Saturday, 23 December 2006

Gingerbread mania

The kitchen is smelling for spices, sugar is sizzling oh-so-mysteriously and a whole wash basin is filled with brownish dough, the family has gathered around a small table and everybody has a small batch of dough in front of them, to knead and to...taste, bit by bit.
I remember making gingerbread dough at my grandmother's. It was packed until the next evening when the family could come together once again. My brother probably had the same memory flash when he asked me to find some time for him to make the dough after granny's instructions. Although we added a teeny bit too much flour as we were kneading and were overwhelmed by nostalgia, the main purpose of making the dough was finally fulfilled - we were doing something together. However, my brother never stopped saying but granny did it like that... Oh, mystical...grannies and their cookery.

As it has become a tradition the last four years, I baked gingerbreads together with my friend Marie. For us gingerbreads aren't just gingerbreads. Oh no, there's a lot more. Filled gingerbreads (with banana filling on the picture) are already becoming a classic. To make these, you only have to put the filling between two dough circles and press the edges together, you can also shape the rounds afterwards. Why not try salty fillings? Gingerbreads filled with liver pate, flavoured cream cheese or blue cheese are a great snack on the christmas table. Sweet fillings could include berries (frozen ones should be dried after melting), fruit (especially bananas, onto which we added some chili), dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, peanut butter (I'm trying to track down the ones with PB, but they all look the same!)

Stained-glass gingerbreads look really nifty. To make them, all you have to do is to transfer dough rounds with holes onto the baking tray and put a broken caramel candy in the center of the hole. Could be eaten slowly as well as used for decorations.

The idea of making gingerbread balls originates from last year when we bought a whole batch of dough that was nastily sticky and unformable. Only later we saw the charm of the terrible incident. These actually make a lovely present or a hard-to-refuse sweet snack.

When talking about gingerbreads, one can't escape sugar-coating. This year we acted like traitors and used ready-to-use icing. Still, our level is far beyond the..usual level (also known as making whiskers to gingerbread cats). This time we decided to mess with the names of food products. Oh yes, the one on the picture actually says 'mustard':). I'd like to point out that it is a great idea to use paint-brushes while designing the gingerbreads. Although I didn't use the technique this year, I have used it before and it's possible to create neat pieces of food-art like that.

Merry christmas and may your lives be overwhelmed by new tastes and occasionally...nostalgia:)

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