Saturday, January 9, 2010

Bakers Challenge Dec 2009, Gingerbread House

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.

This was of course great to complete because it brought me back to the days in elementary school when we used to make gingerbread houses out of graham crackers. The house held up very well. I was sure to bake it a few minutes longer so it could harden a bit more. I used caramel to bond the pieces together which I think is a better choice then royal icing. The actual taste of the gingerbread is not spectacular because it's not the sweet taste we are all accustomed to in a cookie. I think however with a nice cup of tea it would make a nice accompaniment. Of cousr decorating it was purly fun and I had the chance to go to a candy store and pick out different kinds of candy which I NEVER do.

For the gingerbread I used Y's recipi. Click here for more details.
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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Let's play Catch up

Good times, weird times, it's great to be back.
I recently returned from my trip to Egypt. My primary reason for going wasn't R&R (although much needed). My younger brother Hamdy was getting married. I really was hesitant going because I did not want to travel while I was expecting. The idea of possibly catching swine flu sort of scared me since I opted not to get vaccinated. Luckily I went and returned unscathed, if anything my immune system got stronger working on overtime.

Being the baker I am, I always wished to create a magnificent cake for my family especially my brother. Unfortunately the oven in our apartment in Egypt is too small to bake, nor do I have the desire to take on such a task without my beloved Kitchen Aid and other worldly appliances. Okay I must admit I did not want to do anything remotely resembling work or be committed to any deadlines. The theme of my trip was to be LAZY and of course attend my brothers wedding. But again LAZY was my focus.
I did manage to bring over some of my tools so I could create the topper for the cake. I made certain main pieces from home in Virginia. The body was a piece of Styrofoam I grabbed from Micheals and shaped it into something resembling the body of a plane. I made the airplane pieces (wings, tail) and heads (of couple). I figured it would be really dumb and stressful carrying a completed topper with me overseas. It would mean that I need to take it as a carry on and I would have to guard it and care for it like my 4 year old child, maybe even closer. I wasn't thrilled with the idea so I said I will complete it in Alexandria when I get there.
Now I'm in the motherland and was I even thinking about the topper...No not really. I had some sleep to catch up on and family to see. I also managed to do a short trip to Sharm El Sheikh in the Red Sea with my son and father-in-law. I get back and find out this topper is due ASAP two days before the wedding. This leads me to pulling off an all nighter to complete the topper which at this point I am starting to hate. Why must I be rushed in my vacation, why is it wherever I go I have a deadline....anyway. Sun up, topper complete and I was very happy with the results. Of course the happiness of my family was what kept me going.
Overall the topper was awesome and the wedding was nice. Now a thing about cakes in Egypt.....
I know Egypt has a lot of European influence in their cakes, however wedding cakes as we know in the States blows away Egypt by far. They really don't do fondant there. It's mostly cream covered. The guests of the wedding do not eat the cake. Basically the brides family takes half and the grooms family takes the other half. My impression....The cake was covered in something marzipan like but it had no flavor. It was weird,not bad but really pointless. I think the cake must have been baked ahead of time and this substance was poured on top to seal in the moisture. The buttercream used on the cake was put on the cake very elementary. It did not look bad but it was different. I also had to bring gold dragees with me because it's not available there for some reason. They only have silver. In Egypt they also put this sparkler contraption on the cake like the 4th of July. I think Egypt, well at least Alexandria and for sure Cairo would be a great opportunity for a budding cake person. It would be a nice departure from what people typically see at weddings.