4-H Gingerbread Decorating Challenge

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Did you know that gingerbread houses originated in Germany during the 16th century? The elaborate cookie-walled houses, decorated with foil in addition to gold leaf, became associated with Christmas tradition. Supposedly popularized when the Brothers Grimm wrote the story of Hansel and Gretel, in which the main characters stumble upon a house made entirely of treats deep in the forest.

Gingerbread house decorating

DEADLINE: December 15, 2021, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Swain County office.

  • All Gingerbread house/structure entries must be made with Graham Crackers (NO KITS) and be a recognizable house/structure.
  • All Gingerbread houses/structures must be placed on a sturdy cardboard base not to exceed 18”x18”.
  • All Gingerbread houses/structures must be 100% edible (candy, embellishments, materials) except the baseboard and candy wrappers. Non-edible support structure material other than the baseboard may not be used.
  • No artificial interior materials, such as Styrofoam, are to be used to construct or decorate the house/structure.
  • Non-edible decorations, such as paint, ribbon, figurines, etc. may be used ONLY to decorate your base.
  • A title to your Gingerbread House/Structure along with a brief description should be submitted with your entry or your entry will not be accepted for judging.
  • All Gingerbread Houses/Structures must be dropped off between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on December 15 to be judged and displayed at the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Swain County office.
  • Items may be picked up on Tuesday, December 21 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. All entries left past 4 p.m. will be disposed of.
  • All entries will be judged on the following: Overall Appearance, Creativity and Originality, and Technique and Skill.

Gingerbread House/Structure Tips

  • Icing is the glue that holds the gingerbread house/structure and materials together. The icing should be stiff enough to work as a glue and hold its shape, but flexible enough to spread easily.
  • If you would like to color your icing, use paste food coloring. Liquid food coloring will thin out the icing. Keep a moist towel over the mixing bowl to keep the icing from hardening.
  • Let Icing dry completely. If your icing is soft the walls and roof will slip and slide around when you add candy and decorations.

Royal Icing Recipe

  • 3 tablespoons Meringue Powder
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 5 tablespoons warm water

Beat all ingredients together until icing forms stiff peaks. 10 to 12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held electric mixer.

NOTES: Be careful not to over-whip your icing. Incorporating too much air may make it difficult for the icing to stick to the gingerbread house. It may also cause the icing to crack.

For more information contact: Kyla-Jo Farmer, 4-H Agent at (828) 488-3848 or kyla-jo_farmer@ncsu.edu.