10 December 2008

The House that We Built, Part One

A crapton of gingerbread dough

So my mom thought that our family should build a gingerbread house for a contest South Bend was holding. Initially, I was very hesitant because I rarely do things "just because" and I'm a bit of a perfectionist. So I hemmed and hawed, sulked and frowned, and I'm sure I did other things that I wasn't purposely doing; it was just my natural state of being under the circumstances. But the day came to finally build it, and I found a pattern by Bob Villa. What better template to use than one by him? What stood out to me about the particular pattern I pushed was that the shape wasn't the standard house that I figured mostly everyone would be using. The process began with my dad and brother, who cut out the template.

If ever there was a circumstance, however minor, to swear up a storm, this was it, but I contained myself because that's not how I am. The dough, although it had 6 cups of flour, was on the soft side, and although I rolled it out just-from-the-fridge, it quickly warmed up and the pieces became contorted upon transferring to a baking sheet. Quickly coming up with a way I could save my sanity, I rolled the dough out on a sheet of wax paper and, using the paper as support, turned out the entire rolled out sheet onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, then my brother cut the pieces. All we had to do was peel away the unused dough. That's why, if you noticed, there are three side pieces (the ones with the stars on top).

Before constructing, of course, the pieces have to be at room temperature. That happened quickly, so Mom made a thick royal icing and the construction began, using cans of Coca-Cola as supports.

My brother came up with the idea of making shutters for the windows (all 14 of them) and a frame for the door, and my mom thought to use a star cookie cutter for the top windows on the sides, and make the stars and the top window above the door stained-glass.

My dad pointed out that we added some of the decorations to the wrong side of one of the side panels, but the icing hadn't completely set yet and it wasn't that much of a problem, except that we didn't catch it.

For the roof I originally wanted to make wafer cookies, white with browned edged, for the roof shingles, but the day was ended and the kitchen was progressing rapidly into disaster zone status, so I used the swirled white chocolate chips my mom bought and stick pretzels.

My mom and Brother 2 made candy molds for the inside with a gingerbread tree and two people. They did an amazing job on the candies (pictures later).

Brother 1 was attaching the two roofs.

And Brother 1 decided two make two windows that attached to the back roof. Genius. A little touch that really added to the effect.

O.M.Gooses. Just thinking about that house made me tired all over again. After my brothers and I finished the roof (read: REALLY late), we were starting to get obnoxious and loud and the icing was running out, so I said "NO MORE!" and went to bed.

Next morning, I woke up to a gingerbread house even more amazing than what I left, which I will show you on the next post.

*The entire process was accompanied by my dad, who earned the title of Official Overseer*



  1. oh my gosh! you and your family are adorable and i love the gingerbread house so far! i can't wait to see more :)

  2. love it :) i used to do them every xmas with 3 of my friends!! mom would do the gingerbread for them and we would consume waaaay too much sugar in the process of constructing them... ah, the memories!

  3. Wow! Im impressed. I have always wanted to do such a thing as make a gingerbread house.

  4. That house looks like FUN!!!! Maybe after I get done with finals I'll get time to try out some of your recipes!!! And yeah, new shoes ROCK!!!!!! :)

  5. That's cool! I don't think I would have the patience to build anything like this!

  6. Christina, someone told me you're part of Habitat for humanity. May I suggest building me one these houses too? lol

    I'll be back to track the progress this feat.

  7. Whoaaaaa that DOES look like a crapton of work, but lookit the awesome results!!! And that first pic with the raw dough... mmm... I'd like to bathe in that.

  8. I've never made a gingerbread house! I'm so jealous.

    You've done a beautiful job so far...

    I love that you broke this post down. Now I'm eager to read the rest!
    I hope you won.

  9. Pearl - Aw, thanks!

    VeggieGirl - My brother kept saying throughout the process, "This is EPIC!"

    TTFN - Heh, I started eating more than a few of the candies the first night, then it sickened me and I wanted it all to go away!

    Courtney - Despite all my complaining, it's actually pretty simple once you figure out the template and cut the pieces out. Two sets (plus more, if you can) of hands makes it that much easier to construct and less pressure on one person.

    Courtney - Let me know what you try and how it works out!

    So after I looked at your new shoes, I started looking at shoes online and although I didn't buy any, it was cool!

    Sam - As I said above, more than one pair of hands really helps, but even then, for me, I had to channel my inner runner and exercise my patience... Because it's a virtue.

    Peter - BWAHA. I mean, sure, anytime! One thing that I wouldn't want to do for a living is build millions of gingerbread houses.

    Jesse - Oh yeah, the end results were totally worth it! (That's what I keep telling myself.)

    Ew, that's weird. I suggest gingerbread-scented body wash instead. =p

    Em - Thank you!

    You could definitely build one. Make a party out of it.

  10. Wow you are very brave to take on baking and making your own gingerbread house! My boyfriend suggested we make one, but he was only half serious and I was very relieved! Hahaha :)


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