When brainstorming what to make for gingerbread season, it seemed quite intuitive to make a place that I loved visiting especially during the holidays. There are certain places in the city that feel extra festive during the holidays. The obvious ones would be Christmas Train in Stanley Park, Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden, and the Vancouver Christmas Market, which I’ve already checked off my list this year! But one of favourite not-as-conventional holiday visits would be my Williams Sonoma store. I go in to get even more into the holiday spirit, and leave with all the holiday cookie cutters, snowman marshmallows, and hot chocolate mix (in my opinion, Williams Sonoma makes the best hot chocolate mix). Oh and of course, peppermint bark. It only made sense to make Williams Sonoma, one of my favourite places during the holidays, out of gingerbread. I chose to make the Post Street store in San Francisco because it has been way too long since my last trip to San Francisco and I miss the city so much.
This gingerbread storefront is the first time I’ve modelled my gingerbread structure after an existing building. The first step was finding a photo of the store that shows off all the details of the storefront. Then, I sketched out the store, making sure all the details are proportional to the ones in the photo. For some of the repeating features like windows, I cut out the shape from a piece of cardstock which I then used as a stencil for the gingerbread house. There are two key things to making a successful gingerbread structure: a sturdy gingerbread recipe (I love this one from Food52) and very good quality baking sheet. I have quite a few baking sheets of different sizes but for making gingerbread pieces, I love using my Williams Sonoma Goldtouch® Pro sheet pan because unlike some thinner baking sheets, this one doesn’t warp in the oven. Using a good quality baking sheet means each of the gingerbread pieces bakes flat and evenly.
After baking the gingerbread pieces comes the fun part: decorating. I use royal icing for outlining the details, festive sprinkles for some holiday accents, and what I think is a signature feature of all my gingerbread houses — gelatin sheets for windows. I recommend doing all the decorating before assembling because it’s much easier decorating on a flat service. Allow all the decorations to dry before assembling. During the assembly process, I find it very helpful to have some tall glasses and cans to help prop up certain pieces as the royal icing hardens. After assembling the house, make sure you allow a couple of hours for it dry, preferably overnight, before moving it. Add final festive touches like mini Christmas trees and fairy lights and your festive centrepiece is ready to impress anyone that sees it and make the whole room smells like gingerbread all season long.