Collected Short Subjects

by MouseStation Crew, staff writer

MouseStation 365 - Collected Short Subjects

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Show run time 0:32:26

On today's show: Mark interviews the Executive Pastry Chef for the Grand Floridian Resort about the giant gingerbread house, and he and Mike take a look at the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, a Dining Plan tip, listener feedback and more.

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Tip of the Week

This week's tip comes via email from listener Bruce from Brooklyn, who suggests:

When on the Dining Plan, at counter service restaurants, if you just ask for a soda, you get a medium size cup, but at most Disney owned and operated counter service restaurants, you can ask and get a large soda as part of the dining plan. The only exception are the counter service restaurants in World Showcase at Epcot since Disney does not operate those places.

Featured Attraction

This week, we look at Tomorrowland Transit Authority at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

Featurette: Interview with Erich Herbitschek, Executive Pastry Chef for the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Chef Herbitschek is the man in charge of the creation of the giant gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian each year. He and his pastry team bake for months to create all of the gingerbread necessary to build the huge structure, which becomes a merchandise location once is it built.

Chef Herbitschek oversees the annual construction of the gingerbread house. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Don't forget to send us your photos of the house (especially if you find some of the hidden Mickeys) if you go to see the house. While it was almost done when Mark visited, we'd love to see the final product.

We promised you the recipe for the gingerbread house, and we've got a bit of a bonus for you. We were actually given two versions of the gingerbread recipe, the standard sheet handed to guests asking for the recipe at the Grand Floridian, and a more in-depth description of the process with a slightly different order of combination. We'll present them both in case you're interested in the additional detail of the second recipe. The recipes list the same ingredients, but sometimes use different measures. The more detailed recipe's measurements will be in parentheses if they're different from the public recipe.

The view from above shows staging areas for the various decor, along with the crane waiting in the background for its last task of helping to dust the structure with powdered sugar "snow." Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

A closeup view shows the tributes to Grand Floridian General Manager Norm Noble and Grand Floridian Food & Beverage Manager Carlos Sarmiento, who must have been good this year. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Ingredients for Honey Dough

4 lbs (6-1/2 cups) honey
3 lbs (12 cups) bread dough

Ingredients for Spice Dough

2 lbs (8 cups, sifted) all purpose flour
4 eggs
2 cups light corn syrup
1.5 oz ammonia (powdered baker's ammonia - ammonium carbonate)
1 cup water
1 oz (4 tablespoons) ground cinnamon
1 oz (3-1/2 tablespoons) ground nutmeg
1 oz (4 tablespoons) ground cloves
1 oz (4 tablespoons) ground ginger

Ingredients for Royal Icing

4 cups (5 cups confectioners') powdered sugar
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
4 egg whites
1 tablespoon (1-1/2 teaspoons) lemon juice

Chefs work to move decorations from the carts to the structure. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


Public recipe

Honey dough

Bring honey to a boil and mix into bread flour. Mix until dough has a smooth texture. Allow to cool. wrap in plastic and allow to rest for up to two months.

Spice dough

Mix all purpose flour, eggs, light corn syrup, and spices together. Dissolve ammonia* in water and add to mixture. Combine the honey dough and spice dough. (* powdered ammonia or ammonium carbonate is found in drugstores and must be ground to powder before using.)

Roll the dough into 1/8" thick sheets and cut desired pieces. Brush with milk and bake at 340 degrees F for 12 minutes.

Yields one gingerbread house (13"x15"x10") or 10-15 ornaments.

Royal icing

Make icing just before the assembly of the gingerbread house. Beat egg whites until light and frothy. Add the icing sugar and beat until incorporated. Add the cream of tartar and lemon juice while continuing to beat until smooth and icing is stiff. Cover the surface with plastic wrap to avoid it drying out. Assemble your gingerbread house according to your pattern using the royal icing as the glue. For soft icing add 2 more egg whites and add food coloring.

Chefs take care of detail work at the lower level of the gingerbread house. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Longer recipe

Honey dough

  1. In a large sauce pan, bring the honey to a boil. Immediately remove from the heat. Pour honey into a large mixing bowl and slowly add the bread flour using a bread hook on the electric mixer. Continue mixing for 10-15 minutes or until dough is smooth.
  2. Allow the dough to cool and wrap with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature. This dough needs to set up over night at least, but can rest up to 2 months.

Spice dough

  1. Dissolve the baker’s ammonia in the water in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs and corn syrup and mix until combined.
  2. Sift the flour and spices in a separate large mixing bowl and gradually add the flour mixture to the wet mixture using a bread hook on the electric mixer. The dough will become very stiff; do not over mix, simply incorporate the flour.
  3. Cut the honey dough into 3 portions and add into the spice dough one portion at a time. You need to make sure that the honey dough and spice dough’s are completely combined. To make sure that they are, you must knead the dough’s by hand in a fold-and-press motion on a lightly floured work surface. This will take a long time, but is totally necessary.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Lightly flour your work surface and work with 1 portion at a time. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out until about 1/4 inch thick. While rolling, flour the work surface and rolling pin as needed.
  5. Using your gingerbread house template, cut out desired shapes with a floured butter knife. Transfer the shapes to a greased cookie sheet using a large floured spatula, placing them 1 inch apart. Reroll the scraps to make the additional cookies or decorations used for the gingerbread house.
  6. Lightly brush dough with milk and bake until firm to the touch in the center and the edges begin to darken, 10-14 minutes. If the dough begin to bubble at all, pierce it with a toothpick to allow the air out, then carefully smooth out the surface. Allow the house pieces to completely cool on the cookie sheet.

Royal icing

  1. Do not begin to make the icing until the gingerbread house pieces are completely cooled and you are prepared to assemble the house.
  2. Beat egg whites until light and fluffy (5-7 minutes) in a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed.
  3. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and cream of tartar; beat until combined.
  4. Add the lemon juice and beat on high for at least 5-7 minutes or till mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks.
  5. When finished, cover icing with plastic wrap, making sure that the wrap touches the icing completely.

Gingerbread house

  1. Cut out a large cardboard base that is large enough for your gingerbread house and strong enough to hold the weight. Cover it with aluminum foil or wrapping paper.
  2. Spoon some of the royal icing into a pastry bag fitted with 1/4 -3/8 inch diameter tip. Recover the remaining icing so it does not dry out.
  3. Assemble the walls of the house, piping thick lines of the icing onto the sides of the walls that meet. Use cans of food to support the walls when drying. If the edges of the pieces are not straight, you will need to cut them. If they are not smooth, you can run a nutmeg grater over the edge to smooth it out. Allow the icing to dry completely before attaching the roof pieces.
  4. Once the roof is secured and the icing is dry, you may decorate the house with the remaining icing, cookies and candies as desired.

Cooks notes:

You will need to set aside a few days to make the house. The honey dough needs to rest overnight. Once the gingerbread pieces are baked, we suggest you allow them to cool for at least 4 hours. Once they are cooled completely, you can assemble the house. Allow the icing to totally dry and harden, then decorate the house as desired.

Baker’s ammonia is also known as ammonium carbonate, and can be found at drugstores. It must be finely ground. You may notice an odor of ammonia while baking, but this will quickly dissipate and will not have an odor or taste when completed.

When preparing the royal icing, you MUST make sure that the bowl and all utensils used are free from any traces of grease. The smallest trace of grease will not allow the icing to firm up.

When you are deciding on a gingerbread house template, please keep in mind that it cannot be larger than the cookie sheet you are using to bake the pieces.

When combining the honey dough and spice dough, it is very important that you combine them completely. Otherwise, the house pieces will cook unevenly and the flavor will not be consistent. This process will require a lot of “elbow grease” when combining. Because the dough is so thick, you will need to do it by hand.

Last Week on MousePlanet

Andrew Rich, down at MousePlanet Global Headquarters recapped what you may have missed on the MousePlanet site last week if you're not visiting regularly.

Listener Feedback

Karen Stoj posted feedback on the MouseStation Podcast group Facebook page, noting that the podcast keeps her going until her next trip.

Stuart Sternberg posted via Twitter another of his "Mark & Mike Believe It or Not"s. This time, he suggested that Mike got the idea for the Hustletini from watching the Hokey Pokey on Mark's Bar Mitzah video. This one would be a NOT. For those who have joined us recently and don't know about the Hustletini meets that we've held in the past, they combine Mike's favorite Disney recreational activity (doing The Hustle at Pop Century at 6 p.m. nightly) with Mike's favorite Disney drink (the Blue Glowtini, also known as the "Bluetini").

Mary Tesch sent an email thanking us for our input about the upcoming DVC annual association meeting and noting that she and her husband have decided to attend it this year. Side note: Yesterday, Mark received his meeting materials for his ownership interest at Vero Beach, but has not yet received his Old Key West materials.

John Friedman sent Mark an email that his company's IT department has finally removed the block so that he can listen to the show again. He found our Epcot Bottom 3 episode to be really interesting, and he agrees 1 million percent about "how they ruined 'Journey Into Imagination.'"

What do you think? Let us know!

Wrapping up

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