Each year, the White House Pastry Team comes together with other members of the White House staff to work on a favorite holiday tradition: The White House Gingerbread House. Because this project requires so much space, the gingerbread house is usually assembled in the China Room of the Residence instead of the pastry shop. Everyone from White House carpenters to plumbers to electricians lend their expertise to help make this project a success.
Weeks were spent planning out the details, studying James Hoban’s original architectural designs and blueprints, gathering ingredients and creating a time line.
And then the real work begins. More than 150 pounds of gingerbread dough is made and this year the recipe called for White House Honey! After baking the gingerbread, it is cut into pieces that become the house’s foundation. The gingerbread is so thick that a band-saw is used to create the bricks for the gingerbread replica. More than 250 lbs of white chocolate is then used for everything from the adhesive to the decorative elements. The white chocolate provides the flexibility needed to create details like the rosettes and the banisters, the windows and the wreaths.
This year we have two special features.
The first is a shadow box view of the State Dining Room – the room that the completed gingerbread house sits in throughout the holiday season for visitors to view. This shadow box even includes the famous painting of President Lincoln by George PA Healy that hangs over the fireplace. This room is where you’ll find the only inedible parts of the gingerbread house – the light fixtures!
We also include the new White House Kitchen Garden and our favorite four-pawed friend, Bo. Both are made out of marzipan. In the garden, you’ll find baskets of carrots, eggplants and cabbage as well as other seasonal vegetables.
We have such a great time planning, baking and decorating, but each year the best part is always seeing the reactions of visitors from across the country when they first see our gingerbread house on their tour of the actual White House.
We hope that you’ll enjoy this video of our gingerbread house as much as we enjoyed making it.
Happy holidays and best wishes for a sweet start to the New Year!
Bill Yosses is the White House Executive Pastry Chef