Sugar & Spice and Everything Nice Goes into CMC Gingerbread Houses

O.K., so it’s not exactly Habitat for Humanity, but the tradition of Gingerbread House building at the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum during the holiday season is one idea that’s, well, far from half-baked!

Although Gingerbread Houses have been on the rise (baking pun intended) at CMC for a few years now, since 2008, Kaitlyn Gelpi ’11 has been the chef in charge of architecting the scrumptious structure.

And architecture it is; according to Gelpi, this year’s house took 10 batches of gingerbread dough, 12 pounds of powdered sugar, 63 egg whites, five pounds of chocolate and two giant sheet trays of rice crispy treats to make. The incredible edible dimensions are 16″ wide 15 1/2″ deep and 13″ tall.

In addition to those addicting ingredients, the Gingerbread House has the kinds of “bells and whistles” that any self-respecting witch out of a Grimm’s Fairytale would covet, including candy canes, gum drops and even Jolly Ranchers.

“I continue to make the Gingerbread House each holiday season because every year is a challenge to make better, more detailed houses,” Gelpi says.

According to Gelpi, the Gingerbread House takes about 20-30 hours over the course of a month to construct, and outside help is appreciated but not required.

“I do the majority of the work alone but I have friends that occasionally help doing random odds and ends, like baking a new piece to replace one that might be broken or making royal icing,” she says.

And what about the total calorie count once the House is finished?

“Oh goodness, several thousand I would imagine,” Gelpi says.

Be sure to stop by the Ath and see Gelpi’s house before someone gobbles it up.

Gelpi isn’t the only one architect on campus, however.

Maybe her elaborate, edible gingerbread houses the past few years sparked the fever at CMC. All we know is that on a recent day, Grace Cowan ’11 was spotted at a local Trader Joe’s, filling her cart with boxes of gingerbread house kits. From there, she was off to Target, for a second load.

The icing on the cake came a day or so later, when students were invited to The Hub to build their own dessert houses, using the kits Cowan picked up. It’s a tradition that’s been sponsored by ASCMC for the past three years, Cowan says. And although guys were noticeably absent from the scene this year, the women were happy to take time at the end of their week for treats.

“We all have an 18-page paper due on Tuesday, so this is a nice break,” McKenzie Javorka ’14 said. “I’m from Seattle, so I’m used to snow which we don’t have a lot of here,” added Laila Heid ’14. “This is nice because it reminds me of home and gets me into the holiday spirit.”

Asked what she liked most about the event, another student replied, “It was incredibly messy and fun!” All at least seemed to agree on their post-construction plans: eat the evidence.

Photo credit: Kristina Bergess ’12 and Carlton Rueb ’11