holiday blur

every holiday season it is the same; hurried, frantic and a total blur. we gather the gang and drive to kentucky to spend it with the cousins (they come here for thanksgiving, you may have seen the trash can turkey posts on my other blog). after weeks of preparations it seems that we finally get to enjoy the day and relax but it is now the morning of the 26th…at this point i usually promise myself to get started earlier so i can enjoy the season. this year, i almost did it. most of my shopping was done before thanksgiving because i had started doing things in september-honestly. then i caught a horrible cold and there went the head start. i was sick for more than a week and i recovered just enough to get the trash can festivities underway. once again, i was in panic mode in december…
one of the highlights of the month, the opportunity to bake gingerbread cookies and assemble a house for the daring bakers december challenge. 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 Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.
my husband the practical joker and more proof that i cannot take him shopping with me. he rearranged the manger in macy’s…lauren the snowgirl is now being showered with gifts from the three wise men while mary and joseph look on.
back to the daring bakers. when i saw that we would be doing a gingerbread house, i didn’t know what to say. i love to build the houses, i’ve done it a few times for competitions and even come home with a blue ribbon but i also knew i wouldn’t have the time or the energy. when i had my bakery, i stumbled upon a great set of cutters that when used would make a lovely tree that could be decorated. we sold hundreds of them! every year, i make at least a couple of them to take to kentucky. knowing my limitations and the requirements of the challenge, i decided to just make the trees. the challenge allowed for us to use gingerbread dough made from scratch, i used my own recipe which i will not post here because it is part of a book i am working on, and any template as long as we included it. my trees do not have a template since you just use the cutters.

this is the set of cutters, there are 5 stars in graduated sizes. my set came from the boston mountain copper company in arkansas about 9 years ago but apparently wilton now makes a similar item. several years ago, i contacted boston mountain and asked them if they still made the cutters and they did but that was probably 3 years ago and i do not know if they still make them since i couldn’t find the set on their website. they may so if you are interested, contact them. the cutters are very well made and definitely worth the money.

you simply cut out 5 of each size and then stack them up to make a tree. here are the stars for two different trees.

using royal icing, pipe an outline on each star and stack them so that they are staggered and not lined up -this gives you the tree shape. start with the largest star and work your way up to the smallest. if you like, you can sprinkle colored sugar, non pariels or other decorettes as you go.
this one is for our neighbors, i sprinkled crystal sugar and snowflakes on it as i went, that didn’t show up in the photo very well though.
for ours, i went back over every point and put a drift of snow-i am making this for kids after all.
the finished tree. it is important to use a level surface and a steady hand with the icing or you may end up with trees that look like staggering drunks-rather like mine…
the two trees side by side before they were wrapped up in a cello bag with ribbons.
here’s hoping that you all had a merry holiday! happy new year to all.

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