- Entries must be delivered to the Southeast Ohio History Center, 24 W. State Street on December 1st between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. They must remain on display until December 30.
- Entries must be original. Only children and children’s group may use kits as the basis for their entries. No kits are permitted for those other than children.
- Entries must be created on a ½” or ¾” thick plywood base not to exceed 18 inches x 18 inches, or if using a round base, 18” in diameter. Entries may be no taller than 20 inches. The base must be covered.
- Use only Royal Icing (recipe below or “google” for a recipe). We cannot accept entries made with butter or egg icing which will soften and become rancid.
- Entries must be constructed and composed of edible materials that do not need refrigeration. Candies must be unwrapped and free of any non-edible materials such as lollipop sticks. It must be evident to the judges that the main structure is composed mostly of gingerbread. Fondant may be used but must not cover the structure entirely. Do not include interior lighting unless powered by battery.
- Entries must be sprayed with a clear lacquer spray available at any hardware store. This preserves the structure and guards against attracting insects.
TIPS FOR SUCCESS!!
Making a gingerbread creation is fun and rewarding! Here are some tips for success:
- See the photos of past entries on this website for many general good ideas.
- Use LOTS of Royal Icing when constructing your house. It strengthens your creation and helps it hold up over time.
- It’s good to cover the base with aluminum foil before building your structure. And to give the base a finished look, consider covering the edge with trim, lace or another covering.
- There are many good websites that can guide you with ideas and techniques. Google “how to make a gingerbread house” and you’ll find lots of help.
The following is offered by Sarah Boumphrey, winner of the 2015 Grand Prize Non-professional category for her replica of the Burrito Buggy.
Gingerbread Recipe for Construction of Gingerbread Houses
WARNING: This is a super dense recipe, for house construction only. Do not use this recipe for gingerbread you intend to eat, unless you have a crush on your dentist, and have been looking for excuses to see him/her way more.
- 1 1/4 cup shortening
- 1 1/2c. sugar
- 2 T cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin spice, or whatever other festive spice you have on hand.
- 9 cups flour
- ½ c. corn starch
- 2 cups dark corn syrup or molasses
- ¼ c. water
- In a large bowl cream together the shortening, sugar and spices until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. (The spices are not necessary to the structure of the gingerbread, but they smell nice.)
- Add the flour two cups at a time, and thoroughly mix after each addition. The result will look crumbly.
- Pour in the molasses and water and mix thoroughly.
- Divide the dough into three or four parts, and knead each part on the counter top. The resulting dough will have the density of modeling clay, and will be smooth and shiny.
- Tightly wrap each dough ball in plastic wrap, and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour so the dough can set. (At this point, you can also tightly wrap the dough, and store it in the fridge for up to a couple of days before beginning your construction, if desired. NOTE: the dough must be at room temperature when you begin your construction, or else it will crack.)
- When ready to roll out the gingerbread, lay it on parchment or wax paper, and roll to a thickness of ¼ inch. Try to keep the thickness as uniform as possible, as thinner areas will create weakness across the dough, and make it more likely to crack. (If you want to get super-finicky about it, put ¼ thick dowel rods on either side of the dough, which will act as guides for your rolling pin, and won’t allow you to roll any thinner than ¼ inch.
- Once your gingerbread is rolled out, you can cut it into the desired shape for your house (I make paper templates first, and use them as stencils when I cut out my gingerbread. It helps to make sure that all of the pieces are the exact dimensions needed when it is time to assemble the house.)
- Once you have all of your pieces cut out, place them on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and allow them to dry out overnight. This overnight drying process prevents warping of the gingerbread as it cooks. To further prevent warping, you may want to prick the gingerbread all over with a fork before drying it, especially if you plan to cover much of your creation with fondant/royal icing post-baking.
- When ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees F, and place the pieces in the oven. Use a wooden spoon to keep the oven slightly cracked when baking (this allows the moisture evaporating off the dough to escape more easily, and prevents warping. Bake for 2-3 hours (you will know the pieces are ready to be removed from the oven when you press the wooden spoon onto a piece, and it feels firm/doesn’t leave an imprint.)
- Allow pieces to cool to room temperature before beginning assembly of your gingerbread creation. (Warm pieces of gingerbread are more likely to crack or break when handled/manipulated.)
- Make royal icing as instructed on the Uptown for the Holidays Gingerbread Competition website (http://athensgingerbread.com/rules/), and decorate! The icing recipe can be altered into a thicker or thinner consistency based on your needs, by adding powdered sugar, meringue powder and cream of tartar for a thicker icing, or thinning the icing with water. (I use a thicker, sturdier version of the icing for construction, and a thinner icing for decorating. Also, if using fondant over top of your creation, use a thicker royal icing.)
Recipe for Royal Icing
Makes about 2 ½ cups
(Use in large quantities to strengthen your entry!)
1 lb. powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons meringue powder *(found at Joann Fabric or in Athens at the Bulk Food Depot, Radford Rd. Some recipes use egg whites instead of meringue. Search online for other recipes.)
½ Teaspoon cream of tartar
3 and ½ oz. of water (slightly less than 1/2 cup)
Beat until icing forms stiff peaks and holds a sharp line when knife is drawn through. Keep covered with a damp cloth to keep icing from drying out. Work with a small amount of icing at a time. Store unused icing in a tightly closed container.