Note- this post was to have gone up almost four days ago but I got struck by an awful cold all the while displaced from my home (and photoshop) while our furnace was being replaced. Sorry it has been quiet around here this week.
My brother-in-law is an architect. He has some mad skills when it comes to anything construction related. He helped Nathan tear out and rebuild part of our stairwell in our old house. When I asked him to design me a chicken coop we got a booklet of plans for not a chicken coop but a chicken PALACE. That situation was a bit out of control. His knowledge and expertise is so valuable and it is not uncommon to hear Nathan and him discussing different ways of doing the thousands of home improvement projects we want to do.
A week ago Sunday I got a text from him informing me that in 6 days there would be a gingerbread house competition and asking if I wanted to help him make one. Let me stop there and tell you that if an architect asks you to help build a gingerbread house you should just say no. They don’t build gingerbread houses like the rest of us. I should have known this because of the chicken coop plans but clearly I just dove head first in. I found a recipe and texted it back with a “of course I want to help!”
We started on this monstrosity on Tuesday. We erroneously thought we could get the dough made, cut out and baked on Tuesday night. All we got done that night was making the dough. Which took forever. Also, we nearly killed ourselves every time we added the cinnamon and ginger to the batter. It would puff up out of the kitchen aid burning our eyes and making us choke. I think we unwittingly found a new chemical weapon.
Wednesday night was all Ryan. This man is nothing if not driven. He had a system for rolling out and cutting all the pieces. I’m fairly confident he was working on till 1 am. Amazingly he only had to remake one piece. He even sorted out how to make pretty windows out of crushed butterscotch candies.
Thursday was house assembly and we all got to see exactly how amazing this house would be. Ryan’s design skills are incredible. He even had lights to put inside the house. It was the earliest we were done all week. The whole contraption got put in a back room behind a closed door so my kitties wouldn’t demolish it in the night. When I got up on Friday the very first thing I did was check to make sure it was still standing- and it was!
Madness all over my dinning room table
Friday afternoon Ryan and I finally took over the entire kitchen/dinning room in full decorating mode. We had a candy shop’s worth of goodies strewn everywhere not to mention bits of frosting stuck to everything including ourselves. We meticulously worked for hours on end on this creation. I cannot stress enough that I was merely helping with the execution- Ryan was the one who planned the whole things down to the snowball fight and Christmas lights. He is the genius here.
Want to know the best part? Ryan’s house won! Because he is an architect the house was entered in the professional category. He won best in show for his category. And as if that isn’t enough he also won the People’s Choice award. Everyone loved the house.
Tiny details (those shingles took for ever)
We are all so proud of him. I am privileged to have gotten to work on it and so happy to get to share all these pictures (and the two recipes we used) with you.
Gingerbread house dough (we made this recipe 8 times)
Adapted from Food Network
1/2 cup crisco at room temperature
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup light molasses 1 tablespoon cinnamon1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour2 tablespoons water
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and baking soda together until the mixture is smooth. Blend in the flour and water to make a stiff dough. Chill at least 30 minutes or until firm. Roll out and bake at 350 F till done. Depending on the thickness this can take anywhere from 15-30 min. Watch it carefully.
My tiny pond. I made that!
Royal Icing Recipe (total we made this recipe 6 times)
Adapted from Gingerbread Haven
1 pound of confectionery sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 egg whites
Place all the ingredients in your stand mixer and whisk to stiff peaks- about 10 minutes.
Icing and hedges
Mr. and Mrs. Gingerbread greet you at the front door
The sweet carolers.
Is that a snow angel? You betcha.
And a snowball fight? Of course.
Gorgeous gingerbread tree
A hockey match even!
Check out the details on that chimney.
The finished monstrosity at the competition!