Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cookbook Review - The Gingerbread Architect

Simple gingerbread houses are fairly easy to create with a hand-drawn template, but when it came time to make my gingerbread house for the December Daring Bakers Challenge, I knew I wanted to do something a little more. At just the perfect time, I received a copy of The Gingerbread Architect: Recipes and Blueprints for Twelve Classic American Homes by Susan Matheson and Lauren Chattman.

Half the book is full of recipes for gingerbread and other necessities like royal icing, glossy photos of the twelve homes, as well as information on the architectural features included in each house. As someone who doesn't know a lot of specifics about architecture, I learned a lot just by reading through it. In fact I've taken a picture of my Greek Revival Antebellum Plantation Home and added the names for the features, to give an example.
House with architectural labels

The recipes for each one also include painstaking detail on how to assemble the house, as well as the timetable you should allow for the shopping, baking, preparation, and assembly (they recommend planning to do each house over a 5 day span, and I did mine all in one day, whoops).

The other half of the book is full of the templates, which is half the work. You might need to spend time recreating the templates on poster board, because I wouldn't want to cut anything out of the book, but even when I used a half size version of the template for the antebellum home, I thought it worked perfectly.

I can't wait to make another house from this book next year. I hope to spend more time with it and add more of the recommended detail than I did this time around, as well as making one more full-sized. I tried out several gingerbread recipes in my process, and the one in this book is more reliable than some I came across. I feel like Matheson and Chattman really spent the time to make twelve distinctive gingerbread homes (including pueblo and art deco!) that take time but are accessible to anyone.

Categories: Cookbook Review

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