The Revenge of the Gingerbread Men

oh no!
© Quentin Blake

The aroma in the Advent croft kitchen is delicious and augurs Christmas treats. There are enough spices to fill a potentate’s bazaar, jars of dried fruit and dark sugars, bundles of cinnamon sticks and piles of gleaming Satsumas and lemons. The Christmas cake is slumbering in a miasma of brandy in the cupboard with the jars of mincemeat and preserved oranges and there are dark chocolatey treats squirrelled away.
Today was scheduled as ginger biscuit baking day. Then it was if someone had shaken the Christmas snow globe as a gentle cloud of flour descended. It covered the entire work surface and coated the trail of spatulas, palette knives, assorted spoons, pastry cutters, crumbled balls and twists of baking paper and spheres of discarded cling film with a snowy film. It was if I had been visited by a hoard of giant children finger painting with sticky brown biscuit dough as they rampaged through the kitchen!
In a fit of recklessness I had decided to try a new recipe and as soon as I saw the dough I knew I was in trouble. After a night in the fridge and 15 minutes in the freezer the dough was still very sticky. I tried rolling it out between sheets of cling film and baking paper doused in flour but the more I tried the more it stuck to the paper, the work surface, every utensil I could get my hands on and of course to me! Eventually the whole sticky gooey mess was scraped back into the bowl of the mixer. By this time I was getting a little frazzled so without engaging brain I emptied in half a bag of flour and switched the machine on. Hallelujah – winter wonderland as the flour was spun from the bowl! Hysterical laughter and howls of frustration ensued and if it hadn’t been 9 am a restorative nip of cooking sherry would have been appropriate! So it was a quick chorus of Jingle Bells  and a few Bah Humbugs to accompany the rolling out of the now very, very firm dough. The end result was an assortment of oddly shaped, mildly spicy biscuits with a very chewy texture.
Lured by the aroma of baking Himself appeared and then quickly retreated! The comments were scathing but he did help me decontaminate the kitchen. So was it the curse of the Gingerbread Men, a faulty recipe or did I misread the liquid quantities, add them up incorrectly or perhaps tried to read the measuring jug graduations without my specs?

hand prints

14 thoughts on “The Revenge of the Gingerbread Men

  1. More wonderful words (and not a quotation amongst them!) – I think this scenario begs for a short film, panning around the kitchen and taking in all those lusciously laden shelves, then gradually speeding up as mayhem ensues. I’m sure you manage a replay for Himself to film – could be a You Tube hit, don’t you think? It was a wonderful description even if only on the page – but couldn’t you have managed even a still photograph to prove you haven’t made it all up for blogging glory? I have to coincidentally confess to making ginger biscuits from a different recipe for the first time on Monday, but I had the opposite problem as the mixture was too DRY (we obviously need to confer on recipes) – I anticipated them just disintegrating into gingery crumbs but in fact they hold together well and would be brilliant for removing loose fillings in your teeth.

    • I can imagine the reaction if I’d staggered into the study covered in flour and biscuit goo to get my camera to record the mayhem for posterity!
      As for the facts – well would you believe a storyteller? Do you really believe I live on a remote Scottish island inhabited by wee folk where the sun shines in the summer and the mice leave the polytunnel when issued with an eviction notice? Myth, magic and poetry the tools of a weaver of dreams.

      • And a very nice blanket it makes too 🙂

  2. What a mess! I’m still laughing since it’s not mine to clean up. Laughing along with you and remembering a recent sticky encounter with oatmeal bread. The result of adding flour was an inedible block that even the birds won’t eat and a resolve to stick with recipes using dry oats instead of cooked. In my case it is all the recipes available on the internet which leads to this departure from the tried and true.
    Your kitchen sounds wonderful with all the scents of the season.

    • Cooking disasters are great as long as you can see the funny side. Mine are always monumental and I have decorated the kitchen in the style of Jason Pollock on numerous occasions. I usually stick to recipes by cooks whose recipes are usually foolproof, but if I fall into temptation and try something from a new source it often ends in disaster.

  3. Definitely the curse of the gingerbread men, who get up to all kinds of mischief at this time of year! I find that the smells while baking are often as rewarding as the taste of the final product, so enjoy the lingering gingery aroma wafting from your kitchen!

    • I’ve always had my doubts about gingerbread people! One of the best things about Christmas is the excuse to be over indulgent with the spices – the aroma is heavenly.

  4. Uh-oh. I’m scared to ask…..was it my Latvian recipe that you tried? If yes – I swear to you – it has always worked for me! Sorry yours was such a challenging experience!!! 🙁

    • Don’t worry Astrid it was not your recipe. As soon as I’ve recovered from the trauma I’ll try your recipe and I have no doubt that the outcome will be perfect – especially if I wear my specs!

      • Phew!!! Carry on then and let us know how things work out!

  5. I take some comfort from the fact that I am not the only one who has had a ginger-related baking disaster in the last week! Specs not an issue for me, just plain absent-mindedness…

    • Christmas gremlins are obviously invading kitchens up and down the land and causing havoc!

  6. The best stories don’t need pictures – that’s why I’m not going to see Hobbit – the movie.
    My problem with gingery treats is that I never believe that recipes are gingery enough. I keep adding more ginger and sampling the raw mixture till I can taste it. The end product suits my palette but everyone else is left choking at the fieriness.

    • I’m with you on very gingery biscuits – definitely not for wimps. Hope you enjoyed the movie.

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