Gingerbread in Southern Vermont

It’s December and the Holidays are rapidly approaching. 

Decorations are starting to go up and our Southern Vermont towns are twinkling as businesses and residents drape their buildings in festive lights for our longer winter nights. 

There is something about this time of year that touches us all from young to old.    By now many homes already are infused with the scents of vanilla, butter, cinnamon & ginger as cookie swaps & holiday parties begin to take place.  Cookies are one of the hallmarks of the holiday season and gingerbread in all its forms has been a winter tradition since the dark ages.  It wasn’t until the 1800’s in Germany that formed shaped cookies, often made out of gingerbread, began to be a winter & holiday tradition.

Gingerbread houses are one of the great family traditions that can be as easy or as challenging as you like.  Children, parents and grandparents get into the spirit of things as they collaboratively create and decorate these sweet holiday displays.

Gingerbread houses can be as easy as picking up a kit and assembling all the pieces, to multilevel extravagant structures that would make a seasoned contractor or architect take a second look.

In the Deerfield Valley the Southern Vermont chamber is hoping to help with the holiday tradition by hosting our first Gingerbread House decorating party on December 20, 2015.  Open to the first twenty children who sign up we supply the houses already assembled (no crumbling cookies to make your toddler cry) ready for creative kids and their parents to decorate with icing, and a variety of candies and snacks. 

 

For the competitive adult the Southern Vermont Deerfield Valley Chamber is also asking for participants in a Gingerbread House contest with a $50.00 cash prize to the winner.

 

Planning your own gingerbread house?  Here are a few tips. 

Make sure that your structure is sound.  This recipe is great for a nearly rock hard structure.  If you are planning on eating your gingerbread house on Christmas you may want to stock up on extra milk to soften up these biscuits before trying to gnaw through them.

Royal icing is great for decorating, but is difficult to prepare to the right consistency to use as the “glue” for your house.  Instead try melting down granulated sugar with a teaspoon or two of water in a cast iron pan.  WARNING-melted sugar will can cause burns, be extremely careful when handling.  Once your sugar is bubbly and brownish it’s ready.  Use a wooden spoon to apply to the edges of your house to glue it together.  If your pan is big enough you can even dip the edges of your pieces in the pan for less of a mess.  The sugar hardens up pretty quickly (much quicker than icing).

 

Design elements that look hard but actually aren’t.


  I made this fence using a pizza wheel and scraps from the gingerbread I used for my house.  You can draw out these kind of open frame structures on parchment paper, or go free form as I did to get this look.  Simply layout the structure that you want on parchment paper, making sure that all of the pieces are touching.  As it bakes the individual pieces will bake together.  Don’t have the time or nervous about trying your hand at creating fences from scratch?   Chocolate covered pretzels are one of the many great ways to create a festive looking fence around your property.

 

 

 

Taking your gingerbread house the next step can be fun.  Windows and indoor lighting are a great way to jazz up your house and make it an inviting centerpiece.  Windows can be just cut out of the wall of your gingerbread house.  If you are feeling ambitious you can craft sugar “glass”(check out the Instructables link here) to fill in the holes for a translucent effect.  Battery operated mini lights will give your Gingerbread building a warm welcoming glow.

 

(Check out our new logo in the official Chamber of Commerce Gingerbread House window)

 

Hope you will be able to join us on the 20th!  Until then, hoping you have fun with all of the great seasonal activities & events here in the valley.

Sharon