Bringing a gingerbread creation to life
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Decorating gingerbread houses can be a fun holiday tradition that takes a little creativity, a steady hand, and lots of icing. It is one of my favorite holiday traditions, which takes on a whole new meaning at Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe.
Each year, our team develops an extravagant gingerbread village display with a unique theme. This year’s gingerbread display showcases a snow village complete with snowy cottages and a train. The structure features over 252 pounds of marshmallows, 110 pounds of powdered sugar, 83 pounds of butter, 80 pounds of flour, 32 pounds of rice krispies, 30 pounds of eggs, 26 pounds of brown sugar, and more.
While we have a lot of fun creating an over-the-top gingerbread display at the resort each year, not all gingerbread creations have to be challenging, and in fact they can be a fun holiday activity the entire family can enjoy.
I’ve included below my top tips for making a gingerbread house at home along with my favorite gingerbread house recipe.
My biggest tip for creating a gingerbread house is to set enough time for the entire process. It is important to begin baking and assembling your gingerbread house at least one day before you begin decorating in order to provide enough time for the culinary glue to dry and to give you a solid foundation to decorate.
Use different types of icing but overdo it
One way to create the perfect gingerbread house is to make two different types of icing. The first batch should be made thick, but still tacky as it will be used as a culinary glue to adhere the gingerbread pieces together. The second batch of icing should be thin and will be used to decorate the outside of the holiday gingerbread home.
While the different icing types are key, less icing is more when it comes to creating your gingerbread house. I recommend using as little icing as possible at a time to ensure that it does not slide off the gingerbread house and take all of your decorations with it.
In order to create a unique gingerbread display, it’s important to have fun and think outside of the box. For example, adding pretzel rods to the outside of your home can quickly create a log cabin feel. Starburst candies can be used as a modeling clay to create a variety of different elements to your home, and star anise can add stars to your gingerbread home and enhance the aroma of the gingerbread.
You can also use different types of cereal to create the appearance of shingles on the rooftop of your homes, or leave off the roof panel and decorate the inside of the home. The possibilities are truly endless.
Make it simple
If you want to simplify the process, you can skip the DIY element of making a gingerbread house from scratch and opt instead for an easy decorating kit. Gingerbread house kits are available at stores throughout the country, and in fact I’ve created my very own gingerbread kit available at Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe. While you will not get the full in-the-kitchen experience with a pre-made gingerbread house kit, it doesn’t take away from the fun in taking part in a fun holiday activity with your loved ones.
Chef Jeremy Moore’s Gingerbread House Recipe
2 cups butter, softened
2 ½ cups brown sugar
7 ¼ cups bread flour
3 tsp ground ginger
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp baking powder
2 cups molasses
1. Whip the butter until it is white in color and fluffy with an electric mixer.
2. Mix in the brown sugar until it is incorporated.
3. Mix in the molasses.
4. Scrape the bowl really well making sure to get the very bottom.
5. Add in the bread flour, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder.
6. Once the dry ingredients are mostly mixed into the butter add in the eggs and mix until completely incorporated.
7. Put in a plastic bag or wrap well with plastic wrap and refrigerator. (Ideally 2 days or longer)
8. Pull the gingerbread dough out and leave at room temperature for 30 minutes.
9. Roll out your dough to about ¼” thickness.
10. Bake at 300F for 45-60 minutes to dry the cookies out.
11. Let the gingerbread sit uncovered for a day or two to dry out before building.
Tip: If your dough is not rolling out smooth. Fold the dough in half and roll out again until smooth.
Tip #2: Freeze the dough before cutting shapes will allow you to get nice clean lines and solid shapes.
Ingredients (Construction Icing)
Egg whites from 3 eggs
¼ cup powdered sugar
Instructions (Construction Icing)
1. Stir the egg whites and powdered sugar together until smooth.
2. Use the construction icing on all the sides to assemble the house.
3. Let the house sit overnight for the icing to dry before decorating.
Jeremy Moore is the pastry chef at Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino in Incline Village.
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