I’ve been holding a Rowdy Baker “Holiday House” contest for five (now six!) years running, and have seen some great houses made . . . mostly made by youngsters. I love seeing kids in the kitchen, and am thrilled to have them participate, but am convinced that adults are missing out on all the fun!
And it is fun. It’s also messy, frustrating, and persnickety, but mostly FUN!
I’m just beginning to get comfortable with creating my own templates for the structures. I (loosely) followed instructions from a great book: “The Gingerbread Architect” by Susan Matheson and Lauren Chattman, for some of my creations and still use the recipe in the book for my gingerbread base, though I add a little less leavening and a little more spice than the authors call for.
The collapse of my house in 2015 was not the fault of the plans in the book. I think I just wasn’t patient enough. It really helps to spread your efforts out over a few days and let that royal icing set hard as you go.
I don’t enter my own contest, of course, but I do play along. I can’t ask people to do something I wouldn’t do, right? Besides, I love making huge messes and staying up until the wee hours creating all the little details. Sometimes it’s challenging, but I try to make every single item on my houses edible.
I’ll show you the houses I’ve made so far, and just add to this post every year.
2018 A dollhouse style home with a family of mice. It’ll take more than two photos to give you a good idea of what was inside. Everything was edible except for the foil on a few pieces of candy.
2017 A mountain of fudge with a gingerbread cabin and gingerbread critters.
2016 (my personal favorite) a barn with gum paste and/or chocolate clay reindeer and farm animals inside. This thing was huge. And heavy!
2015 I actually made two. One was a monster of a house (which collapsed the next day in a very dramatic fashion.) and the other was an igloo made of sugar.
2014 was a more traditional house. I put a glow stick inside and the light shone through the windows.
2013 was the year that started it all. A blogging friend and I put out a challenge to make a pretzel house. The two of us were the only ones who actually entered, but we sure had a blast.
So there you have it: five years of planning, swearing, and creating. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. The holidays are so busy, it’s hard to cut out time for a project like this, but so much of it can be simplified. And when it’s done (which is never, because you’ll keep thinking of just one more thing to add to your house) you’ll be pretty proud of your accomplishment.
Let that flour fly!