Every Christmas for the past 18 years, we have made a gingerbread house/castle/barn/ church/city block/log cabin/etc. creation in our home. It is a family tradition, I suppose, though for the past few years I assumed that that holiday’s gingerbread creation would be our last. This year, with everything going on post-earthquake and post-storm, I was pretty sure we wouldn’t manage to get a gingerbread structure up. But the Teen was determined to keep up the tradition… so for the first time since she was born, this year’s creation is all hers… from design, to planning, baking, assembly, decorating, etc. — this is the Teen’s first major holiday gingerbread creation. And what a “debut” — as it sits proudly in the entry foyer of our Zubuchon Escario Central branch, for thousands of diners to enjoy during the holiday season 2013.
I am pretty OC or AR, but the Teen’s preparations beat me by a mile!!! She researched on-line for a suitable castle to serve as the inspiration for her mountain “aerie”. She then sketched all of the “panels” of gingerbread required, measured and scaled to size!
She built little 3D scale models with yellow pad legal paper and scotch tape, to ensure that it looked right.
And she worked with her chief contractor (my Chief of Stuff) to build the styrofoam base for the castle. All of this started in mid-November, at the height of our storm relief efforts — with a goal to get it up and fully decorated by the beginning of December!
The castle was assembled in styrofoam form on our office conference table…
…the Teen cut out the pieces of gingerbread, which thankfully, were mostly rolled out for her by one of the commissary cooks with muscle. Rolling is the most difficult task really and I find I am too old (or my back not up for it) to flatten serious amounts of gingerbread dough. It helps that we have a four-deck oven in the office commissary, so baking went much faster than it does in our home with a single oven.
Each panel was decorated with a fine icing tip and lots of royal icing. I do NOT have a STEADY hand, so she did most of the piping… and despite my warnings that such a design was hand numbing… she perservered and got it done.
The individual panels were left to dry overnight, then attached to the styrofoam base the next morning.
By early afternoon, the large castle was loaded into the back of our vehicle and gingerly (pun intended) transported to the Escario Central branch less than a kilometer away. Every bump on the road threatened a massive earthquake-like effect on the structure.
At the restaurant, the gingerbread house was placed on a “carved” mountainside setting.
And father and daughter tandem rushed to decorate the base and get this all set up before the next dinner rush. There is something so incredibly comforting about traditions such as this… and I can say with certainty that daughter has inherited the gingerbread mantle and is welcome to do them annually from now on. :)
The main structure of the castle was left unadorned with candy.
But on either side of the hill, the village cabins were gaudily decked in all manner of sweets. They were completed by folks in our main office, so they each had a character all their own… we took to naming them… the OFW from Italy, the loud karaoke singer, the smuggler’s retreat, the local doctor’s home… :)
The Teen taking a bubble tea break, admiring her handiwork thus far…
…but the truth is this kind of undertaking takes a LOT of people to complete, and her our restaurant managers, construction handyman, chefs, waiters, etc. help to get the holiday tableau all finished.
The village homes were fantastic as well, and extremely colorful. I am sure they will feature in a few young kids’ dreams this holiday season. Guests come and inspect the gingerbread display closely, often touching, sometimes removing candy, but always with a smile and expression of delight or awe. It is incredibly heartwarming to watch them from afar.
The Teen did a few final touch-ups with an icing piping bag…
…and voila, her gingerbread castle, circa 2013! If you are in Cebu or visiting during the holidays, you may want drop by our Escario Central branch to see it. It will be up until Three Kings in January, after which it will be removed to make way for the Sinulog celebrations 2014! Happy Holidays!
P.S., Many, many thanks to all of the Zubuchon office staff, kitchen crew, branch staff and our own private crew for assisting the Teen on her debut piece. She couldn’t have done it without you!