BERLIN– A gingerbread tradition is once again on display in Berlin’s Atlantic Hotel.
For the sixth year in a row, the Atlantic Hotel’s Laura Stearns has recreated one of the town’s iconic structures in gingerbread. This year’s masterpiece, a gingerbread model of the Moore family home on South Main Street, is now on display inside the hotel.
“I do it because I think it’s fun for both the Atlantic Hotel and for the Town of Berlin,” said Stearns, who manages the hotel. “It is one more thing that makes this town such a special place, especially at Christmas. And I love the challenge of bringing a local building to life in gingerbread. I never know if I can actually do it until it’s ‘glued’ together.”
Several years ago, a town-wide competition encouraged businesses to create gingerbread houses for a friendly competition among downtown shops. Stearns’ entry, which not surprisingly was a gingerbread rendition of the Atlantic Hotel, was so popular with customers
she decided to put together another gingerbread creation the following year. She’s continued the tradition ever since.
This year, she decided to build the Joe and Susan Moore home on South Main Street because she loved the way the home’s Christmas tree
could be seen through its windows. While she wasn’t actually able to get the tree inside the home on the finished product, the rest of the edible edifice is nearly identical to the historic home.
With the help of her family, Stearns spent weeks making the gingerbread, assembling the walls, pouring windows, adding siding and then trimming it with frosting. They experimented to get the details right, finally deciding on sticks of chewing gum broken into small pieces for the roof’s shingles. In the end, Stearns said they used about 70 cups of flour, 14 cups of sugar, 14 cups of molasses, 14 cups of shortening and 28 eggs (combined with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves) on the gingerbread. As for the icing, that took about 28 pounds of confectioners’ sugar and more than 40 egg whites.
“The hardest part of making the house every year is designing the pattern because I try to make the scale and roof pitches accurate,” Stearns said. “This year the roof also gave me a bit of a hard time as it kept sliding down. I ended up gluing it with melted sugar.”
Inspired by Stearns’ efforts, customers Allen and Mary Lee Beaulieu wanted to add to the hotel’s gingerbread display and on their own created a gingerbread replica of neighboring business Rayne’s Reef. It is also on display in the hotel.