Okay, I admit it, I like gingerbread, but gingerbread houses, in their many architectural forms from the Victorian type to the cookie and candy type, have never been my cup of tea. This year, I came around to giving it a try to help contribute to making our local gingerbread festival become the largest in New England. My first effort ever, so much to learn, thank you internet! So much figuring, from the best recipe to use for the gingerbread, how much, how thick, how strong, the best royal icing – raw whites vs powdered whites vs meringue powder, what candy to use or make your own, create small paned windows? yikes! pedimented doorways? yikes; roof shingles – wheat thins, necco wafers, cereal – most won’t do for this simple house; what materials for landscape, animals, snow…..Oh my goodness, really, it’s a full time job – if you wait until the last minute, which I did. But if you start way before Thanksgiving, so you can take your time and be thoughtful with it, enjoy the process, I’m sure it can be fun.
It’s amazing how quickly the grocery store transforms from a food source into an architectural source for a miniature version of your home. Your dry goods cupboards become filled with warning signs for the family – do not eat – this is not cereal, these are roof parts; these are not snacks, they are wagon wheels; this is not frosting – it is glue! Someone did eat half the roof shingles for breakfast and I had to buy more.
Putting the whole thing together is as tiring as building a real house! Melting candy for windows, measuring your house to scale so the proportions are correct, drawing & cutting it out for a pattern; mixing the dough, or house walls, roof, chimneys, doors & doorways, etc. then building it, using only edible items, quite a challenge. Then there’s the landscaping, and story to add. Something needs to be going on to make it come alive. But by the time you get to that part – especially when you’re in a hurry – you’re not feeling so alive!
I appreciate all the candy additions to other whimsical houses – hats off to you folks with your amazingly clever buildings & embellishments – but for this simple 17th- 18th century gingerbread house, those just won’t work. More appropriate accoutrements had to be figured out. Maybe it’s just me, spending so much time figuring out how to make snowmen without ready made products like marshmallows in a bag, or making a tree with chocolate from scratch, the birds, and a cat – with whiskers! (that was a fun accidental discovery).
Besides the festive greenery, nothing looks and smells of Christmas more than a gingerbread house – so I just had to share this one – to prove that old houses without all that fancy gingerbread/candy – can still add to the spirit of the season, and look lovely. Figuring all this stuff out was enormously challenging – good for the brain. Soon to be good for the stomach : )
Happy Holidays Everyone!