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A Dilapidated, but Delicious, Moominhouse

October 14, 2007

Tuxedo Boy is on a Moomin kick–we re-read Moominland Midwinter as his bedtime book recently, and then had to rummage through every bookcase in the house collecting the rest of the Moomin tales for his delectation.  So when he came across this lovely site, Axis of Aevil, with its architecturally accurate gingerbread Moominhouse, the fate of my weekend was sealed. 

If you go to Elaine’s site, you will see a really lovely Moominhouse, with blanched almond shingles, a glossy yellow comet, and perfectly fitting roof, which you will yearn to replicate.  Then look at mine again, to see the painful reality of constructing a hexagonal tower house with two verandahs, a circular roof, and a comet, using only gingerbread and royal frosting.  I guess ours is Moominhouse after the flood hit, before it could be refurbished.

Amazingly, the gingerbread used to construct it is really good–not the usual dry floury concrete.  I highly recommend the recipe–and there’s enough left over to make a lot of gingersnaps in your choice of shapes.  But plan ahead–it really, really does need to chill for at least 12 hours.

 Finnish Gingerbread

1 cup + 3 tablespoons butter (2 sticks + 3 tablespoons)
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup treacle or golden syrup
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 teaspoons orange zest
5 cups unbleached flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

In a saucepan, bring the butter, sugar, syrup, and spices to a boil, stirring constantly.  When butter is completely melted and mixture has boiled, take off the heat and cool to room temperature.  Mix in the eggs and orange zest.  (Don’t rush this step; the hot sugar will cook the eggs, giving you the confectionary version of hot and sour soup–strands and chunks of cooked egg suspended in the buttery liquid.  Ugh.)

In another bowl, mix the flour and baking soda.  Add to the liquid and stir well.  Form it into a ball, pop it in a ziploc bag, and throw it in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours.

Roll out the dough on a well-floured surface to 1/4 inch thick.  Cut into shapes of your choice, use an off-set spatula to transfer to Silpatted cookie sheets, and bake at 350 F about 12 minutes, or until lightly browned around edges and firm to the touch.  Let cool on wire racks. 

*Tove Jansson, the author of the Moomin books, was one of the many fabulous gay people sprinkled throughout the children’s literature world.  Tooticky, the astringent and amusing winter inhabitant of the bathing hut, was modelled on her partner, Tuulikki Pietilä.  Of course it doesn’t make her books better (ever tried to read Heather Has Two Mommies?), but with Larry Craig making us all look bad, I like to boost my people where I can.

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