Thursday, 5 December 2013

Christmas Workshop I

It is a countdown to Christmas Day. This is the most pleasant stress I have been put through - so many plans and projects, so little time to do them. Every year around Christmas, I feel trapped in my own fear that the time is not enough to accomplish everything. And this is only because I want to do all - I put in my "ToDoList" everything I like. But than I realize that one life is not enough to plan, work and finish all I want for Christmas.

Snow came earlier than anticipated this year. Even though I still have this bugging feeling of being behind the schedule.

I started a project that I will need for a Christmas Party. It will be full of kids - not even sure how much more than a hundred would they be. At first I wanted to do monogrammed snowflakes, but as soon as I realized they will be so many, I decided to make something else:

Petit pains d'épice / Gingerbread biscuits

170 g unsalted butter
170 g shortening
250 g brown sugar
2 large eggs
340 g molasses

750 g flour
5 g baking soda

4 g salt
5 g ginger
2 g cinnamon
1 g ground cloves

In a bowl, measure the flour, adding the spices. Set the bowl with the dry ingredients a side. Beat the butter and the shortening together, until creamy. Add the sugar and beat at medium high speed until combined. Add eggs one by one, beating after each addition until well incorporated. Beat in the molasses. Set the mixer at low speed and start adding the dry ingredients in portions.  If the lowest speed of your mixer is still higher than stirring, you better stir in the dry ingredients by hand using a spatula. Wrap the batter in cling foil and leave in the refrigerator to chill for an hour. 

I used the rolling method - thinning the dough to 6 mm. For the purpose of this project, I rolled the dough in a rectangle. Then graphed it into 4 cm squares, baked the whole rectangle at 190C. After the baking, I immediately cut the squares again to separate them, while they are hot, and left them cooling on the pan.

I need my whole rectangle - this is my canvas. I used a large wooden board, glued each square one by one to it with royal icing, trying not to loose the shape. During baking all the squares became oddly shaped quadrilaterals. If I do not transfer them to the board one after another , I will loose the rectangular shape of my canvas. It is still not perfect, of course, but my puzzle pieces have to match at least a bit.

Kneed a piece of sugar paste, roll and cut in smaller than 4 cm squares. I cut 3,5 cm squares from the sugar paste. Cover each of the petit biscuits with the pieces of the sugar paste. Because they are smaller, but perfect squares, and our biscuits are somehow differently shaped, with a small rolling pin, roll over the covered biscuits until you spread the sugar paste to the desired shape of the biscuits. This works in two ways - allows us to shape the sugar paste to the biscuit shape and also, nicely glues the paste.

Cover the whole rectangle. I did not strive so much for perfection. I wanted to achieve a nice working surface, but also wanted to have the look of a rough puzzle pieces.

This is my canvas. I have an idea what I want to achieve but I have no clue how this will turn out to look like. In any case, I need to wait an overnight for the sugar paste to dry out, so I will breath for now and plan the other things for Christmas.

Until tomorrow ... with hope that this might look the way I imagine it.


Three days later ... the result.

It looks as if my girls did the picture and I wish they had done it. I love the winter!

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