Friday, December 18, 2009

Gingerbread Houses

This lovely gingerbread home was created by me years ago when we lived in North Pole, Alaska. The Fairbanks Daily Newsminer would have a gingerbread house contest every year which was a fun challenge for me. I'd learned how to create on when we were stationed on Adak, out on the Aleutian chain. The first year the Newsminer had their contest I was grand champion, and went on to win 2 more grand champion ribbons and a first place before life slowed me down. This home is entirely of ginger bread, with gum drop lights, stick candy light posts and porch columns, sugar wafer cookie shutters and flower boxes, melted Life Saver candy windows, chocolate Non-pariel wafer roof tiles, rock candy chimney, Red Vines "bricks" and loads of red hots for lights around the roof eaves as well as the trim on the windows and as embellishments on the roof. The tree is made from a sugar cone and spearmint leaves. The fence and white fancy trim on the house was made using royal icing. As I look at this house the memories flood back, of the hours of work, the tons of candy we consumed as I created these, the fun the kids had in tearing these apart on New Years day. We all entered houses one year as a family, each of the kids did their own, and they all got ribbons.
I would love to do another one for fun, but we don't have a place for it right now. So I will wait until we move to Oregon, but perhaps Emmett and I can make a little out of graham crackers. I do miss the selection of candy I could find back then. Anyway, if you have plans to put one together here's a couple of tips to keep you from going nuts. First, as you are baking the pieces as you pull them out of the oven immediately put the patterns back over the pieces and trim them with a sharp knife. Your pieces will grow as all cookies do in the oven so in order for your house to fit together you need to trim. If they get crunchy before you have a chance to trim all of them put them back in the oven to warm them up and they should soften up enough to cut. Second, make sure you bake them well. If they stay too soft, they will not hold up,especially in damp climates. The gingerbread house we made in Sitka started to sag in the middle of the roof because of the high humidity there. Third, and my last tip, melt sugar in the largest frying pan you have. You will use this for the glue to hold the pieces together. Just dip each house edge you want to attach to another in the melted sugar, place carefully and press together. It hardens almost immediately and holds all things well. Any drips you make using this will be covered with frosting so don't worry if you get a little messy. You will get better with practice.
If you do make a gingerbread house I would love to see pictures!


Anonymous said...

Hey Sheryl,
That is quite an amazing gingerbread house! The George Eastman House here in Rochester hosts a gingerbread house show each year between Thanksgiving & Christmas. It's quite something to see. Also, I was watching the Food Network channel & the host of Diners, Drive-ins & Dives, Guy Fieri was visiting none other than North Pole, Alaska! How about that!
Have a great Christmas.
Debbie B.

Sheryl Parsons said...

Hey, I want to see that show! I've seen clips while tending the twins, but I don't know which restaurant he visited. Thanks Debbie!