Saturday, December 22, 2012

How to Make A Gingerbread House

Congratulations! to everyone who participated in the "Budding Masters Gingerbread Workshop" at the New York Botanical Garden, and made such beautiful little one-of-a-kind Gingerbread homes!
STEP 1: Idea and Design 1. We start with a sketch
2. Then we make a 3 dimensional dummy display house out of cardboard (or foam core)
3. Cut out templates. Templates are pieces of paper cut in exactly the shapes and sizes of the houses.  We uses these as guides to cut out our shapes of rolled out gingerbread dough. *See video at end of post for how-to.
STEP 2: Make the Dough, Bake & Cool 1. Make recipe for gingerbread cookies, below
2. Refrigerate the dough 
3. Use a rolling pin to roll our the dough to about 1/4" thickness
4. Use templates to cut out the shapes of your house 
5. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until slightly browned on edges
STEP 2: Make the Dough, Bake & Cool  1. "Glue" the walls and then the roof together with royal icing (see video at end of post)
2. decorate with colorful candy, icing and fondant
 Gingerbread Cookie Recipe (from the quintessential baker,  Patti Paige)
9 oz. unsalted butter
7 oz. brown sugar
1 ½T ground ginger
1T cinnamon
½t ground cloves
1t salt
2 lg. eggs
18 oz. dark molasses
32 oz. all purpose flour
2t baking soda
1t baking powder
Cream together butter and sugar. Add spices, salt, egg, and molasses, and beat well. Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder; add to butter mixture and beat again. Chill dough for several hours. Heat oven 350 degrees. Roll dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut into shapes. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool.
*Royal Icing: For this project we made our royal icing out of Meringue powder because it sets up and is stable faster.  Follow directions on package, (combine Meringue powder, water and confectioners sugar).
If icing is too thick, add a little water. If too thin, add more sugar. Spread on gingerbread pieces or decorate with pastry bag and tip.

above: template for the basic "classic" style gingerbread house from our workshop.  Print out at 100% on an 8X10 piece of paper.
Thank you again to Papabubble, NYC for the most amazing candy:
*Here is a super quick & a little cheesy (in-the-best-possible-way) stop-motion video from HowCast to show you the basics on how to build a gingerbread house:

*This last house was made for our dear friend, Michelle who lost her house in hurricane Sandy.  (Small gestures of love at a crazy time can help).

Saturday, December 1, 2012

"Out My Window" NYC Gingerbread house

"Woodbine Street" is a couple of NYC theme Gingerbread buildings complete with a gingerbread train on an elevated platform we just did for the NewYork Botanical Garden
It was photographed by Gail Albert Halaban. Gail recently published a photography book called Out My Window.  The amazing images in the book are shot from one neighbor's window into another neighbor's window, and we thought it would be fun to do some gingerbread houses from the same perspective.

*See information at the end of this post for a MasterCard® Budding 
Masters Gingerbread House Workshop we're having on Sat. 12/8 and 12/15

This house is very personal to me because its based on the Brooklyn and Queens flats I grew up in.  We hung our laundry out to dry on lines outside our windows that led to our neighbor's windows across the way, and everyone looked into everyone else's windows.
There was an elevated train platform outside my aunt's building a few blocks away from us, and people on the trains looked in the windows too. 
Through the windows in our gingerbread houses people are sending each other presents, gifts of love and good wishes, and lights and joy.  There will be a train in the foreground as a little remembrance of that train platform that I grew up with.  
Its also designed in part to reflect the big windows we have now in New York City.

The hand made figures are close to my heart as well. Above is the real version of the boy in the window, in front of a shop window, and both of this kids looking out a window in Paris.  (From here on out the photos are by me of details and delivery.)

Papabubble (at 380 Broome Street @ Mulberry Street) factored large in our building this year.  I'm a huge fan of of their custom hard sugar candies. They are jewels of brilliant color, patterns, messages and wit. 
Papabubble also generously contributed some of their amazing candy for an upcoming Kids Gingerbread workshop in support the New York Botanical Garden (details below). 

While the Herman Miller Marshmallow sofa kind of cries out to be make out of... marshmallows, this little mini is made out of hard candies. These candies come from Japan and with a design referencing the work of the artist, KAWS, who kids might remember from the Thanksgiving Day Parade this year.

We start with is and idea, a dream or a memory for the house. The next step is to plan, first with a sketch, then with a 3 dimensional dummy display of the house we want to make out of cardboard in the size that I'd like to make the house.

Out of that model we create templates.   The templates are pieces of paper in exactly the shapes and sizes of the houses to use to cut out our shapes of rolled out gingerbread.  We number everything, so that we can fit it together later. 
The next step is figuring out our colors and decorations, this year I wanted to have some people, furniture and lights on the inside of the houses so that there's a warmth and a loving glow from within. Then we figure out the details...

*Gingerbread workshop: During an exclusive MasterCard Budding Masters workshop, kids ages 8–12 will have a chance to make their very own gingerbread house with me and it will then go on display with the professional bakeries Gingerbread houses.
Dec. 8 & Dec. 15th Workshop time: 2-4 p.m. Ticket also includes All-Garden Pass access for participant (ages 8 - 12) and one Adult to enjoy all of the Garden's offerings, including The Holiday Train Show.

Thanks for taking a look! I hope we see you at the gardens.

Monday, October 15, 2012

How to make Puppy Cakes

Not long ago we made some Puppy Cupcakes  with Martha Stewart.  This time the dogs are in the house again with a Puppy CAKE decorating party.

(The boys decided to march to the beat of their own drum.  So using the same basic materials, and equipment we have a great robot cake and "robot-mouse" cake.)

 IN ADVANCE: 1. we baked the cakes in a sheet pan and cut out three round layers for each cake with a 4-inch stainless steal round cake ring  (you can also use round pans if you have them instead)  2. fill and ice the cakes with buttercream  3. cover the cakes with fondant   4. make a little "kit" of decorations for each of the kids in separate baggies (see MATERIALS section below).


 MATERIALS: 1. brown, beige, and red modeling chocolate (for ears, eye patches and tongues)   2. lollypop sticks   3. assorted jelly beans.

EQUIPMENT: 1. rolling pin  2. circle cookie cutters  3. corn starch and brushes (optional) for coating work surfaces  4. small paint brushes to stick modeling chocolate to fondant with water  5. tooth picks.

6. we also made these little cake stands by gluing cardboard coasters to the tops and bottoms of plastic medicine cups.


Two lollypop sticks were placed into the tops of the doggie head as supports for the ears (some floppy and some pointy) which the girls molded out of modeling chocolate (see above photo) Everyone added their own personal ♡ touches, like crowns, paws and earrings.


Happy Birthday, Miss S!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Field and Stream: Sporting Cake

 Some kids REALLY love Sports! 
Thank you so much to Fred Marcus Photography for giving us access their photos!
The four feet (plus) tall basketball,  football, fishing, baseball, scrabble cake traveled from Manhattan to South Hampton in two pieces.  That is, if you don't count the "gold football trophy" that I have to admit, was sculpted out of modeling chocolate in the car on the way to the event.

Above: working on the details (photographed in house)
 Thanks to ♡ Alejandra of the Cake Factory for the photos below: