Gingerbread House Decorating Contest: our winners announced!

RESIZED1217_Standout Execution_Anna Sarpieri_Gingerbread 'Goodies Bakery'

A quintessential sign of the holidays, resplendent of sugar and spice and everything nice: gingerbread houses.

As bakers, we’ve been in love with gingerbread houses for years. We’ve written blogs, sponsored a local gingerbread house show, and of course taught gingerbread house classes to generations. What would our next step be?

This year we decided to host a gingerbread house contest and frankly, my dear, we were stunned by the beauty, creativity, humor, and sheer talent of the entries. We ooohed, we aaaahed, we aaawwed, and we sat silent, just trying to take it all in. Thank you, sincerely thank you to everyone who entered; this was an incredible event of which to be a part.

Contest judges included King Arthur employee-owners Wilhelm Wanders, a member of our King Arthur Flour Bakery team (and 9th generation German pastry chef); Brook Stewart (center), visual merchandiser on our product development team and designer of many of our cookie cutters; and MaryJane Robbins (right), blogger and cookie decorator extraordinaire.

And what a job we all had! But finally, after much deliberation, we identified the following contest winners, pictured below. Each category winner will receive a $50 gift card; a King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion cookbook; and a personalized cookie from the King Arthur Flour Bakery. Honorable mention winners receive a $20 King Arthur Flour gift card.

For each of our five categories, we chose one overall winner and three other entries for honorable mention. In this case, honorable mention really meant to us that we were honoring the incredible hard work, dedication, and talent of the artist, and we are honored to share their work with others.

Without further ado, we are pleased to present our winners.

STANDOUT EXECUTION – FIRST PLACE:

Bayside Cemetery Gatehouse as Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.  Artist: Rebecca W.

Rebecca’s architectural background is evident in this edible work of art. The free-standing dragon with piping details kept us coming back for more as we discovered new details each time we looked.

HONORABLE MENTION: Gingerbread Village.  Artist: Carrie T.

We were enchanted with the detail of the houses, and who could resist the teeny tiny cakes and breads? A “pecan” coated carrot cake? Swoon!

HONORABLE MENTION: Christmas Covered Bridge. Artist: Katrina M.

A winter wonderland with a  touch of New England charm. Just lovely.

HONORABLE MENTION:  Cuckoo for Christmas.  Artist: Barb A.

Barb’s submissions were truly incredible. We felt this timeless gingerbread structure was just delightful!

MOST CREATIVE – WINNER:

The Great Gluten-Free Gingerbread Barn Breakout!  Artist: Cathy R.

Yes, gluten-free fans, this whole gingerbread scene from structure to reindeer to trees is gluten free.  Those naughty GF reindeer were in the gardens, popping out of haystacks, and even swimming in an edible pond. Bravo, Cathy, for your humorous details; you had us in stitches.

HONORABLE MENTION:  A Roman Villa: A gingerbread toga party.  Artist: Jill A.

These wacky toga-clad gingerbread folks really know how to throw a bash in their gingerbread villa, complete with pool. Party on, little dudes!

HONORABLE MENTION: Rapunzel’s Christmas Tower. Artist: Noreen K.

When a princess’ hair can flow down three stories of a handmade gingerbread tower, call us impressed.

HONORABLE MENTION: Kringle’s Christmas Store.  Artist: Susan L.

Our German-born judge, Chef Wilhelm, really loved the truck in this entry. In Germany, the Coca Cola trucks really do get decorated with colored lights for the holiday season, and are quite a sight to behold.

KIDS 10 AND UNDER – WINNER:  The Great Wall of China; my dream of the place I most want to visit. Artist Emi H.

What can we say, Emi? The pictures of you creating this masterpiece (including your bag of KAF flour) and your ambition really made our day. Now, are those trees made of broccoli? Great idea!

HONORABLE MENTION: Lighthouse. Artists: Anna and Jacob B.

Keep smiling, guys, we think you’ve got a great future in the kitchen!


HONORABLE MENTION:  The Christmas Cottage. Artist: Maggie Colleen C.

The bright border and fun patterned roof really caught our attention. Well done, Maggie!

HONORABLE MENTION: Colonial Conservation. Artist: Nicholas K.

How do you update a Colonial-style gingerbread house? If you’re our earth-friendly fan Nick, you add insulation and cookie solar panels to your house. Sweeet!

LANDMARK WINNER: St. Albans (VT) City Hall. Artist: Yvonne E.

Each time we looked, the brickwork and details just popped on this historic hall. MJ and Brook were especially impressed with the turrets and recessed doorway.

HONORABLE MENTION: The Nubble Lighthouse.  Artist: Cheryl B.

Contest judge and fan of York, ME, MaryJane recognized this lighthouse right off the bat from childhood vacations by the sea. We were also impressed with the attention to scale; it’s spot on.

HONORABLE MENTION: The Halfway House. Artist: Sydney H.

Mullioned windows and five chimney pots, plus razor-straight siding make for one outstanding structure. Kudos, Sydney, we were enchanted.

HONORABLE MENTION: Heirloom Café and Fresh Market in Athens, GA.  Artists: Teri M-T and Caroline K.

What do the pastry chef and her assistant from this café do in their spare time? Why, they create an edible version of their workplace!

FUN/HUMOROUS – WINNER: The Griswolds. Artist: Diane F.

It was hard to choose winners in this category, we were laughing so much. We were amazed at the humor the entrants conveyed with simple foodstuffs.

Diane’s lightbulb-covered house and other details from the famous movie got us right in the funny bone.

HONORABLE MENTION: Santa Forgot His Toys. Artist: Jennifer H.

Poor Mrs. Claus and her elf try to catch Santa before it’s too late! Ah, haven’t we all been there?

HONORABLE MENTION: Frosty the Snowman Village. Artist: Lorrie B.

Lorrie, how’d you like to make a life-sized version? We want to play, too!

HONORABLE MENTION: North Pole Fire Academy. Artist: Kathleen C.

Is it safety first, or funny first? Either way, we were in love from the start. Pole-sliding practice at the North Pole? Har, har, har!

JUDGE’S PICK: Chef Wilhelm

Gingerbread “Goodies Bakery.” Artist: Anna S.

“Warm” and “comforting” were words Wilhelm used to describe this entry. It made us all think of the classic gingerbread house; we’re so pleased Anna honored us with this entry.

JUDGE’S PICK: KA blogger MaryJane.

Festival of Trees. Artist Kathy B.

Crisp piping, tiny details, and a flock of festive trees caught MJ’s attention from the start. “Thanks for making me smile over and over again, Kathy!” says MJ.

JUDGE’S PICK: Creative guru Brook.

97th and Lex Gingerbread 2012. Artist: Laurie G.

World-traveler Brook was enchanted with this slice of urban greatness in the midst of country cottages. Great brickwork and the glow in the windows really sang out.

MOST PINNED ON PINTEREST: The Gingerbread Snowglobe. Artist: Michelle M.

Amazing detail and dramatic presentation, this proved to be a true crowd pleaser. Wonderful work, Michelle!

Thank you, one and all, for participating in this enjoyable contest. We hope you all had as much fun making these houses as we did seeing the photos!

Amy Trage
About

Amy Trage is a native of Vermont where she spent much of her childhood skiing and training for the equestrian event circuit. With a strong desire to pursue food writing, Amy took her English degree from Saint Anselm College to the New England Culinary Institute ...

comments

  1. "Momo "

    Kudos to the bakers tall who created these masterpieces. They are all a joy to behold. Many are just stunning in their perfection.
    Aren’t they all just so inspiring? I keep thinking I need to make one of each style. So much gingerbread, so little time! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  2. Amy G.

    I am not trying to be a sore loser here, but I am confused. I made my very first gingerbread house last month and entered it into your contest, following the rules you posted: “All gingerbread houses *must be made of 100% edible materials*. The use of any craft or construction material will result in disqualification.” (The asterisks denote your own boldface type; this was obviously an important point!) Yet, two of your Honorable Mentions use lightbulbs, and the most pinned one’s entire point seems to be that it is inside a glass (like a snowglobe, I assume)! One of the Honorable Mentions is described positively by one of your judges as “warm” — well, of *course* it looks warm, with a yellow lightbulb radiating out from the windows! Just so I understand the rules in case I enter again next year, do lightbulbs and glasses count as “100% edible materials,” or are they exempt for some other reason known only to longtime gingerbread house bakers?
    Hi Amy,
    Thanks for your questions.
    Yes, some entries used presentation materials that were not edible, like cake stands, or glass plates. There was quite a discussion throughout the judging on the use of glass, lights, etc. and more than one entry had to leave our short list when we felt it strayed too far over that line.

    We did not take those parts into account when judging, we solely looked at the houses or structures themselves. For example, the gingerbread structures inside the globe were our focus, not the glass itself. However, the public decided they loved that option and thus the “most pinned” award.

    Ditto for Judge Wilhelm’s pick. As a European baker, he appreciated the piped work on the house, and the overall classic look of gingerbread, not fondant etc.

    I hope this helps clarify our judges’ positions. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  3. Amy G.

    One more problem: you awarded Cathy R., with her gluten-free barn breakout entry, for Most Creative. But looking on the Pinterest board of entries…she entered herself for “Fun/Humorous.” I don’t understand how she could have won in a category she didn’t enter!

    This particular baker was a first time contest entrant . She entered originally under the Most Creative category, but then sent an email and asked later to have her category changed. From what I gather from conversations with our contest coordinator, she was a little shy about thinking she might “belong” in Most Creative. This was all presented to the judges before we made our choices and it was solely our decision to keep her in the original category that we felt fit the piece best.

    We do apologize for any confusion. No cloak and dagger is involved in our judging, just three good folks, a pot of coffee and hundreds of gorgeous entries that we are grateful to have had the opportunity to see.
    ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  4. sjakers

    These are beautiful and silly and fun and imaginative. I love them all. Thank you so much for sharing them. And congrats to all the winners and honorable mentions. Kudos to everyone who entered whether they won or not. Great work and lots of fun. Thank you all!! You made me smile and that made my day.

    Reply
  5. k.g.mom

    My family makes gingerbread houses every year. Not contest worthy, but we have loads of fun and create wonderful memories. And I love having the wonderful smelling houses around for the holiday season!

    Reply
  6. "daisy in nj"

    Congratulations, all! Everyone that bakes is a winner!

    Thanks so much for truly impressive work that I just had to share with others…who were also amazed.

    Happy New Year and Happy Baking.
    Daisy, I could not agree more! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  7. Swathi

    Beautiful, it will be really hard of judges to select the winners.
    Yes, it is a hard job. Luckily, we are a good team and we communicate well. Plus, no sharp objects allowed in the room. ;) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  8. lucyprice

    You probably don’t need one more comment but i want to say thankyou. i have had the best time on my afternoon break, just looking at the wonderful pictures. Each and every person is a true winner. I am so thankful that this warm and charming ART is being continued in our fast paced and sometimes shallow world. this post just restored my happiness in this New Year when there seems to be plenty of problems. I think i will come back here whenever i need to pause and pray and dwell on the glorious joy i feel when i see how many people of all ages and abilities are giving their all to creating a temporal vision of serendipitous glory. Happy New Year and thank you again for taking up so much space to share this with all of us. I greatly appreciate being transported to a happy place!
    Thank you so much for coming to our site. We are so so pleased to hear that both contributors and content have brought a little peace and joy to your life! Thank you for your feedback as we really enjoy hearing from our customers each and every day! Elisabeth

    Reply
  9. patti-cake

    I want to thank the people at King Arthur Flour for holding the gingerbread house contest this year. It was a fabulous idea and I hope you will consider doing it again next year. As some others have mentioned, it was a source of enjoyment and joy to look at the creativity of the houses entered each day. This was the first time my entire family worked to create a gingerbread house. It created lots of laughter in our house and we are looking forward to next years challenge!
    Contest or no, I hope your family makes a yearly gingerbread house tradition part of the holidays. You aren’t just making a house, you’re making memories that will last a lifetime. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  10. ssbt

    These are amazing! Thank you KAF for holding the contest, and thank you to the entrants for sharing your creativity and talent. Inspiring! I may take up gingerbread art next holiday season…

    Reply
  11. AZ93

    Thank you three for taking on such a wonderful project and inspiring so many of us to be extra creative around the holidays! I missed this contest this time around, but already have a GREAT idea for next year and can’t wait to enter it. See you then and thanks again to all of you at kaf, and the wonderful entries that were so much fun to see!

    Reply
  12. premiersh

    Thank you three for taking on such a wonderful project and inspiring so many of us to be extra creative around the holidays! I missed this contest this time around, but already have a GREAT idea for next year and can’t wait to enter it. See you then and thanks again to all of you at kaf, and the wonderful entries that were so much fun to see!

    Reply
  13. pakistan idol

    These are amazing! Thank you KAF for holding the contest, and thank you to the entrants for sharing your creativity and talent. Inspiring! I may take up gingerbread art next holiday season

    Reply

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