O little town of gingerbread...

by - Monday, December 18, 2017

Mom and I were watching The Chew on one of the twelve days before Christmas when introduced to the idea. I still recall Clinton Kelly assisting Sandra Lee with a tiered cake upon which they stacked gingerbread cookie house fronts all around. It was three stories high and the facades were decorated with white icing. It looked pretty and fun and very involved, but I really wanted to try it.

I missed the sleigh on it last year, but now was the perfect time to tackle such a project. I purchased three boxed mixes - Trader Joe's gingerbread cake, Duncan Hines vanilla cake, and Betty Crocker gingerbread cake. After all, I am a semi-homemade kinda gal.

Before anything, I found a picture online and sketched out my basic idea, measuring the circumference of the baking pans to approximate the size and quantity of houses to create. I planned only two tiers, and they would need to be doubled for some extra height, thus both the vanilla and gingerbread cake mixes.

Trader Joe's gingerbread cake mix is perfect for cookies. Brenna and I use the mix to make them every year. Simply adding one egg and a stick of melted butter, the dough is always supremely flavored and sturdy enough for holiday figures, so I knew it would be appropriate for the houses. After preparing the dough a day ahead, it was firm out of the fridge and easy to roll on the floured counter top. Previously cutting out a comparative house size in graph paper, I used a pizza cutter to shape the simple facades since I didn't have a cookie cutter I wanted. Sometimes you just have to improvise.

Once the cookies cooled completely, simple white icing was used to create the outline details. It was pretty easy since the Wilton icing came with nozzles already on the package tube. Now the completed cookies had to harden. At this point, they smelled so good, I was tempted to nibble a rooftop! 

I baked two layers of vanilla, one large and one small, repeating this with the remaining gingerbread cake mix. The large bottom began with a layer of vanilla, then gingerbread, repeating the smaller top in layers of vanilla and gingerbread, all glued together with white store-bought cream cheese frosting. The frosting of the cakes was done pretty rough since all I wanted to do was cover the cake enough to create the base of the village. 

It took a little bit of re-positioning to finally get the houses to look somewhat even. This being my first attempt, I realized the house cookies were too big, but made the best of it anyway. Even though it didn't look like the Google picture on my phone, it did resemble the sketch I had drawn. 

Well, it looks like a loving-hands-at-home rendition even with a sprinkle of powder sugar atop. My village is sitting pretty on the holiday cake stand in the dining room awaiting Christmas Day, while I'm waiting to bite into a snow-capped chimney. O little town of gingerbread, you smell so delightful... xoxo-Sonya

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