We love competing in our annual family gingerbread house competition. When we started most of us were just using the store-bought house building kits but since then things have gotten a little out of hand. Last year’s winner was the Titanic!
After last year we knew we had to step up our game if we were going to win. My children came up with the idea to build the Eiffel Tower. It looked amazing!
I knew this was going to be a challenge and we would need a good pattern.
I searched online and found a fantastic pattern for a paper model of the Eiffel Tower to scale. We cut it out and used it for our pattern for the gingerbread. We divided it at the two spots we knew we would have to have a flat landing support.
When you have something different in mind from the usual house kit, you usually have to bake the gingerbread from scratch. I knew it had to be strong to hold the weight of the tower so I searched online and found this recipe for strong gingerbread, without a lot of extra ingredients you would normally use for cookies. Gingerbread House Recipe It worked great. My advice is: if you are looking for really strong pieces, that don’t need to be eaten, cook it longer than they recommend. Cook it until it is dark brown, but not burnt. I had once piece break that was cooked perfectly to eat, but a little too weak for a structure. We were able to support it with mint trees and fondant!
Another trick I learned this year is to use fondant. It is a great emergency supporter, to keep pieces from sliding until the icing dries.
My oldest daughter and I mixed up the gingerbread, rolled it and cut all the pieces using the pattern. We had doubled the recipe but actually only used half of it in the end so I would not double it next time. This recipe was enough to do our whole Eiffel Tower, two small houses (two-inch square), and about twenty cookies.
The recipe called for rolling the dough out on parchment paper and then placing it right on the pan. I’ve never done this before and it was brilliant! So much easier than picking up the pieces from the table and trying to move them over to the pan.
Finally the day came for the competition. We had two hours to put it all together and then the judging commenced.
We all took part. Piping is hard work.
Placing every small silver ball.
Trying to keep the top on. Once it hardened it stayed until we broke it on purpose.
I’d love to hear all your gingerbread house stories!