Help Pls? Calculating Price For Gingerbread House!

Business By Swede-cakes Updated 18 Nov 2010 , 3:51pm by Swede-cakes

Swede-cakes Posted 13 Nov 2010 , 2:08pm
post #1 of 23

Hi all,

I'm hoping someone out there has experience in designing and creating gingerbread houses, and can give some insight as to just what it takes to calculate pricing for one. A caterer has asked me to provide her client with a quote for a GH. I'm a caker, and have never created GH's to sell...only to eat with my kids!

I'm concerned that I won't calculate it properly and end up spending more time on it than I thought...thus undercharging. Not a good thing, considering my holiday scheduled is filling fast with other orders.

The client is looking to spend $150-$200 for a GH between 12-18" tall, something that looks different than the ones in the grocery. It's for a give-away at her table at a show. Oh, and they would like a quote by noon today!

Any advice would sure be appreciate! Thanks in advance!!

22 replies
-K8memphis Posted 13 Nov 2010 , 2:35pm
post #2 of 23

An 18 inch tall sculpture for two hundred dollars?
In cake years that's at least four tiers. phffft.

However that's a low threshold--better than the grocery store ones.

10-12 inches tall--an easy one that seems really detailed--you could put a chiminy chimny chimenny chim i knee (howdoyouspellthat) to get the height up there more--and add a puff of smoke too.

I'd maybe do it but it needs to be small with a grander board and easy details.

Brainstorm ideas:

Use mostly honey instead of molasses--it does not respond to humidity like molasses does. (learned that from Franky)

I'd use thick foam core and make maybe a 7x9 inch 'floor' or whatever size--to attach onto the bottom board. I'd place the gingerbread walls around the floor so it is nice & stable. I'd place four pieces of foam board cut to fit the outside of each corner and attached to the bottom board--this anchors the walls inside & out--so the whole thing is uber secure--no messing around. Cover the foamcore with bushes and 'snow'.

I use my zester to sand my gingerbread so things join and fit really well.

--I always overbake my gingerbread

--a super medium to use for piped pieces like scroll work and fences etc. I like to use pate choux, cream puff dough--it is very stable--it does not break like royal. Making tons of extra pieces is as easy as piping. You gotta bake it but it's not as fussy & unpredictable as royal to me.

--add gum arabic to your royal to strengthen it

I think it was called Franky's Attic something like that--was a fabulous incredible wonderful all things gingerbread website--I hope someone will know where to find her now. I think she was hounded by spammers & had to move. She is the g-bread guru. She had patterns & stuff--wonderful!

-K8memphis Posted 13 Nov 2010 , 2:43pm
post #3 of 23

Consider impressing your outside walls & roof so you don't have to add more nit picky decor later--just a little snow & some window treatments, flower boxes. You gotta have a roof & walls anyway so make those easy.

$200 is not much for a custom job like this so try & save yourself from endless hand work. Add some cool details like trees, snowman and holiday stuff. Frozen stream, snow ball fort, etc.

Like save your handwork time for some real impact like a scroll accented porch or something like that. If the scroll work breaks--oops snow drift & icicles!!! icon_biggrin.gif Make a mail box, bird feeder or bird bath all snowed over. For only $200 I'd skimp on house details and major on the details in the yard.

Swingset, pool, picnic table, barbeque, snow shovel

Just some brainstorming

I'll come help you!

adonisthegreek1 Posted 13 Nov 2010 , 2:45pm
post #4 of 23

This site may give you some ideas.

I recently made my first all scratch gingerbread house. It was more work than I ever imagined, but that is because it is two story and has gumpaste furnishings inside. It is in my photos. I will not be selling it, but donating it for silent auction. A lot of the competitors did very elaborate houses that looked like a Barbie penthouse complete with bay windows and an outdoor scene. From what I am told, they go at auction for $150-$250. I know that's a wide price range, but it's in line with the $249 pricing on the above link.


-K8memphis Posted 13 Nov 2010 , 2:51pm
post #5 of 23

!!!!Gingerbread Gingerbread Gingerbread!!!!

adonisthegreek1 Posted 13 Nov 2010 , 2:55pm
post #6 of 23

I only made a gingerbread floor for the second level. I built the 4 walls of the house without the bottom floor. I put the house on 2" thick styrofoam to raise the base then put that on on plywood. I secured the house to the board with royal icing. I rolled tinted, textured gumpaste/fondant and layed that inside like tile on the floor.

Swede-cakes Posted 13 Nov 2010 , 5:07pm
post #7 of 23

You guys are awesome!!! K8, come help me!!! How fast can you get to NH?? icon_smile.gif

So for about $150, sounds like I can do a cute 8x10-ish cottage and amp up the accents. Love those ideas of the birdbath, mailbox, etc. My gosh you guys are smart!!

I have to answer her now, but don't have time to sketch out a couple of choices (just got back from morning dlvries). Wish me luck!

-K8memphis Posted 13 Nov 2010 , 5:13pm
post #8 of 23

Quote her TWO HUNDRED!!!

cutthecake Posted 13 Nov 2010 , 5:33pm
post #9 of 23

Your tip to use cream puff dough for scrollwork, etc., is brilliant. Royal icing is so fragile and temperamental.
Thanks for all the other great ideas, everyone!

And Swede-cakes, charge the full $200 that is budgeted!

-K8memphis Posted 13 Nov 2010 , 5:42pm
post #11 of 23

CutTheCake -- I mean we all have seen or made the swans right? and I saw Jacques Torres make some cool stuff on his tv show. He made an entire stand with it to show off the items he made.

Slowly slowly clang the gears in my brain--it's a wonderful tool. You can write entire sonnets with it and the letters will stand up handily, fearlessly.

Yay a fellow pate choux convert!!!

cutthecake Posted 13 Nov 2010 , 6:00pm
post #12 of 23

This link, posted above, is POLYMER CLAY!
What exquisite work.

How small a tip can you squeeze pate choux through? When you pipe and bake it, how much does it puff up?
And now I want a cream puff.
I don't like to eat Royal Icing (or gingerbread for that matter), but with cream puff dough, I can see me doing the Hansel & Gretel thing: "Nibble, nibble like a mouse, who is nibblling at my house?"

cheeseball Posted 13 Nov 2010 , 6:23pm
post #13 of 23
Originally Posted by -K8memphis

You can write entire sonnets with it and the letters will stand up handily, fearlessly.

Thank ya kindly thumbs_up.gif

cheeseball Posted 13 Nov 2010 , 7:18pm
post #14 of 23
Originally Posted by -K8memphis

You can write entire sonnets with it and the letters will stand up handily, fearlessly.

Thank ya kindly thumbs_up.gif

cheeseball Posted 13 Nov 2010 , 7:20pm
post #15 of 23
Originally Posted by -K8memphis

You can write entire sonnets with it and the letters will stand up handily, fearlessly.

Thank ya kindly thumbs_up.gif

-K8memphis Posted 13 Nov 2010 , 7:25pm
post #16 of 23

You can control the puff by the temperature of the oven. Just play with it. It's so forgiving compared to royal. I make test samples one at a time to check & see how it will do.

I've left it in the oven to cool off as the oven cools when I wnated real real light colored. I've used kool-aid to color it before I baked it.

Tremendous possibilities.

You can pipe real small and then keep the temp low & slow -and it should be fine. I mean even a 1 tube/tip probably. But y'know you'd bake those off separate from larger pieces. And smaller is easier than bigger.

Yes it's not difficult to "re-purpose" any extras!! icon_biggrin.gif scroll way down past half way there's a whole big quote that covers many photos--the toothpicks were not that visible in person.

The bombs bursting in air and the lettering are pate choux:

I covered pate choux with colored sugar to simulate the fireworks effect. And no problem with it staying airborn--so light in wieght. Travels well. You can click on the picture to open it up.

-K8memphis Posted 13 Nov 2010 , 7:30pm
post #17 of 23
Originally Posted by Swede-cakes

You guys are awesome!!! K8, come help me!!! How fast can you get to NH?? icon_smile.gif

Just any minute now... icon_lol.gif

Originally Posted by Swede-cakes

Wish me luck!

Hope you said $250 icon_biggrin.gif

cutthecake Posted 14 Nov 2010 , 12:59am
post #18 of 23

Awesome! Thanks for all the tips.

Do you have any pictures of gingerbread houses with pate a choux decorations? Thanks.

Swede-cakes Posted 14 Nov 2010 , 12:37pm
post #19 of 23

WE GOT THE CLIENT! Gingerbread house budget came down to $150 though, even though I quoted $200. But that's alright...I'll adjust accordingly. CC'ers, I really appreciate your helpful tips and advice. Looking forward to getting started on this.

I guess that leads me to one more question. If the GH is due morning of 12/8, should I start it this week and so that if I finish early, I can bag it to keep it clean? Thx!

cutthecake Posted 14 Nov 2010 , 1:14pm
post #20 of 23

Congratulations! I would definitely start as soon as possible, so you'll have time to handle any glitches along the way. (If you have to re-bake anything, you'll have time.) Yes, you can just keep it covered until 12/8.

I usually start my gingerbread houses on the day after Thanksgiving, while the rest of the world is out Christmas shopping. I find it's best to bake the pieces and let them really dry before I do anything else. I only bake "extras" of pieces that are really intricate and fragile, and take my chances with the others. I do make extra dough, just in case I do need to re-bake a piece. And many cracks or breaks can be glued together and covered with decorations.

Good luck and have fun! Now I'm excited about making my gingerbread house!

-K8memphis Posted 14 Nov 2010 , 1:34pm
post #21 of 23
Originally Posted by cutthecake

Awesome! Thanks for all the tips.

Do you have any pictures of gingerbread houses with pate a choux decorations? Thanks.

Not on a house--no photos. I was offering brain storm ideas.
I've used it for monograms and for leaves and stuff like that. Words. Other stuff I can't remember.

Like I was envisioning curliques for the porch, porch rails and pickets for the fence, waft of smoke for the chimney. You could make a rocking chair, an adirondack chair, I've made picture frames and jewelry settings out of it. Stuff like that. Would make good rocks and great bushes too. You could make your picnic table out of it. The mail box, trees.

Yes for sure--start now. Keep it simple.

cutthecake Posted 14 Nov 2010 , 2:18pm
post #22 of 23

More pate a choux questions....
How can you make it white for snow, icicles, etc.? Powdered sugar glaze? Thinned royal icing?
What do you use to attach sugar to it for sparkle? I imagine if you sprinkle the sugar on before baking, it would stick on its own. But how can you attach sugar after baking? Won't liquid make it soggy and limp?
Thanks for letting me pick your brain. I've only used pate a choux for cream puffs and eclairs, so this is fascinating to me.

Swede-cakes Posted 18 Nov 2010 , 3:51pm
post #23 of 23

Ok, seriously? Now I'm getting calls for other Gingerbread Houses and it's makin' me a LEEEETLE nervous!

Is from today until Dec 3rd (including getting my family through Thanksgiving) not enough time to make a big (18x20 ish) colonial? No garage, regular gable roof w/ simple peak only over the front door, no shutters...think traditional straight and clean.

I'm a confident girl, but I'm in Kindergarten on this GH building thing and now I have potentially more orders than just the one I op'd about a couple of days ago.

Thoughts please? Should I have a strait jacket ready? Thx!

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