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Five Tips for Avoiding a Gingerbread House Disaster this Holiday Season

Sodexo Executive Chef behind the gingerbread replica of the U.S. Capitol shares expert advice to guide your gingerbread house making

GAITHERSBURG, Md., Dec. 17, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- For centuries, celebrating the holiday season has included the tradition of baking gingerbread cookies and building gingerbread houses.  Whether you bake them from scratch or use a kit, building a gingerbread house is a fun activity for the whole family.   However, there can be some frustrations along the way with candies not sticking or roofs sagging. For those who worry their efforts will result in a gloppy mess, food service provider Sodexo is offering a public service by sharing expert advice from the creative force behind the 6-foot-wide gingerbread replica of the U.S. Capitol now on display at the U.S. House of Representatives until January 3.

Sodexo has sponsored the gingerbread U.S. Capitol for the last three years under the culinary leadership of Sodexo Executive Chef, Fred Johnson.  He has turned the challenge to build a gingerbread replica of the Capitol building into a passion project involving 378 hours of planning, baking, and building.  The numbers involved are astounding; 110 pounds of icing, 175 pounds of gingerbread dough, 315 cups of flour.

Reflecting on the display, Chef Johnson explained, "I enjoy creating art with food and seeing the smiles on people's faces when they see the gingerbread Capitol makes me very proud. Improving quality of life is important to Sodexo and this is a fun way to make someone's day a little better."

While your gingerbread house plans may not be as ambitious, the same principles apply to ensure your efforts are successful. Chef Johnson shares these five tips:

Build in place:  Gingerbread houses are awkward to move once completed and you would hate to have it end up on the floor after all your hard work. Identify a spot where you would like to display the gingerbread house and build there if possible or as close as you can. However, avoid areas with direct heat such as air vents or halogen lamps.  Also, be mindful of spaces that pets could reach.

Size and shape matter: Unless you're a pro, avoid shapes with curves like rounded walls or domes. Narrow pieces are more likely to snap, so use designs that feature wider pieces. You don't want your pieces to be too thin as they will be more fragile or too thick or they will require more support. Roll your dough to about 1/8 of an inch. 

Bake it longer: You want your gingerbread to be harder and sturdier, so bake your gingerbread longer than you would if you were going to eat it. After the initial baking, flip the pieces and put them back in the oven on a lower temperature to dry out the gingerbread as much as possible.

It's ok to cheat: If you need to support your gingerbread house walls and roof, use wooden sticks or cans to provide reinforcement. They can be concealed inside the house. If you want the gingerbread house to only have edible elements, Rice Krispies Treats provide a delicious option for structural support.

Icing Icing Baby: One of the biggest downfalls to gingerbread house bliss is not using the right type of icing. It is best to  make your own Royal Icing. You may need to adjust your sugar & egg white ratio to get the perfect consistency depending on if you are using the icing to connect pieces and provide support or to use as a glue for the decorative elements.  If you prefer to purchase your icing, Wilton Ready-to-Use icing tubes and similar products can do the job.

Learn more at Sodexo Inspired Thinking  and follow us on instagram at sodexonorthamerica.

About Sodexo North America
Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 72 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. The company employs 160,000 people at 13,000 sites in all 50 U.S. states and Canada, and indirectly supports tens of thousands of additional jobs through its annual purchases of $19 billion in goods and services from small to large businesses. Sodexo is committed to supporting diversity and inclusion and safety, while upholding the highest standards of corporate responsibility and ethical business conduct. In support of local communities across the U.S., in 2018, Sodexo contributed over 159,500 in volunteer hours, and since 1996, the Stop Hunger Foundation has contributed nearly $34.5 million to help feed children in America impacted by hunger. To learn more about Sodexo, visit us.sodexo.com, and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.

Contact:  Enrico Dinges, Sodexo, 301-987-4393 or enrico.dinges@sodexo.com 

Sodexo, Inc., a leader in delivering sustainable, integrated facilities management and foodservice operations (PRNewsfoto/Sodexo)

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