Wednesday 28 November 2012

Gingerbread madness

You probably noticed I'm Dutch, and in Holland we don't have that American Christmas-madness.
I so wish we did. But we don't.
While I'm typing this next to my Christmas tree, listening to christmas songs, Holland is all about Sinterklaas. It's not really acceptable to put up your tree yet, you put it up when Sinterklaas leaves, so you don't offend him. Sinterklaas is kind of a Dutch Santa Claus, it even sounds very similar. But he is not Santa Claus, mind you. Sinterklaas is also hundreds of years old and has a white beard, but he lives in Spain. Somewhere in november he sails to Holland on his 'pakjesboot', which means.. something like presentsboat? Together with all of his 'zwarte pieten', which basically means black Petes. During the end of november to the 5th of december those Petes climb up your roof, crawl down your chimney and put a sweets or presents in your shoe. But only if you've been a good kid, sing some Sinterklaas-carols while you put your shoe somewhere Pete can find it, and put something nice in there for Amerigo. Amerigo is Sinterklaas's horse. Oh, and Petes also throw around candy. Then, on december 5th, it's time for presents, and the day after that he gets back to Spain and edits his huge book, where all the children are listed as naughty or nice. Sound familiar?
Also, Sinterklaas isn't even named Sinterklaas. His name is Saint Nicolas, and his birthday was on the 6th, not the 5th of december. I don't even know why the old man lives in Spain, since he was born in Turkey.
I can tell this is all very confusing, even for me.

Let me sum it up:

  • Santa Claus has reindeer and a sleigh. Sinterklaas has a white horse that walks on roofs and a boat. Boring.
  • Santa Claus lives on the North Pole and has Christmas elves to help him make/gather/whatnot all the toys. Sinterklaas lives in Spain with black Petes to help him. Which a lot of people find racist. He also has a gunny bag which he supposedly puts bad kids in to take with him to Spain. Somehow he puts the presents in those same gunnies. Like I said: Confusing!
  •  Santa has a jolly red-and-white hat with a puffy ball on top. Sinterklaas wears the kind of hat the pope wears. Red with a yellow cross. I guess it makes sense, since he used to be a saint.
  • And you know what else? Santa is fat. Which makes him way cooler. Even though it is said that Santa Claus was derived from Saint Nicolas.
You can tell I'm a fan of Santa. I'm secretly hoping he'll make me Mrs. Claus one day, but I think he's monogamous. And maybe a little old for me.

This was not supposed to be a long story at all. I just wanted to talk about gingerbread houses.

I will carry on.

Since we have Sinterklaas and a lot of sweets especially for that event, we don't have gingerbread. We know gingerbread by name, and we have the cut-out cookieshape for the gingerbread boy, but I have never actually tasted gingerbread. Which takes me back on track.


I did actually want to make a gingerbread house, so I baked the parts of the house I wanted to build, and went ahead.
 You can tell it looks a little pale. That's because I used a regular sugar cookie recipe, Dutch as I am.

 I'm actually a little embarrased to put these up, since they look kinda messy.

I came to two conclusions while making these.
  1. They're messy. It would have worked 10 times better if I decorated half of them before putting them together.
  2. They are NOT gingerbread houses. They are sugar cookie houses.
Solution: make a new one. Or maybe two new ones. Or maybe just one and a shitload of gingerbread men.

So today I went through my cookbooks and a lovely place called google, and found a gingerbread recipe to make gingerbread dough!
There it is. 3 plaques of gingerbread dough. Just chilling in my fridge. 

I'm very excited to bake a real gingerbread house this time, and I will keep you posted on the results!

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