Let the Wild Rumpus Start!
"Rawwrrrrr.....!" Christmas time always brings out the wild side in me. Okay, maybe not as wild as running around the house, knocking things down and smashing things up. But I do think Christmas is the best time to let loose, be carefree; indulge yourself with lots and lots of delicious yummy food. Oh I can assure you that I absolutely been doing lots of these wild feastings for the last couple of weeks leading to Christmas. "Eat now, worry later," I say.
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I caught the film Where the Wild Things Are in Newtown the other day on my own. I grew up reading comics like Doraemon, Dr Slump and the like, so English children books are absolute alien to me. Without knowing anything about the Where the Wild Things Are book by Maurice Sendak, so I walked into the cinema with a neutral mind set and little expectations.
It is an absolute beautiful movie directed by Spike Jonze. The cinematography is amazing with some of the most breathtaking scenery in the film. Althought it can be seen as a children movie, the story itself is actually a lot more complicated than the book, very deep, dark and emotional piece. I actually doubt the children in the cinema will understand what the movie is about, except a few monsters romping about and have a mud fight. A guy sitting in the same row as me got a little teary as I heard him sniffling at the end of the movie.
But I am most impressed with the props and costumes in the movie, everything is handmade and only some of the facial expressions are generated by using 3D visual effects. Hence, I thought why not, I will get my hands dirty as well and make a Where the Wild Things Are gingerbread house... or a cave for this festive season.
I have the whole picture of the gingerbread house imprinted in my head right from the beginning, I wanted it to be intricate, detailed, just like the one in the movie. But half way through the making and then I thought, oh boy, what have I got myself into? It is a lot more difficult than I anticipated.
Instead of the traditional way of cutting the house shapes on the dough before baking, unfortunately the spherical house (or cave) in Where the Wild Things Are is actually made of lots and lots of wood. So to build the house, I made lots and lots of gingerbread sticks about 4cm long, and glued them together over a basketball, using sugar toffee. The next thing I know, my middle and index fingers are soon covered in blisters from the hot sugar toffee. Ouch! ( I told you I was ambitious)
I glued about 6 large pieces and then put them all together like jigsaw puzzles. As its size getting bigger, it gets harder to stay in its shape as I also keep knocking few pieces off accidentally. It took me over 2 days to put only half a sphere together, enough is enough. I made a small Max using mazipan and complete the scene with Scotch Fingers crumbs sand.
It is half finished, but it actually turns out to be prettier than I expected. I dusted it with icing sugar for that Christmassy final touch. To console myself, I consider it as an unfinished perfection.
Another exciting news this festive season is I am also the recent and the last Featured Foodie for 2009 on SBS website. Check out the interview, and you'd probably find out a few things about me. You also can read about Helen's interview here.
A Table For Two wishes you all a WILD CHRISTMAS!
'Where The Wild Things Are' Gingerbread House/Cave
1 cup butter, room temperature [226g]
1 cup brown sugar, well packed [220g]
2 tbsp cinnamon
4 tsp ground ginger
3 tsp ground cloves
5 cups all-purpose flour [875g]
Water (1 tbsp at a time)
1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until blended. Add the cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Add the flour into the mixture one cup at a time. Mix to make a stiff dough. If necessary add more water, a tablespoon at a time until a round dough is form (about 1 cup of water needed). Chill 2 hours or overnight.
2. Take it out from the fridge, cut it into quarters and leave one quarter out to rest for 10 minutes, put others back in the fridge until is ready to be rolled. Put the quarter dough on top of baking paper and cover with cling wrap.
3. Roll the dough out, roughly 1/8 inch thick. Remove the cling wrap, then dust the surface of the dough lightly with flour.
4. Cut it into long strips around 3-5cm wide. Then on each strip, cut it into tiny strips around 4mm width and transfer these to the baking sheet. Any scraps I saved and rerolled at the end.
5. Preheat the oven to 375'F (190'C). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the cookie dough feels firm. Leave to cool on the baking sheet.
6. Repeat until all the quarters are used. Try back in different temperature and timing to create different shades of gingerbread sticks.
Assemble the house 1 cup (400g) sugar
1. Use a basketball (or netball if you want to make a small cave), wrap it in aluminium foil. Put it on top of a mixing bowl so it doesn't roll around.
2. Place sugar in a small saucepan and heat until just boiling and the sugar dissolves.
3. BE VERY CAREFUL! (Toffee is very hot) Dip the edges of the pieces and place on the basketball to glue them together. If the syrup crystallizes, remake it.
4. Best to work in small pieces. Then join all small pieces together to form a bigger sphere gingerbread house.
5. Dust it with icing sugar for the snowy touch.