Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Making a Custom Gingerbread House from Scratch: Elf Movie Theme

If you have been around this blog very long, you have heard about our wacky group of moms and kids that get together once a week at our Homeschool Co-op. At the end of each quarter our motley crew has a celebration of sorts. The themes have a wide range from crazy to cozy but all manage to stay grounded in the element of a rootin' good time.  You may recall last year a couple friends joined me in planning the Redneck Hootenanny end of quarter party {that has since become the #1 blog post favorite}. This year it was a Christmas Party Extravaganza - gingerbread house contest, gift exchange and good grub included! SO.MUCH.FUN.

Well, give us a craft challenge and we will jiggety jump. It had been two years since our last gingerbread creation and we needed some inspiration to get our creative juices flowing freely. A suggestion of all thing ELF was made by the dear hub and we were bursting with ideas. 

First, we needed to create a model of what we would be building. I grabbed an old, used (yes Mr. Postman,,, I didn't break a federal law... it was used and headed to recycling) box and formed the buildings and a liner to fit within my tray base. The kids and I talked about where things should go and what parts of the movie we felt was most important to present in the small space we were limited with. I drew a very primitive plot plan.

Next we whipped up the gingerbread dough. I wanted to make a gingerbread that would be hard enough for the buildings but yummy enough to eat the scraps. I decided on a recipe that was once used (may still be) at the White House. Here is the recipe for the White House Gingerbread Recipe.

It was originally published in Mailbox News (a cake decorating magazine), and is the actual White House gingerbread house recipe used by then White House Pastry Chef Hans Raffert.
We rolled out the dough and disassembled our cardboard to use as patterns. Baked them - and trimmed to sharp edges while the building pieces were still on the baking pan (before they had a chance to cool). 

Turned out great! 

Then it came time to figure out the glue. I decided to go with the basic royal icing recipe that comes on the Wilton's Meringue Powder tub. I made a double batch.

Got my pastry tubes filled with the proper decorator tips and we got to work assembling.  Then, we let the building set for a day before embellishing with sweet goodness.

Needless to say - we finished so far ahead of time, we just kept adding more day, by day. The signage ended up being my favorite addition.

As we probably all know, Elf starts at the North Pole and passes Narwhal on his way to the Candy Cane Forest, on to the Sea of Swirly Twirly Gumdrops and through the Lincoln Tunnel. Arriving in New York he seeks his Dad out at Gimbels Dept. Store, Spins in the rotating doors (different building but we added it to Gimbels) and discovers the Worlds Best Cup of Coffee.  His route was marked by some sweet tart candy stepping stones throughout the whole scene we created.

We had such a blast! Everyone was able to contribute and feel proud with the end result of our combined efforts. The great news is we have a month to appreciate this labor of love.

Oh, and we did win the competition. ;)

I wish I would have thought of doing this last year for our Family Christmas Countdown Party Series: Elf Movie Night! 

 -Simply Sublime

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