(Image credit: Garden Melodies via Inhabitat)
‘Tis the season for recreating our homes and favorite buildings out of dough. Even though no one has put baked panel to icing and build the Gilmore Girls home in Stars Hollow out of crispy gingerbread or frosty fondant (yet), these landmarks both real and fictional have us whispering, “I smell snow.”
For design fans, last year’s Great Architectural Bake Off left a lot to be desired in the way of stunning confectionary replicas, so we rounded up a plethora of cake and gingerbread buildings created (mostly) by actual pastry chefs for to fuel your festive, creative visions — from iconic spires dripping with icicles to MCM style.
Of course, creating the White House out of gingerbread is a time-honored tradition dating back to the 1960s. To some, the stark tone of this year’s design feels more Handmaid’s Tale than happy holidays, but fear not: we found these other confec-tural masterpieces to provide all the warm, cheery, escapist vibes you might need to really get into the holiday spirit.
(Image credit: Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Apparently it’s tradition for royal couples to have a cake made in the image of the family estate (get ready, Meghan Markle!), and this stunning rendition was on view in an April 2011 exhibition of Royal Wedding cakes at Wellington Arch in Hyde Park, London called ‘Let Them Eat Cake’.
Harvard’s Memorial Hall
The secular Victorian high gothic cathedral, built in memoriam of Union student-soldiers, is best known to Bostonians around the holidays for its annual Christmas Revels celebrations — and this cake created by Oakleaf Cakes for the university’s 2012 graduation ceremony is a stunning likeness, covered in powdered snow or not.
(Image credit: via U.K. National Trust)
The famed Renaissance chateau in the English countryside is one of the British National Trust’s most-visited public properties — and frequently stands in for Buckingham Palace on film and the small screen. This 6-foot tall, dollhouse-like replica took London’s Biscuiteers bake shop over 500 hours to craft in 2016 and nearly a year to plan before that.
Downton Abbey aka Highclere Castle
British cookie artist Curtis Jensen is known for sharing his fantastical annual confections (along with their time-lapse creation) on YouTube, and this 2012 rendering of the now-iconic Grantham Family home is just a delight. Jensen has also tackled Brussels Town Hall, the Notre Dame Cathedral, and most recently, Linderhof Palace in the Bavarian Alps, once home to “Mad King Ludwig.”
The Smithsonian Castle
A fairytale mansion in gingerbread this side of the pond, this 2009 holiday creation by Four Seasons Hotel DC executive pastry chef Charles Froke took more than 100 hours, 50 pounds of gingerbread, and 100 pounds of icing to assemble, according to Smithsonian.com.
(Image credit: Garden Melodies via Inhabitat)
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater
Probably the most popular architectural landmark ever created in gingerbread, “Christmas at Falling Water” by culinary artist Melodie Dearden (who also studied Landscape Management) was built in 2010 and shared on her blog, Garden Melodies — where aspirational holiday bakers can also find step-by-step instructions, plans, recipes, and lists of materials used. Including 40 sleeves of Smartie’s candies for Frank Lloyd Wright’s brickwork.
Prospect Park Boathouse
Created in 2012 by Hudson Cakery to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Audubon Center by the Prospect Park Alliance, this cake version of Brooklyn’s first historic landmark and Beaux Arts boathouse (built in 1905) has all the natural green, red, and white holiday cheer of a greeting card, but without a single additional decoration.
Crafted in 2007 by pastry chef Ron Ben-Israel to commemorate the 100th birthday of the Plaza Hotel — using original blueprints and interviews with the building’s restorers, according to 6sqft — this cake stood 12 feet tall. Perhaps you can get room service to bring materials to you for a smaller version while taking advantage of the hotel’s seasonal Home Alone package.
St. Basil’s Cathedral
Featured on Cake Boss Season 6 in the 2013 episode “From Russia With Cake”, Buddy and his proved up to the challenge of recreating the iconic Moscow landmark — equal, a tie or possibly even second place, to this gingerbread St. Basil’s crafted by pastry chef Troman Felixmanio in 2009 for the Ritz Carlton Moscow.
Canals of Amsterdam
Many have tried, but none have so successfully and brilliantly captured the match of Holland at the holidays quite like Spanish pastry chef and blogger Rocio Cuenca of Little Wonderland. The precision in execution (Christmas lights! Real flickering LED candles in the windows!) is what brings this dreamy scene to life.
(Image credit: Duchess Bake Shop)
Notre Dame Cathedral
Crafted with love for the holiday window at a Canadian bakery in Edmonton, Alberta, the meticulously detailed gingerbread reproduction of the Notre Dame d’Epices cathedral in Paris is a work of art. Duchess Bake Shop owner Garner Beggs told the CBC that the gingerbread house took his team “around 300 man hours…about 50 kilos of gingerbread, give or take…and a lot of royal icing.”
(Image credit: Martha Stewart Living)
San Francisco Ferry Building
Pastry chef Angela Salvatore crafted this remarkably detailed 6-foot-long baked behemoth in 2016 for her restaurant’s annual holiday display. Salvatore told Martha Stewart that it took her team close to 130 hours to complete in detail, including all the fun and features of the weekly Ferry Building farmer’s market that they frequent.
(Image credit: Windows Catering Company)
The U.S. Capitol and Pentagon
Handcrafted for a Beltway holiday gala in 2012 by Windows Catering Company, these gingerbread landmarks were featured as centerpieces on an array of bipartisan buffets — including over 80 pounds of candy detailing alone.
(Image credit: Louise Siuol)
As Nerdist said, “Expecto Deliciosum.” Redditor Louise Siuol shared her gingerbread house competition (and Harry Potter fan) prowess with this delightfully decorated 2015 creation — an absolute sail through kitchen wizarding school, or as one commenter said: “My stomach is J.K Growling right now.”
(Image credit: Molli Dowd via Good Housekeeping)
West Village Townhouse
Young mother Molli Dowd pulled off a true fairytale of New York when she created this dreamy Manhattan Christmas scene for a gingerbread house competition in 2014. Inspired by the historic townhomes in her West Village neighborhood, Dowd told Good Housekeeping that she used chiclets for the roof tiles, uncooked linguine noodles for the window trim, and popcorn for the trees.
(Image credit: The Biltmore Company)
George W. Vanderbilt was a huge fan of Christmas, famously debuting Biltmore House, his new 250-room mansion in 1895 in Asheville, North Carolina for a holiday party for friends and family. The 8,000-acre estate still welcomes visitors each year, who flock to see the 35-foot-tall Fraser Fir tree in the banquet hall and gingerbread displays in the kitchen of Biltmore House and The Inn on Biltmore Estate. This 2015 “stonework” creation of the American architectural treasure in gingerbread measured six feet long.
The Painted Ladies and Golden Gate Bridge
Each year, the Palace Hotel in San Francisco hosts its own gingerbread house competition, and these two iconic local landmarks were a tie in 2012 for good reason. Depicting the “Painted Ladies” of Alamo Square and the Golden Gate Bridge, they’re a colorful and wonderfully detailed celebration of Christmas in California.
If you happen to be in the Asheville, North Carolina area over the holidays, the 25th annual celebration of the National Gingerbread House Competition is on display at the Omni Grove Park Inn now through January 4, 2018. There’s also a life-sized gingerbread house on display in the main lobby of the Grand Floridian Hotel at Walt Disney World, a tradition for the theme park in its 19th year running.