We have started off the holiday season here at the bakery. Cakes, pies, and holiday specialties are throughout the bakery. And we are starting our gingerbread making, so to kick off this blog I am sharing our Gingerbread Townhouses from last year. This 2 1/2 foot tall, 3 ft- long house set in a cozy winter scene, was a task my team was excited to get and happy to see delivered! Now, don’t get me wrong; it is fun and nostalgic doing gingerbread houses. Gingerbread mansions, they are, well, more delicate and require a lot more tlc. Thankfully, Bing Crosby serenading us with White Christmas made a notable difference to our disposition and its execution. 🙂
Some of our lessons learned: Roll your gingerbread dough as absolutely thin as you can – especially the roof pieces. Roofs are heavy, meaning they need a lot of support, and having them be lighter, I found was to our advantage. Thinking through the assembling of the pieces. We found it worked best to adhere each roof piece to one of the side supports of the house, then add front and back piece, and then finally adhere the other side piece. I wish I could say we were fully present and did a photo documentary of our steps, but, alas, we were fully in construction mode.
Another lesson: when my daughters’ were young, before my own-start-from-scratch gingerbread house making days, I used to think that it might be nice to make the gingerbread myself – but I never did because of time, planning, etc. Well, as an experienced gingerbread -maker, I say to those out there who contemplate the same thought – don’t do it, and don’t even spend a moment blinking an eye feeling bad about it. When you calculate the amount of time and preparation, and ingredients, and pieces that break until you get the hang of it – it’s not worth it. Enjoy and fully embrace the pre-packaged ready to assemble gingerbread houses found in the store! (Use the time making gingerbread cut out cookies with the kids!). Enjoy what I think is the fun part, of decorating them! As gingerbread houses aren’t generally eaten anymore (if you are certain they won’t be) – you can even pre-assemble using hot glue.
Now, our construction gingerbread recipe is different from our gingerbread cookies/people that we offer (one is for construction; one is for devouring), so we suggest whether you make your own gingerbread structure or buy it, that you have gingerbread cookies on hand to resist temptation of eating the structure. (An absolute important lesson learned).
Ready, Set, Decorate, and that is the best part, in my opinion. Our gingerbread mansion was a victorian winter scene, not specific to Christmas or a Holiday, as our client requested, but make your own theme. Most importantly, have fun!
Some fun decorating ideas are : cereal for the roof tiles, long candy-cane sticks which can act as structural support and festive details, peppermint wheels, very large gum-drops snipped into or stacked for trees. Another important tip: royal icing is your ‘cement’, and for ‘construction’ work you want it to be quite stiff (if you pull a knife out of it the icing stays almost straight up). For detail piping you need a slightly thinner icing, so it flows but does not run out of the bag. To get the different consistencies, follow the directions on the back of the meringue powder purchased at Walmart, JoAnnn’s, Michaels… and create for the thicker consistency. Later when ready for thinner icing simply add a little warm tap water, a few drops at a time, stirring in between until you get the somewhat thinner piping consistency. As an fyi- keep your royal icing coved as it will crust over and harden fairly quickly-!
Whatever your imagination can dream up will absolutely make the best gingerbread house ever!