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Gingerbread houses for all

Library workshop serves up baking basics for the holiday tradition

gingerbread-houses-125

ABOVE: Family members, clockwise from bottom, Natasha Parmer, McKenzie Whiting, Scott Parmer and Tammy Anderson and granddaughter Rylee, 2, make houses at the Logan County District Libraries’ gingerbread workshop Tuesday evening. BELOW: A few of Rhonda Bingaman’s gingerbread creations, including a gingerbread village, gingerbread sleigh laden with cake pops and two gingerbread houses, adorn the counter at the Library. FRONT PAGE PHOTO: Lola Richards, left, of DeGraff and Brenda Hodges of Bellefontaine create houses during the workshop. (EXAMINER PHOTOS | REUBEN MEES)

gingerbread-houses

There are only a few main ingredients to a proper gingerbread house, according to a lesson presented by a local home baker at the Tuesday evening gingerbread workshop hosted by the Logan County District Libraries.

“Make sure you have a clean work space,” Rhonda Bingaman of Rhonda’s Cakes and More said, noting that it will accumulate some degree of messiness by the end of the process.

“Make sure you have all the ingredients first and don’t do it on a humid day,” the baker said.

Unfortunately, the rain and unseasonably warm temperatures on the first Tuesday of December weren’t quite ideal for the  workshop she conducted at the main branch of the local library, but none of the participants’ gingerbread houses fell through by the end of the evening.

“Don’t let the icing start to dry out, but have fun that’s the main thing,” Mrs. Bingaman said. “And use your imagination.”

The evening afforded young families as well as senior citizens a chance to get out and show off their creativity.

“Normally, we sit at home and watch TV, but we wanted to go out and get a little festive, shake the Scrooge out of me,” said Natasha Parmer, who attended the event with her husband Scott, her children and her mother.

“Usually we try to make (gingerbread houses) when they mark them down, but this weekend we are making cookies and hard tack candy.”

For other participants like Virginia Artis of West Mansfield, the evening was a chance to refresh her talents.

“I read about it in the paper and thought it would be a fun thing to do,” Ms. Artis said. “I asked my friend Ronnie (McLane of Mt. Victory) if she wanted to make gingerbread houses.”

So it became an evening in which the duo practiced their icing and assembling skills before trying to host a party for their friends who might also be interested in making gingerbread houses.

“I thought if we were going to do it, we might as well learn how to do it right,” Ms. Artis said, noting it was the first time she had attempted to build a gingerbread house since helping her granddaughter during a school function.

In addition to having a proper work space, ideal atmospheric conditions and a proclivity for fun, ingredients are key, according to a tip sheet distributed at the event.

Baking and cutting the gingerbread in straight lines and angles are key and can be accomplished by using parchment paper to bake and the waxed outer side of cereal boxes to cut out templates that can be found in books or on the Internet, Mrs. Bingaman said.

Once baked and cut, always allow the pieces to dry at least 24 hours, she said.

And don’t forget the royal icing. A good batch is made with the right combination of powdered sugar, egg whites and cream of tartar. But don’t let it sit too long it or it will harden and clog the tips of the piping bags used to fasten the gingerbread walls of the home together, she warned the participants.

The houses created at the event cost about $2.50 each and can be an affordable way for a family or friends to spend a day together, Mrs. Bingaman said.

“It’s an easy $10 project that could be a full day of fun ... especially if you bake it yourself,” she said.

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