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What is Wednesday’s Wonderment?

November 30, 2016

“Building a gingerbread house is a common family tradition for the holidays, but Nemacolin Woodlands Resort has taken the tradition to a whole new level this year.

Visitors can walk through the doors of the life-size gingerbread house, which is built with 500 pounds of flour, 600 pounds of powdered sugar, 10 gallons of eggs and 200 pounds of assorted candy.

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Photo shows the building under construction

Pastry chef Scott Tennant headed up the effort to build and decorate a 12-by-12-by-14-foot gingerbread house inside the lobby of Chateau Lafayette, one of the Farmington resort’s hotels.

The resort’s carpenters started the process in October by building a complete wooden house in two- to three-foot sections that could be separated, carried through the lobby’s front doors piece by piece, and reconnected.

By mid-November, the pastry shop was busy cranking out 2,500 gingerbread bricks. The workers laid the bricks against the wooden walls, plastering them together with royal icing “mortar.” That’s about 700 to 800 pounds of gingerbread.

Pastry makers decorated the outside of the house with Gummies, hard candies and other confections. Mr. Tennant said the workers aimed to add splashes of color without going “over the top” so they could create a relatively realistic effect.

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The final gingerbread bakery

Indoors, the house has gingerbread planks resembling paneling along the lower third of the walls, with a gingerbread chair rail lined with candy. A baker will offer samples inside the gingerbread house for a few hours each day through Jan. 1, and on Jan. 2 the house will come down.

For several years, Nemacolin has built gingerbread displays: a castle, a train, a Snoopy’s Christmas display, and last year, a large gingerbread house. But this is the first year the resort has built something the public can actually walk through.

When the resort first started making gingerbread displays a few years ago, all work was done in secret, behind a curtain. When workers decided to change things up and construct their displays out in the open, they immediately attracted a following. People would stop by to watch the process and exclaim over how good the gingerbread smelled.

“The workers would take extra pieces and put frosting on them and give them to people,” Mr. Tennant said.

That’s what got him thinking about building something people could walk inside.

The final product has taken a team of 15 people a total of 600 to 800 hours to make.

By the numbers:

600 pounds powdered sugar

500 pounds flour

200 pounds assorted candy

120 pounds honey

120 pounds molasses

110 pounds brown sugar

60 pounds shortening

15 gallons egg whites

10 gallons eggs

6 pounds baking soda

5 pounds ginger

3 pounds allspice

3 pounds cinnamon

From the Post-Gazette, courtesy Robb

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