2017 y’all! It’s almost over and what a year it was. I had a baby, quit my job, and my parents retired. Looking forward to what 2018 has to offer! Hopefully lots of fun with family making memories that will last a lifetime.
Speaking of memories… every year I compete in a gingerbread house contest, and this year was one to remember. I competed in the Raleigh Winterfest contest and I won Best in Show. Not only that, I was on the local news! The contest director admired my entries in the past and she forwarded my information to Raleigh’s ABC11 news station. A crew came to my house to interview me and filmed me putting the finishing touches on the house. It was strange to see myself on television but also really cool!
This year’s house was “Santa’s Mountain Chalet”.
It took me a really long time to come up with the idea. However, once I did, I worked rather efficiently. Granted, I was on maternity leave and had some free time to work while baby slept.
After choosing my theme, I sketched up my plans. I decided on the dimensions I wanted and drew out each of the pieces I would need to bake.
In the past, I just cut out the paper pieces and used them as outlines for my gingerbread. However, the paper tends to stick to the gingerbread and get greasy and gross. So this year I bought some thin sheets of plastic to use instead. I got them at Lowes.
I used my paper outlines to cut pieces out of the plastic.
Once I had my plastic pieces cut, I made a batch of gingerbread using my favorite recipe. I used a rolling pin to roll the gingerbread out so I could cut it.
I placed the plastic right onto the rolled gingerbread.
I used a Wilton spatula to cut the gingerbread.
I placed it on some parchment paper on a cookie sheet and baked it until the edges browned.
I used those steps for any part of the structure that was going to be just gingerbread. On this particular house I actually had a few sides that I wanted to be glass windows. For those I used this recipe. I used modeling clay to shape the windows.
The process wasn’t perfect and if I do it again, I will change a few things, but I will tell you about it anyway. I rolled the modeling clay out into long thick strands.
I used my paper cutouts to shape the modeling clay into the shape I wanted the windows. This is where I would adjust the process. The thickness I used for this window seemed fine, but the round shape made the edges uneven and weird. I would thicken the clay some more and make it into a flatter edge instead of a round one. I hope that makes sense. I’m not sure how else to explain it.
As you can see from the next photo, the clay I used for my other windows was thinner. That caused a bit of a problem. It needs to be really thick.
Once I heated my “glass” ingredients, I poured them into the space between the clay and let them set. (Note: Obviously this method is not ideal for a house that you actually plan to eat. The process did leave some clay residue on the edges of the windows.)
Once the glass set, I peeled away the clay and scraped off any excess.
Since I was doing a mountain chalet, I wanted the main structure to look kind of like a big log cabin. So I rolled the gingerbread into long strands and cooked it just like that.
I used a small knife to cut the cooked gingerbread logs to the lengths I needed. Then I used some icing to secure the logs to my glass windows to get the chalet look.
I followed these same steps for any parts of the structure that had windows, including the front of the house.
The front of the house also had a door that I created from fondant. I colored the fondant brown to look like wood.
Then I rolled it out and cut it into a rectangle.
Then I used a Wilton tool to draw some lines and circles to make the fondant look like wood grain.
One side of my chalet was mostly windows. Two of the other sides were a mix of logs, windows and doors. The last side was a big chimney. In order to make the chimney shape, I “glued” some gingerbread pieces together that I’d baked.
For the house sides, I used the gingerbread logs. For the actual chimney, I used my icing to glue sliced almonds to the structure to give it the right look.
Then I used lots and lots of icing and scrap gingerbread to secure the sides together.
I colored some fondant brown and used a tear drop cutout to create some shingles that I glued to the roof.
Then I glued the roof on top of the sides of the house. I added a small overhang over the front of the house that I supported with some gingerbread logs.
I used even more logs to create a railing around the house deck. I decorated the railing with some green icing and white sprinkles to look like strings of lights and added little red fondant bows. I made some trees with ice cream sugar cones, icing, and sprinkles.
In addition to the actual gingerbread house, I created a lot of “extras”.
There was the walkway I made with gray icing and sliced almonds.
The gingerbread sleigh with gifts that I dedicated a separate blog post to.
Some gingerbread reindeer that also have their own dedicated post.
A fondant snowman in the yard.
The finished product was whimsical. I do believe I up my game year after year.
My sights are now set on the national gingerbread competition next year. I have some work to do!