6-Foot-Tall Gingerbread Returns 'Bigger,' 'Better'

We may be used to the snow collecting on our roofs now, but the Holiday Inn Hotel in Stevens Point is getting used to being greeted by a sugar-coated roof on a 6-foot gingerbread house.

It's the second year the hotel put this house together, even though this holiday symbol and recipe has been around for hundreds of years, the crew that put the Stevens Point together is proud since this this year's is bigger and better than last years.

Hop on the Christmas train, you can't deny the holidays are here, especially if you come across the frosted 6-foot-tall gingerbread house.

"We made what is called 'royal icing,'" Stevens Point Holiday Inn Executive Chef Albert Schlaepfer said. "That's all the sugar made of egg whites and powdered sugar."

The "royal icing" is hard enough to crack your tooth once it's set, that may be the secret to making the perfect sturdy gingerbread house.

"Once you let it sit, it gets really hard," Schlaepfer said. "It (the icing) will hold the little pieces together so you don't have to use glue."

Schlaepfer said he worked on last year's house, which was the first time the hotel did anything like it for the holidays.

"One of the hardest parts was moving it (the gingerbread house) from where it was originally made into here," Holiday Inn Sales and Marketing Director Michelle Sedlek said. "It's 550 lbs, maybe a little more."

Inside the doors is a wood and Styrofoam frame, but the outside is crafted of:

52 lbs of butter
5 gallons of corn syrup
48 lbs of brown sugar
165 pounds of flour
102 pounds of confectioners sugar
305 egg whites
10 pounds of crushed candy canes
63 whole candy canes
1,247 pieces of candy

"We were just able to cut the tiles and put it together like a puzzle," Schlaepfer said.

Last year's house was 4-feet-tall, with whole slabs of gingerbread forming the walls.

This year, they made custom gingerbread bricks that are airbrushed perfectly to look like real stones, like on the chimney.

"They (The crew who assembled the house) didn't have a kit for this," Sedlek said. "They did it on their own. Each individual brick is one piece."

You sure don't need a kit for Christmas cheer, just some expertise, a couple thousand dollars and a lot of help from a staff.

Sedlak said she decided to bring the house back for families to enjoy, and to them, the sugar home provides memories sweeter than any Christmas toy.

"This year it'll be bigger and better, and it certainly did get bigger and better," Sedlek said. "But next year I don't know how much bigger we can go."

If you want to visit the gingerbread house, it is located at: 1001 Amber Ave, Stevens Point, WI 54482 at the Holiday Inn. Sedlek said it is free, the doors are always open, but the best times to visit are from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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