How to (Almost) Make a Gingerbread House from Scratch, or, My Epic Holiday Failure

It's here that I should make note of something, something that I believe is the primary reason there is no photo of the finished gingerbread house. When I was rolling out the dough, I neglected to roll it out long enough to create the pitched part of the roof, which should be attached to one wall. If you look at the diagram, you'll see that the end walls are rectangles with triangles on top. I thought, "What the hell!" and I made the triangle pieces separate from the walls, figuring I'd attach them with icing later, and it wouldn't make a difference.

It might not have made a difference had I let the icing dry all the way before I attempted to attach the roof. But patience, though it is a virtue, is not one of my strong suits.

I let the walls dry for about 20 minutes. I gave the triangles atop two of the walls another 10 minutes. I decorated the roof, now heavy with icing and Necco wafers, oozed icing onto the joints where I thought it would meet the walls, set it atop the brittle gingerbread and held it. For about 30 seconds. Then I got bored and let go.

Here's something I learned about royal icing: It takes more than 30 seconds to dry.

Here's something I learned about me: I'm not very patient.

Here's what happened next:

A better chef, architect or engineer than I might have taken this in stride. She might have set the roof aside, fixed the failing joints, allowed them to dry and tried again the next day. I, on the other hand, gave up and started eating.

Was it a gingerbread house in the end? No. No, not really.

Was it delicious? You bet your bottom dollar. And because it didn't sit around for days looking pretty and collecting dust, it wasn't stale either.


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