Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

December 5, 2012

Country club chefs create 8-foot-tall gingerbread house

Confection contains flour, butter and love for families and children in Bellefonte

BELLEFONTE — Following her Wednesday matinee performance in “A Christmas Carol,” 8-year-old Sophie Hester savored lunch at Bellefonte Country Club.

A handmade, 8-foot-tall gingerbread house made the meal especially memorable for the youngster.

“Wow! It’s just amazing!” she said.

Executive chef Nemat Odeh and head pastry chef Melissa Adkins worked for a month on the the holiday home. Ron Fields, 61, a recentlyelected Flatwoods City Council member, built the wooden framework of the sugary structure along with the pint-size table and chairs inside.

Adkins said it thrilled her to watch club members enjoying the baking team’s hard work — and there was plenty of it.

Old-fashioned peppermint Christmas treats stick with Royal Icing like glue. Candy canes swirl along the casing as licorice whips whisk the walls. Holly and ivy, freshly-cut from the golf course, decks the halls. Red and green spiced gumdrops, gingerbread men and candied poinsettias set the surface scene.

Two stuffed teddy bears enjoy marshmallow-topped hot cocoa at a tiny table and chairs inside the holiday habitat. Colorful lights illuminate the candy-land party.

Odeh — who built a life-size gingerbread house when he worked at the Plaza Hotel in New York — admitted the project was a major undertaking. He and Adkins baked six days a week after hours, usually not finishing up until well after midnight.

“We did this for the families and kids,” he said. “It makes this restaurant area so much more festive. They come in here and really begin to feel the joy of the holidays.”

It took 10 batches of gingerbread — equating to 270 cups of flour, 20 pounds of butter, 50 cups of brown sugar, 60 cups of corn syrup, and a super-heaping tablespoon of ground ginger and cinnamon — to create the house.

Snowy icing — constructed of egg whites, cream of tartar and powdered sugar — solidifies and strengthens to hold the decorative candies and looks like icicles hanging from the eave troughs.

Adkins said she hoped to share her baking skills with children, and even taught 17 youngsters how to craft gingerbread houses at a recent class. Sydney Little, 13, was one of them.

“It was so fun learning to make gingerbread houses,” she said. “She (Adkins) taught us how to put them together, and we even learned to make icicles out of icing. That was the best part.”

The two chefs said they’re eagerly anticipating the gingerbread house grand presentation at the club’s annual Santa Brunch on Sunday.

“I just can’t wait to see the looks on the children’s faces. It will make all the work so worth it,” Adkins said.

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