I recently entered (and won!!! AHHHHHHH（*/∇＼*）ｷｬ ) Idea Factory International’s gingerbread house contest, and I wanted to show off more pictures I took than the ones I submitted. It’s mostly progress pictures, but I put a lot of effort into it, so I thought I’d show off how I did it.
In the end, it’s mostly that I am overly ambitious, especially when there’s a deadline coming up. I’m pretty sure I saw the contest announcement and then decided “I can totally make an in-theme, somewhat historically accurate, and completely edible gingerbread house by next week!” And I did but I don’t think I’d suggest it to anyone else haha.
I first sketched out what I wanted my gingerbread house to look like – I remembered the CG of Chizuru with Saitou at Ezo, staring at snow falling, and another from the side story with the snow bunny. That’s the theme I was going for. The house itself is modeled after machiya, traditional Japanese townhouses. The internet tells me that the “modern” style of machiya was established in the Edo era, which is what I was going for with the period that Hakuoki takes place in. This makes it totally historically accurate, right?
After the sketch, I made a cardboard mockup and ensured everything was the right proportions for the chibi figure I have. Then, it was a matter of baking the pieces! The recipe I used came from Rock Recipes, and there are way better instructions on making a gingerbread house over there as well.
I also baked all the roof tiles out of yatsuhashi. My original intention was to match the curved roof tiles as seen on actual machiya, but 1cm x 1cm tiles are both extremely difficult to form and puffed up way more than expected when I baked them. Then the tedious task of gluing all the yatsuhashi tiles to my roof began… I also filled my windows and doors with candy.
While waiting for everything to dry, I reassembled my cardboard mockup and tested out the lights. Since the light comes straight from the bottom, I actually lined the interior of my gingerbread house with aluminum foil, so it could reflect better.
There is also the matter of the chocolate tree… The tree is one of the few non-edible components of this gingerbread house. It is made of grape stems tied together and then dipped in chocolate. I didn’t bother tempering the chocolate since it was just a tree and would be covered in icing and icing sugar later, and the look of untempered chocolate would work well for tree bark, but… Untempered chocolate takes forever to set, and doesn’t even set properly, which caused me problems since I had tied three or four grape stems together loosely and was counting on the chocolate to bind it all together. It did not work so you’ll probably see in later pictures that there is a rather large and unrealistic clumping of snow in the crook of the tree. It’s there to hold it together, haa.
Anyway, once the candy window and door was cooled (aka the next morning), I piped the lattice work onto the candy and let that dry as well. I did it without referencing what I drew on my sketch so it ended up being not exactly what I wanted, but it still looked good in the end! You can really see my super shaky piping work in this though, haha. It was actually really hard piping such fine lines!
I also made the gelatin plastic which would be my noren. After it dried, I cut the gelatin plastic to shape and wrote 薄桜鬼 (Hakuoki) on it with an edible silver paint brush. The brush was not fine enough so in the end you couldn’t really see it… I also painted the mountains of the shinsengumi uniform onto the two bordering curtains. Although the uniform is supposed to have mountains coming from the bottom, I thought it would look better from the sides to be a more effective border, and it also looks similar to how the sleeves look when actually worn.
Once that was all done, I then assembled the gingerbread house. My original plan was to use caramel for stronger and less obvious house “seams” but my cookie pieces warped a little during the baking process, though not enough for me to have trimmed them back into shape, so I used royal icing (the trusty glue of most gingerbread houses!) and tinted it brown. I used the icing to attach everything to the house, as well as the tree to the board… The tree needed a lot of help to stay up and stay together and I am still bitter at how much extra effort it took to make it work (´。＿。｀) haa…
Anyway, once everything was in the right spot, I piped a bunch of royal icing “snow” onto the board. You might see in my original sketch that I intended to have a stone pathway, but that got cut when I didn’t have enough space left on my board haha. The royal icing snow got a sprinkling of silver sanding sugar so it’d sparkle like real snow, though it really doesn’t come across in the pictures.
While I waited for everything to set, I made the dango rabbit. Its ears are also made of royal icing that I piped at then let set on top of a chopstick for a curved shape. I tried rolling it in icing sugar to get it to look “fluffier” but it didn’t quite work as planned… Anyway, the eyes were done by dipping a toothpick into red food colouring, and the ears attached with more royal icing.
Once everything was set and in place, the tree still was not cooperating so I piped some more icing it to hold it together. Then I dusted it with icing sugar, turned on the light, put Saitou in his new home, and took pictures for submission.
I don’t know if I really enjoyed the experience of making this gingerbread house. It wasn’t hard, necessarily, since I’m an avid baker and was in the middle of my annual Christmas cookie baking session anyway, but it certainly was frustrating. I did like learning about gelatin plastic though – it’s a technique that I’ll be using in another (overly ambitious) baking project I have planned! I also learned a bunch about making gingerbread houses, since it’s the first one I’ve made in recent memory, and potentially ever since I don’t actually know if I’ve made one before… Plus making almost everything edible was also pretty interesting! For reference, the only things you can’t eat are the board, the light, the tree (although you could lick it), and you’d have to strip the aluminum foil off the interior of the house itself, haha.
Anyway, I am quite proud of my gingerbread machiya in the end, and I’m glad that other people seemed to like it too!! Honestly, I was shocked that I won. I thought my gingerbread house was pretty good, but I am not really one to have a lot of faith in me winning contests, haha. But I’m just happy that I represented the western otome fandom! I was the only otome entrant, while Idea Factory International brought over Amnesia and is bringing over Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds soon, so it was a little sad to see the lack of otome representation in the entrants!! I will admit, it was a difficult contest to enter…But hey, I did it! +｡:.ﾟヽ(´∀`｡)ﾉﾟ.:｡+