Hi again everyone. I know for most of you the smell of gingerbread is probably long gone by now but in our house it is still lingering, ever so slightly. As my annual gingerbread house graces the top of the buffet in my living room, I spend my final moments gazing upon it to say “farewell.” In the past, the disposal process has always been a short trip to the dumpster in the backyard, but this year, I have decided that the elimination of the gingerbread house should be as fun as the creation of it. I don’t want to jump too far ahead though…
Before I get ready to dispose of my house (think flames,) I thought I would spend the next few entries taking you through the process I used to build it. Today, I want to focus on what has really been my biggest challenge, finding the best gingerbread and icing recipes.
First, though, I thought you might like to take a look at this year’s gingerbread house. It is a tribute to all the firefighters who risk their lives on a daily basis to keep us safe. My dad is a retired firefighter and my brother is a former smoke jumper so this house has special meaning to me.
It is a house, engulfed in flames with the dad and son safely outside while a fireman rescues the mom from the upstairs window. Don’t ask me why the dad and son made it out without the mom; my family has been creating all sorts of stories for that one. I guess I just thought it would look more heroic with a female being saved by the brave firefighter. Anyway, the inside of the house lights up with a flickering light to give the look of flames and the fire truck’s lights blink back and forth like a real one while the spotlight on the back shines on the rescue scene. It really looks impressive in a dark room. Here’s a short video clip of it in action. (note on the music…youtube will not allow copyrighted music tracks, so this is a free track we found and added.)
I was so excited to receive 1st Place at our local annual gingerbread contest. I won $50 and this plaque. Isn’t it cool?!
So back to the recipe dilemma… I live in a very arid part of the country at about 4,500 feet altitude. The dryness (10% relative humidity) and high altitude can make baking a nightmare. Gingerbread has been no exception. Every year it never fails that at least part of my gingerbread house falls apart by the time the contest is over in early December. As the house sets up over the course of days, the icing pulls away from the gingerbread and eventually things start falling off. The first year I entered the contest the entire house collapsed by the time I returned home with it. That can be very discouraging after so many hours of work.
Through the years I have tried different gingerbread recipes and added more water to my royal icing recipe. I haven’t had a catastrophe quite as bad as that first year but I still have had damage every year nonetheless.
After more recipe experimentation, it all paid off this year, and I think I have finally found the recipes that work for me. As of today, my house has been standing for 8 weeks and not a single piece has broken off (well, except for the ladder that someone touched while it was on display.)
“So, what are these amazing recipes?” you ask. I will share them with you over the next few entries. For now, I will leave you with some more pictures of my gingerbread house.
Until next time, God bless and Sweet Dreams!