Friday, December 14, 2007

Pepparkakor Hus

Every Christmas - for as long as I can remember, my mom has made a Pepparkakor Hus. That's Swedish for "gingerbread house." It was a fun tradition - my mom did all the work and I got a house. I also got to take it into my classroom and share it with schoolmates (we'd smash it and eat all the stale pieces.)

That was then, but this is now and we haven't made a pepparkakor hus in years. I have never really had the desire, until I saw this.

Oh really, Red Envelope? You evil temptress with your gifts for every occasion, your clean navigation and nice product photography. Think you can also offer the end-all, be-all in gingerbread houses too!? Think you can just jump onto the mid-century bandwagon and cash in on the trend? $80 for a gingerbread house?!

HA! I'll take your mid-century and raise you a pair of Eames lounge chairs. Actually I called up mom for a plan of attack. Yeah, I'll admit I never could have designed this without her. I am not exactly artistically gifted.

You wouldn't believe how this thing came together - mom got out the graph paper and, using the picture of our house above, she sketched out a pretty good to-scale plan. We cut out the plans, then traced them onto parchment paper. Rolled out the dough, cut, baked and assembled. What a cinch.

Um, OK - not really. Rolling out pepperkakor dough is already a little tricky. It has to be very, very thin. Well, combine the thinness with lots of little window cutouts and doors, argh, it was really kind of a pain in the ass. I was determined though.

Once we baked up all the pieces, assembly began. The thing about assembling these buggers is using the right adhesive. And in our case, this adhesive is molten sugar. Holy hell - this is some scary ass shit to work with. If you get it on you, it immediately adheres to your skin and begins to harden. Needless to say, some injuries occurred.

Assembly would have been much easier if we were actually working with perfectly measured pieces. See the thing is, the dough changes shape once you bake it. No matter how good your original plans are noor how well the rolled & cut dough are, baking it alters the shape. Thankfully my father, who's a builder, was on hand to ovesee the project. Sure, sure, sure - he had lots of tips, but he's used to working with different materials. And plans for that matter. Not so helpful afterall.

Nonetheless, we managed to get it assembled. Mom kept reminding me that icing covers a multitude of sins (can this theory be applied elsewhere?). Indeed it did. Armed with a piping bag and some pretty wicked icing, I went to town! I iced the hell out of this pepparkakor hus. And then it snowed - fluffy, fluffy powdered sugar snow. And behold....


Robyn said...

Seriously, your gingerbread house has a door that opens on it? Forget RedEnvelope, I want RedSonja's gingerbread house please!

pimousse au chèvre said...

Bravo, you seem to have done it wonderfully. I'm gonna try to do one soon. Funny, I have discovered that you have the same swedish cakes and cookies book. Wonderful isn't it !