“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
"Winter is dead.”
~AA Milne, when we were very young
NOTE: I am away at the moment helping my mother with her treatment for lung cancer. I have set up a few posts to post whilst I am away as a special surprise. Some are new and some are reposts of old favourites that you may have forgotten, or if you are a new reader may not even have seen. I'll be back at the end of May, but in the meantime . . . Enjoy!
PS - I will only have sporadic internet use, so if you ask a question and I don't get back to you . . . it's not that I don't want to. It just may take me a while.
Wednesday, 5 December 2012
Last week I got sent the cutest thing in the post. That is one of the plus's of having a food blog. You get to try out new things. It was a Gingerbread Christmas Tree Kit from Waitrose and the challenge to create a tree special enough to be put onto their Facebook page.
Isn't that just the cutest thing you have ever seen??? I thought so too. They also sent me some extra's to use to dress it up really extra special . . .
Gold edible glitter, silver pearls and some ready to roll white fondant icing. Hmmm . . . not sure about the fondant icing. I am not a fondant fan . . . but I am a sparkle gal so the other things looked quite promising.
Essentially the kit had everything in it you needed to build your very own Gingerbread Cookie Christmas Tree . . . white icing, green icing, gingerbread dough, green sparkles and a sturdy carboard template to use to cut out the gingerbread with.
Now folks . . . I have a confession. When my children were growing up I used to create a beautiful Gingerbread creation for them every year during the month of December. Sometimes they were simple, sometimes they were incredibly complicated, always they were fun. I enjoyed making them, the kids enjoyed eating them . . . it was a win/win situation all round!
One year I made a house that was literally covered with every type of candy you could imagine . . . candy which disappeared on a daily basis, but which I never saw anyone taking or eating . . . however there was one of my children who pretty much sat on top of it every day, so I had a pretty good idea of who was the culprit!
Anyways, I was really looking forward to making this gingerbread cookie tree. I thought I had read everything on the back of the package that I was supposed to do, and so I kneaded the dough to make it soft . . . it did take a lot of kneading, but I got there in the end. I found the cardboard template a bit annoying . . . but that's because I am a little bit lazy and I didn't like having to stop and keep cutting the stars down as I went along . . . there was a lot of rolling, and re-rolling and cutting.
They all fit onto my lined cookie sheet though so that was good. I had a big clump of dough leftover, so I cut out a few gingerbread snowmen, which I planned on sitting around the base coz . . . well, this is The English Kitchen and my Gingerbread Christmas Tree was just going to be the best ever don't you know! It smelled heavenly when it was baking. BOY!! If this tasted even half as good as it smelled, it was going to be fabulous!
Mistake one. Don't ever trust the timings on a package of anything. Always check sooner than you think they will be done. Mine ended up a tad bit on the burnt dark side. Obviously my oven runs a bit hotter than normal. (I must get that checked out!)
There is an old saying about Pride going before the fall . . . tis so true. I baked all the biscuits on one day, and then because the light was fading and I like to do all my photography in natural light . . . I decided to wait until today to put it together.
The icing was really hard to squeeze out of the icing bags . . . and I have to say in all honesty, it was a bit on the sparse side. If you plan on making this tree, I'd plan on making extra icing. I didn't, and found myself panicking a little bit because I felt I was going to run out and so I was being a real scrooge with it on each star. But that's not the worst of it . . .
Remember that nice clump of dough I had leftover and made gingerbread snowmen with? Well . . . I didn't read the instructions on the back of the box properly . . . I was supposed to use that to cut out a whole bunch of extra small stars to put between the star layers. DOH!!
I decided to improvise and cut up a digestive biscuit cake thing I had into slices and place the slices in between the layers.
See that hand in the above picture. I think my tree fell over about a dozen times . . . the improvised layers just didn't cut the mustard. That is Todd trying to hold it up so I can get a photo of it.
It didn't work . . . waaahhh!!! That will teach me to not read the instructions properly before doing something.
As you can see the sliced digestive cake things just did not work very well at all . . . boo hoo . . .
I ended up removing them altogether and just layering the stars together without anything in between . . .
This actually worked quite well . . . even if by then, having fallen over more than once or twice and being pried apart my tree looked a bit more than worse for the wear!
Perfectly edible, although . . . but . . . let's be honest here. It's not going to be winning any Prizes I don't think . . . well not unless they give one for the most miserable looking tree!!
Sometimes you just have to laugh, and get on with it, and laugh we did.
Many thanks to Waitrose for sending me their kit. I think this would be a fun activity to do with the kids during the days in the run up to Christmas. A lot of good family entertainment for only a fiver, and quite tasty as well. My recommendation . . . read the instructions thoroughly before making! (A good cook should really know that don't you think? I am humbled.)
Waitrose Christmas Gingerbread Tree Kit
£5 at Waitrose shops all over the UK