But even last year, before we decided on the Trullo design, we had another thought... to build a Gingerbread Leaning Tower of Pisa. Well, as you can see by the photo above, this year we decided to do it! I think we succeeded... I was pretty rough going, though. Of course, the obvious challenge is that it leans. Another main problem was how to construct--and bake--the curved tower sections. I researched covering a cardboard tube with gingerbread and leaving the tube inside. But I discovered that gingerbread sort of melts downward as you heat a tube sitting vertically in the oven. The other method is to lay the gingerbread covered tube on its side in the oven and turn it every minute or so as it bakes. We decided against this because attaching balconies would be a real hassle. The Leaning Tower has balconies on six levels. We decided to create cylinders alternating with round cookies to construct the tower.
The solution to forming the curved shapes was to make half-cylinders and then put two together to form each floor of the tower. Next was coming up with a jig that could cool the shaped pieces just as they came out of the oven.... without them cracking or sloughing off pieces. I created a rig out of a large wooden rolling pin attached to our large roasting pan. As we quickly found out, the gingerbread recipe that Lisa had prepared was too crumbly at first... which we fixed by adding a bit of boiling water and re-kneading. But then we found that would not hold together when draped over the rolling pin form immediately after baking. We needed a new recipe....
By the end, my hands were shaking and my fingers were cramped from pressing the stiff royal icing out of pastry bags for hours on end. The assembly and decorating pretty much took us an entire day.
It was worth it, though. We think it turned out to be one of our best. What do you all think?
Jerry, Lisa and Lucas Finzi... Merry Christmas--Buon Natale!
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