Many years ago, during my first year at culinary school, there was a brochure in the common area for a gingerbread house competition at a destination shopping center in the suburbs of Philadelphia called Peddler's Village.
There are several categories (Traditional, Authentic Reproduction of a Significant Building, Unusual 3-D Gingerbread Creation, Student, and Kids Only), and there are cash prizes. Entries are judged on overall appearance, "fit" within its category, originality, difficulty of design, and holiday spirit incorporated into the design. Also, any visible element (except the base) must be edible.
I entered that year, but didn't win. For the next several years, they sent a brochure to my home, inviting me to enter, but I was never able to put in the time and effort to build a house. When my brochure arrived this year, I put some serious thought into entering.
The drop-off date was one week before Liam's first birthday party. I figured I could work on the house during Liam's naps (he routinely takes two naps a day, 90 minutes to 2+ hours each) and after he went to bed for the night. I made sure The Mister would be OK with losing some counter space for a while, and mailed in my entry form.
I ended up accepting a job for a 2-tier cake for a small wedding the same weekend, and my part-time work-from-home job sent me a crazy amount of work, so I was feeling a little crazy. There were some long nights, but I got it finished!
All that was left to do was transport it (26 miles away) to the competition/display site. It was a slow, stressful drive, but we made it. I dropped the house off and we headed back home. The judging would take place the following day, and the houses will stay on display in the Gazebo through January 5th (so if you're in the area — go check out all the entries!).
The results were posted on their website last Wednesday, and I won an Honorable Mention! I'm still waiting on the results letter in the mail, which usually contains comments and constructive criticism.
I got the template from the book Gingerbread for all Seasons by Teresa Layman. The book contains an excellent recipe for gingerbread dough, templates for each design, lists of tools and decorating materials, and detailed instructions on how to assemble the house.
Side view of the house. The wreath and the window garland were made with green icing piped onto the gingerbread with a drop-flower tip.
The roof tiles were made of Necco wafers.
I made the trees by piping green royal icing onto inverted ice cream cones with a leaf tip. The star on top is a CakeMate snowflake "sequin." The lampposts are yellow gumdrops on top of peppermint candy sticks.
I'm proud that I did better this time than I did the first time I entered. I'm looking forward to receiving the comments from the panel of judges, and making an even better entry next year!