So I have an addiction to building gingerbread houses.. I would say slight, but we both know that isn’t true. Every year starts with a vision, and an added element of difficulty from the previous year.Three years ago, it was a two story bakery with miniature gingerbread houses in the windows. Two years ago, it was built with a lot of love and well… it was ugly, but it had a balcony! Last year, with the help of my dear sister Kristin helped me create a pattern to replicate the house I lived in… but this year ladies and gents, is my best one yet. As you can tell by my last post, I’ve been working a lot. As soon as I told Rosie I didn’t think I was going to do one this year, I got bit. I’m so glad it did, So in true McGuire fashion, not only was I building one, it was going to be over the top. I joined the Ultimate Gingerbreaders club, and decided th is was the year for a wrap around porch and a turret roof. She received a very excited text with these pictures.
You know in Christmas with the Kranks when she freaks out about needing her vest? Same concept!
and then, I REALLY needed a festive nutcracker to help the process…
but then Pierre(that’s what I named him) needed a friend. Meet Frederick!
This is what Rose gets to handle, be grateful you only have to read about the crazy 😉
and then, it was time to get going on the house.
I start by cutting out all the pieces, and taping together the longer ones. I don’t always use a premade pattern, but this one was too gorgeous not to try.
When I was learning how to sew, my mother used to say, “measure twice, cut once.”
This applies so well to gingerbread. The recipe I use has no leavening agents in it. It has minimal spread and is easy to work with. I pin each piece to the gingerbread with dressmaker’ s pins and do a wide trim with a pizza wheel, I then go back with an Xacto knife to make sure it’s perfectly detailed. (I know it’s a little obsessive. Stay with me.)
After the pieces we’re baked, I went back and made stained glass windows with crushed candy. I originally made poured sugar for the windows, but I didn’t like it so I picked it out… twice. The warm yellow windows I was going for just wouldn’t translate from my brain to real life. I knew the bay windows were going to be red, green and white. I wanted the main house windows to be more home- y, and finally was satisfied with butterscotch windows.
This was the first attempt at the main house windows.
Bay Windows came out perfectly!
yes, this is a picture of my oven. I sat in front of it watching the windows to make sure they didn’t burn. They didn’t 🙂
Last year I did individual bricks, so this year I wanted to pipe slats out of royal icing. I also thought a quaint light grey would be pretty. My attempt at light grey, ended with more of a Hogwartsy purply grey. After sending the picture to my team of gingerbread advisors. Panic ensued, and I scraped that delicate piece down like my life depended on it.
We were all happier with the Brown slats, and butterscotch windows.
After letting all of the pieces dry overnight, I was ready to assemble. This is always the most stressful part. Breaking a piece at this point sets you back at least two hours.
Once the walls were setting, there was more waiting. I’ve been making these for years, but this was the first time I was patient enough to let it do its thing!
After I attached the bay windows. (5 piece window on the left.) I had to figure out lighting. I wanted the bay windows to have the most light, but I didn’t think through the front wall. The back wall has holes for five light bulbs. Unfortunately the front wall does not. So I Jimmy rigged the lights to go through the back wall and over the front wall into the bay windows. I took a risk thinking I could hide the wires in the roofing. I threaded four of the five lights through the back wall and up over the front wall into the bay windows. I was so nervous about the lights, because once the roof is on, you can’t go back to fix a lightbulb. Thankfully it worked like a charm.
The turret roof on the bay window was a little tricky. Took me four tries to get it to hold. I was so proud of this! At one point my left hand was stabilizing eight pieces, while my right hand frosted as fast as possible. Truth be told, I needed a second pair of hands, I ended up stabilizing the roof while it dried for forty- five minutes. This window quickly became one of my favorite parts of the house!
Let me remind you everything is edible on the house. There is over 6 pounds of chocolate coins on the roof. The spiral on the bay window was just perfection.
After the roof came the details.
I colored some royal icing green, and piped wreaths onto parchment paper. This is why I love royal icing so much. Once the icing dries, you can peel it off and its stable enough to glue to anything. So much easier than trying to pipe the wreaths directly onto the house. I did pipe the pine boughs onto the windows directly. I placed candy coated sunflower seeds with tweezers while the icing was still wet. (why is it all my big projects involve placing tiny things with tweezers?!)
and then I got carried away…
So, It has a wrap around porch. You CANNOT have a wrap around porch without a porch swing!
I glued Andes mints together with royal icing, and used hard candy for the coordinating pillows. I glued twizzlers to my bench so it would swing. Threaded the licorice between the house and the roof and secured it with chocolate coins.
and then I realized the left hand side of the porch looked a little empty. So I fashioned deck chairs out of chocolate covered pretzels and doublemint gum. I made a table for the chairs with a reeses and more gum.
The whoopie pies are actually ice cream sprinkles stuck together with frosting. The mug is a gum drop, on top of a chocolate chip with a macaroni handle.
This is the home tour of the unfinished house. This year, I was blessed enough to have the opportunity to donate my gingerbread house to Primary Children’s Medical Center. It was such a beautiful and tender experience it deserves it’s own post.