Winter Kitchen and the Ginger Stars

comments: 73


I love it when the light comes into the kitchen in the afternoon. It's a dark room in the morning and for most of the day, but in the winter for just a short while on sunny-ish afternoons, it filters in at a low angle through obstacles — bare branches, eyelet curtains, onion baskets. Some people are so affected by light, and some people don't seem to notice it too much. Andy and I are in the former category. We are constantly fussing with the lights, tweaking dimmer switches, curtains, and lightbulbs throughout the day and the season until it feels right. I think that part of the reason I miss snow so much is that the daylight, when reflected off snow and into the house, is so much brighter and whiter than the daylight reflected off . . . mud. Our house faces north, and we need every bit of brightness we can get.

What any of it has to do with gingerbread I don't know, except that I find myself just wanting to be in the kitchen all the time lately. Who doesn't, during the holidays. It's warm in there, and the light is nice, and there is cinnamon, and hot drinks, and happy work to be done (unless chocolate is involved, and then there is howling). I just couldn't bear to ruin anymore chocolate in anymore bad brownies, so I decided to go with homemade gingerbread for my baked gifts. Next to homemade egg nog (so much different than the store-bought stuff) and Mexican hot chocolate, gingerbread is right up there with my favorite holiday treats.


Homemade gingerbread requires, you know, ginger, which is fun to chop up into little glittery nuggets. Nevertheless, as we were standing in the aisle at Winco on Sunday afternoon about to buy four bottles of molasses, a ginormous jug of vegetable oil (eeewww), and a big huge bag of flour, I saw a stack of about a thousand Betty Crocker gingerbread mixes for $1.48 each — just add eggs and water. I stood for long moments, flat-footed in front of the display, thinking, thinking. I pointed at them and looked at Andy hopefully — yes? NO said he, and dragged me away. He insisted that "we'd" have more fun if we did it from scratch. Strangely, he disappeared into the basement the minute we got home. . . . But he did come back up when it was time to clean the kitchen and take care of the whole batter-splattered thing, so that was fun. He was right!


Perhaps homemade gingerbread is no-fail, because mine amazingly came out just fine. It was a CHRISTMAS MIRACLE. I used this recipe I found by just doing a search; it seemed to have gotten good reviews. I'd have to agree with them — mine came out dense and moist and really nice. Phewy. Well, some of them sunk a bit in the middle, but I think it's because I was baking four at a time. And it was only some. And it's crunch time here, baby, so nothing can stop me now.


I used star-shaped paper baking molds from the Decorette Shop here in Portland. These come in lots of shapes and worked beautifully for me. I found some on-line here. They're a little pricey but I think they're so beautiful. The design on top is just powdered sugar sifted through a square doily (and I have no idea where I got the doilies; I've had them forever — sorry!).


Mmmmmm. Spicy stars. Can you smell them?


WOW! Spectacular gingerbread in those lovely pans with lacy patterns in powdered sugar! You are one fun girl!! Happy Holidays!

I LOVE those wraps! What a great idea - thanks for sharing!

well worth the effort I'm sure! they look wonderful! Happy Holidays Alicia!

How do you make that gorgeous pattern on top? This is not the picture that you should be looking at just before lunch!!!!

How do you make that gorgeous pattern on top? This is not the picture that you should be looking at just before lunch!!!!

I actually kind of leaned in to sniff, hehe. Those look delicious!

How do you make that gorgeous pattern on top? This is not the picture that you should be looking at just before lunch!!!!

WOW! Those look amazing! What a wonderful job you did!!! Happy Holidays!!

These look so delicious. I never saw these baking forms before, but they add such a great look. Thanks for sharing this!

i noticed you have the same whisk i got at anthropologie-but i just got rid of mine because it seemed to be adding some sort of strange flavor/smell to everything i made. have you experienced this?

They look lovely! Thanks for sharing.

These look fantastic and I can smell them, too!

Oh man, I LOVE gingerbread. I think it's maybe my most favorite sweet thing in the entire whole world. The little flower patterns are amazing! Did you use powdered sugar with a stencil or something? I might have to try and talk Trina into making some gingerbread with me soon :) Have a wonderful day!

I know what you mean about light ... my apartment faces north. This year my landlord gave me a southern window in the bedroom (formerly it was covered by wood because the framing had rotted). Now I welcome the afternoon sun by sitting on the bed and crocheting most weekends. I even put a little silver tree on my dressing table to catch the rays. Oh! How it sparkles!

Beautiful gingerbread stars. Everytime I read your blog, I feel like I'm somewhere in a cozy English cottage. You are so much fun. xxoo

Just want you to know that your blog gives me such a lift in spirits. Your decorating, baking, Audrey & Clover stories and all the life things you share makes me feel like I can face another day.

Thank you!
Lacy in Oregon

those look delicious! love the powdered sugar decorations on top. yum!

Mmmm!!! I took a deep breath and almost did smell the ginger. They're beautiful!

I too love light. It inspires me, makes me think and reflect and want to be in the moment for as long as possible.

Oh, the gingerbread stars are just beautiful.

Your photos are always so good that no one would ever guess your house faces north and has light issues. :) It always seems light-filled and glowing and beautiful.

gorgeous!! I spent all last night making all sorts of crazy cookies, brownies and macaroons. I love your idea though of using the paper molds! i think i may order some!

Those look great. I could actually smell ginger.

Really beautiful! Sounds like the perfect Christmas treat!

Bobbie Duran says: December 19, 2007 at 11:33 AM

Oh so Pretty!

I think I CAN smell them!! Oh - no, wait - that's the gingerbread cookies I'm making today. I've been thinking about gingerbread a lot lately ( the cake), and fondly remembering how we used to make it quite often when we were kids. We loved it with real homemade whipped cream - although these days I think I would also enjoy it with some yummy kind of lemony or spiked sauce! I just saw a recipe this morning in the paper for an apple butter cake that has molasses in it, too- thinking I may have to try that one! Any way - I love your pictures - your cakes are gorgeous, love the Texasware bowl, and the light through the kitchen window! Seriously - when can I come over?!

I wish I had a ginger star. Sniff. Pout. Batting eyelashes. No? Okay. Maybe I can find the time to make some. Maybe. There is a sweater and a scarf to finish, a house to clean, and presents a-bursting to wrap...but just maybe...

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.