2010 Gingerbread House Part 1

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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!

A firefighter comes to mom’s rescue

A spray of isomalt water comes out of the end of the modeling chocolate hose

Chopping a hole in the roof

My favorite thing on the whole display was the candy stick fire hydrant

The dad and son safely wait for mom

A little sitting area is undisturbed on the side of the house

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  1. Michelle,
    I love this site…the color scheme and the layout is very cool to look at!
    You are soooo talented.
    I wish you the best with all your future “sweet dreams”..
    Aunt Rose

  2. Hi Michelle,
    You know how uncomfortable I am with all this computer technology, but I just had to write and let you know how proud I am of you. Not only with your outstanding work but also with your willingness to share the knowledge and talent God has given you. You never cease to amaze me. I feel so very blessed to be able to call you my daughter. Have fun with your new endeavor and as your mother I also want to say, be careful that you don’t put your life on overload. I love you more than I can ever express. Tell Kevin his computer work is amazing as well. The blog is beautiful,very well done and interesting to look through. Love you both,

  3. Thanks mom! I am so blessed to have such an encouraging mom. You have always been my biggest fan and that means the world to me. I love you and give you full credit for my cake abilities because it was those awesome birthday cakes you made me as a kid that made me want to learn this craft. I love you!

  4. I am totally going to do this next year. I would have never thought to leave an edge on the gingerbread to keep the shape. You’re so smart!!

  5. Thanks Paula! Unfortunately it took me several years and many odd shaped walls to finally figure that one out! 🙂

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