You’d think a house made of pastry bricks and frosting mortar might not pass even the most cursory building inspection.
Yet that hasn’t discouraged the bakers at Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain from building their annual dine-in gingerbread house. It’s available Dec. 2-27 in the lobby of the Marana resort.
What guests don’t see are the plywood and beams that transform gingerbread into a load-bearing baked good.
Since 2014, Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain staff have baked and built the house for the holidays, allowing diners to enjoy a rich scent of gingerbread as they enjoy meals ordered from the resort’s restaurants. The house has been featured in many Facebook and Instagram posts, since the ability to eat inside a gingerbread house is typically limited to dolls and action figures.
This season’s home will for the first time feature a desert garden with a signature saguaro, all made of gingerbread.
Each year, work on the house begins in October when the pastry staff mixes and bakes dozens of gingerbread sheets, which are cut into evenly sized bricks.
The recipe calls for 350 pounds of flour, 856 pounds of sugar, 400 pounds of honey, 100 pounds of ginger powder and 350 eggs.
Once the plywood frame of the house is erected, workers attach bricks with sugary mortar, adding such architectural details as candy canes and spice drops.
Bakers use food-grade gingerbread to build the house — younger guests may not be able to resist the urge to go Hansel-and-Gretel on the sugary façade, after all — but the pastry hardly makes the grade taste-wise. It’s baked for durability rather than deliciousness.
With a peaked roof about 20 feet high, the house holds a dining table big enough to seat six, as well as lots of seasonal charm.
Should anyone be in the mood to eat gingerbread, cookies are provided with a reminder that it’s a dine-in, not dine-on, house.
And once the fireplace is cranked up, it’s less a gingerbread house and more a gingerbread home.
Details: Reservations cost $200-$250, depending on time and day, plus the cost of the meal and tips. To reserve, call 520-572-3401. Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, 15000 N. Secret Springs Drive, Marana. www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/arizona/dove-mountain.
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