’Tis the season for gorging on so many sugary holiday treats you risk giving yourself diabetes. A tasty alternative? Put some of those cookies and candies to use—and spare your waistline a bit—by building a festive gingerbread house. For pro tips for budding architects, we tapped Beth Veneto of Quincy’s Ginger Betty’s Bakery, the Kids’ Favorite winner from last year’s Gingerbread House Competition, which will once again bring edible edifices to the Seaport World Trade Center for the 30th annual Boston Christmas Festival on Nov. 4-6.
On climate control… If it’s too damp or humid out, your gingerbread pieces will absorb the moisture and get really soft, even after you’ve baked them. This is tragic in gingerbread land…you may have to bake more walls.
On favorite decorations… A few favorite candies to decorate with are spice drops, rainbow sprinkles, lollipops, peppermints and nonpareils—usually anything colorful and fun. We also use ice-cream cones as Christmas trees and pretzels as fences.
On construction… When I’m going to make a gingerbread house, I always start with a pen and paper first. I draw out the design of my house and make a template out of cardboard or manila folders. Next I roll out dough and cut pieces, making sure that when they’re transferred onto cookie sheets all the edges are straight and even. Once the gingerbread shapes are baked and cooled, I begin assembling. The key for this stage is to make sure your royal icing has stiff peaks. Be sure to let the house structure stand for at least five hours before putting on the roof—it’s best if you let the house sit overnight.