A tried-and-true holiday tradition is building a gingerbread house, and then wreaking havoc on the tiny abode to satisfy your sweet tooth. Whether in the form of a simple home or an elaborate mansion, we’re betting you will at least consider indulging in the holiday tradition.
With the winter holidays around the corner, the Movoto Real Estate team decided to tackle a question that’s been floating around the office for a few weeks. How much gingerbread would it take to build a real-life gingerbread house?
Last week, we pulled our team together and figured it out. It would take approximately 9,608 “batches” of gingerbread to build a typical 2,500-square-foot American home. In this case, a batch refers to the amount of gingerbread made from this delicious Food Network recipe.
To help put this number in perspective, you can think of it this way: A single batch is enough to build a modest gingerbread house at your kitchen table. (Now you’re starting to understand.)
In fact, if a courageous confectionist were to attempt to construct a 2,500-square-foot gingerbread house, he would surpass Guinness World Record holder Roger Pelcher, who in 2006 built about a 1,500-square-foot gingerbread house.
So, it would take a heck of a lot of gingerbread.
If you’re serious about this Herculean feat, continue on for a breakdown of the specifics.
I Need How Much Gingerbread?
To drive the point home (pun intended) of how much gingerbread it would take to build this house, we pulled together a list of ingredients you will need to truck into your kitchen. To create a real-live gingerbread house, you will need:
- Butter: 4,803 cups
- Brown sugar: 4,803 cups
- Molasses: 2,402 cups
- Cinnamon: 9,606 tablespoons
- Ginger: 14,409 tablespoons
- Cloves: 9,606 teaspoons
- Baking Soda: 19,212 teaspoons
- All-purpose Flour: 19,212 cups
- Water: 19,212 tablespoons
Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, you will need to start baking. We suggest you start a few days in advance, and bring in help.
How Did We Figure It Out?
Building a life-size gingerbread house isn’t easy; neither is figuring out how to do it. To come up with our calculation, we estimated two pieces of data:
- The surface area of a house
- How to make gingerbread “boards”
This House Will Give you a Stomachache
As with our previous blog entries, we estimated that a typical American house is 2,500 square feet. Knowing this allowed us to make an educated guess for how much gingerbread it would take to build our house.
To do this we found our imaginary house’s surface area. Our home’s dimensions are:
- 50 feet long
- 50 feet wide
- 10 feet high
Essentially, this gave us a large square. Unfortunately, a gingerbread house is much more. With this in mind, the Movoto team estimated the surface area of a pitched roof.
We tabulated the numbers and found our home had a total surface area of about 5,004 feet.
Knowing the surface area allowed us to concentrate on how many batches of gingerbread it would take to build the structure.
How Do You Make Gingerbread Bricks?
You don’t. The delicious gingerbread homes you’re used to eating are constructed with thin sheets of cookie. Making a so-called “brick” of gingerbread went against the spirit of building a gingerbread house. Not to mention we are fairly certain it would ruin the baking process.
Instead, we used a 15- by 10-inch baking sheet to create gingerbread boards. These gingerbread boards, though tasty, weren’t exactly sturdy. After arguing, we bowed to pressure and doubled the width of our boards. Essentially, each board took two batches to make.
From here, we divided our house’s surface area by the area of our double-thick boards.
Mix It All Together
It would take roughly 9,658 gingerbread boards to build a real-life gingerbread house (remember our boards are double-sided). This would give us a giant delicious home–with absolutely no frills.
What is a gingerbread house without the embellishments? It’s boring, and gingerbread houses aren’t supposed to be boring.
To fix this holiday-crushing problem, we took out our handy serrated knife and cut out two standard windows and a standard door. (This dropped our total amount of gingerbread
by 50 boards, or to 9,608 boards.)
Make It Your Own
You’ll notice our gingerbread house is pretty barebones. To fix it, we needed a ginormous amount of frosting, and other tasty treats. For this we relied on Pelcher’s magic. When he set the world record, he used about 3 pounds of frosting per square foot. Following in Pelcher’s footsteps means we would need about 7,500 pounds of frosting.
As for the gumdrop decorations, we’ll leave that up to you. Our best guess is that you’ll need a small shop’s entire stock.
Good luck, and bring Tums.
Editor’s Note: Movoto Real Estate would like to thank Bonnie S. Benwick of the Washington Post for her input on an earlier draft of our infographic.