13 December 2011
Gingerbread House '11
This is it. The house this year took about a week to put together and included a lot of sugar, flour, and candy. The design of the house wasn't as intricate on the outside, but the inside is full of character, like a second floor in both the side buildings, a leg lamb, nativity scene, children's bedroom, and a spiral staircase. I sucked at taking pictures this year, unfortunately. I still have good ones to show you, so take a look.
To begin, stencil cut outs are traced on a sheet of rolled out gingerbread dough, then baked until crisp. After the pieces have cooled, the shapes are lined with royal icing and flooded with thinned royal icing. Finally, they're dusted with sanding sugar for a sparkly effect.
We ran into a snafu with the gingerbread this year, though. Although it baked up and cooled to a crisp, the pieces softened the next day. This was the same dough we used last year so it's not like we changed anything. Many things could have been the culprit, like not rolling the dough out thinly enough, baking the pieces long enough, or more humidity in the air. The most unfortunate part is that we realized the pieces would hold after we had iced many of them. In the end, we found a different gingerbread recipe that bakes up into a thin cracker-like, but still edible, cookie. Problem solved. It was easier to make, too.
Construction went together easily and we didn't have any trouble with the new pieces staying in place. Here is the front entrance. The door is surrounded with stained glass, and on the inside is a gingerbread Christmas tree and hand-painted chocolate candy presents and toys.
Here is one of the second floors, featuring a pretzel bed with candy toys. The floor is lined with fruit leather.
Directly below that is the nativity scene, with baby Jesus in a manger surrounded by Mary, Joseph, and a little lamb.
On top of the pizzelle roof is a festive fondant snowman.
On the other side of the house, the fondant man is falling over the balcony after he dropped the second fondant snowman. Poor Frosty.
Fondant woman looks on in concern.
Here are a few stats:
The entire house is edible, right down to the chocolate pieces and fondant figures. The only piece that isn't edible is the board.
I ate less than 1 cup total candy while constructing this house. I didn't measure it but I know I didn't eat much because when I do, I usually get nauseous.
One week to build. We worked mostly in the evenings. We rushed to put it together at the very end, though we managed not to make any shortcuts.
Rolling out the new batch of gingerbread dough was a workout. Thankfully, the 20" tapered bamboo rolling pin I got last year came in handy. Really. Unlike a traditional rolling pin with handles, you can't seamlessly roll around the entire piece of dough, and these sheets of dough were huge. The weight pressure is evenly distributed and my arms were spared any horrific pain.
They say chocolate gets everywhere when you're making chocolates. Well, so does confectioners' sugar. On the floor, on your hands, in your hair (I'm assuming, as I didn't wash my hands after they came in contact), counters, etc. It was like a crack house!
Okay, I exaggerate.
The house was put on display at The College Football Hall of Fame, along with all the other houses submitted by festive bakers, to be gazed upon by visitors. Judging took place last weekend, and we took home 1st place again! The prize pack was pretty good, consisting of chocolate candies from the Chocolate Cafe, gift certificates to local stores and restaurants, and tickets to a holiday-themed symphony event put on by the local symphony. Fun times.
Have you guys built a house this year? I would love to see them if you did, so link to your posts in the comment section and let me know what your favorite part of building a house is.
If you enjoyed reading this, please help us win another contest for last year's house over at the Global Gingerbread Contest. Vote for the Provo Family. Thanks!