Calgary retiree takes her gingerbread-making skills to the next level
Gingerbread cookies, candy canes, waffle cones, and pretzels.
Those are just some of the delicious ingredients retiree Lynn McKeown meshes together to make her spectacular and almost fully edible gingerbread houses.
“I retired a couple of years ago and one of the things on my list of things to do in retirement was to make a gingerbread house every year,” McKeown says, adding she gets inspiration online.
Last year, she made a gingerbread church with stained glass windows and a nativity scene outside the church doors. This year, she meticulously crafted a North Pole train station with tracks and a train.
“I wouldn’t say I’m a big train fan, although I have a bunch of trains around my house and around my Christmas tree. But I would say I’m just a big Christmas person,” McKeown says.
Almost entirely edible
Except for the board it sits on and the lights, the entire gingerbread house is edible.
“I have my favourite gingerbread recipe, so the majority of it is gingerbread, and then the trees are waffle cones and sugar cones. Then I put pretzels in there and the roofs of the train are licorice,” she explains.
The heart on the top of the house is made out of candy canes and Life Savers.
“I have a pinwheel with mint candies and then I filled the train with Laura Secord chocolates, which are the ones that are wrapped like presents, and the chocolate balls. Then I have the licorice allsorts and that’s kind of for my dad, who was a big licorice allsorts fan.”
McKeown started crafting the gingerbread house in mid-November, first building a cardboard template and then curating the rest.
How long did it take?
“They took 100 hours. Each,” she laughs.
It’s kind of like decorating a cake
McKeown isn’t an avid baker, though she did have some background in cake decorating.
“The only thing [in] my background is that I have a book of about 400 cakes. When my boys were growing up, I loved to decorate cakes for birthdays and those types of things,” she explains, adding she had no formal training and it was just a hobby.
Last year’s gingerbread church was entered into a contest and made it until March before it fell apart.
“I was showing someone and I went to turn the rotating table it was on and the entire roof fell off,” she laughs.
She already has ambitious plans for next year’s gingerbread creation, but she’s not willing to share that quite yet.
“It’s a secret,” McKeown adds.
“It’s going to be interesting.”