made sure we had lots of candy to decorate, and waited for Christmas for the final stage.
This is it! The details are hard to see because there is so much going on, but there are some snowmen in plain sight, a tree with a star in the background, and lots of candy embellishments. My favorite additions were the little string of lights around the front door and the satellite dish on the roof. Both were made from Tootsie Roll miniatures, as was this little creature: Doofus, Elisabeth's cat, ready to pounce.
And here are the artists, celebrating their success. Note the particularly cute adornment on Elisabeth's head - a gift from Santa. A little hard to see, but goes well with her HO, HO, HO t-shirt.
So my Christmas blessing this year was clearly Elisabeth and Sean helping me take on a challenge that threatened to overwhelm me. It was probably more fun watching them than doing it myself. Family can be really great, can't it?
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year's to all!