St Albans, England, is famous for its pubs. It even has the most pubs per capita in England, and has the oldest pub in England, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks. This year, for my own creative gingerbread project, I decided to recreate some of St Albans iconic pubs in gingerbread.
I make scores of gingerbread houses for other people to decorate each year, but I love having a fun project for myself, too. I now live in St Albans, England, a community with an incredible pub culture, and amazing, ancient, indpendent pubs. The pubs really are like community living rooms, where you meet your neighbors and make new friends. I feel very connected to this community, and a large part of that, I believe, is the pub culture. I wanted to honor that part of St Albans' history, and give back to the community that I love so much.
White Hart Tap Gingerbread Pub
The first house I made was the White Hart Tap. This is very close to our house, and we LOVE this pub! Great atmosphere, wonderful food, fabulous people. We're in there at least once a week, and I knew I had to make this pub out of gingerbread.
Ye Olde Fighting Cocks Gingerbread Pub
Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is thought to be the oldest pub in England, trading since 793! Its gorgeous, quirky architecture was definitely a challenge to replicate in gingerbread, and I did take a few artistic liberties.
Here's what the pub looks like in summertime. I'm proud that I got as close as I did!
I was particularly pleased with my little gum paste cock sculpture, only to realize when we delivered the gingerbread pub, that it's not currently being displayed. I'd been working from older reference photos. Oops!
Each of the gingerbread pub deliveries was a surprise to the owners and staff. It is so much fun to see their faces light up when they see the gingerbread house, and then again when I tell them it's a gift!
The Boot Gingerbread Pub
The Boot is another classic St Albans pub, built around 1500. It's right in city center, across from the old clock tower. Imagine a quirky, charming, old English pub with sturdy oak beams and an warm glow from the fireplace, and you'll have congured this amazing pub perfectly. They also do VERY good tacos (and as someone who lived for many years in Phoenix, Arizona, I take my tacos seriously.)
I love the way the architecture of the pub made it easy to paint a simple interior scene. The windows are made out of sheets of gelatin.
I used Curiously Cinnamon cereal for the shingles on the Gingerbread Boot. It's the same as Cinnamon Toast Crunch in the USA, but for some reason, I've never met a brit who knows what cinnamon toast is! How can a country so famous for loving toast not have cinnamon toast?
Delivery was a success!
The Lower Red Lion Gingerbread Pub
The final gingerbread pub I managed to bake this year was the 17th century pub the Lower Red Lion, on historic Fishpool street.
Pubs are extremely dog friendly in St Albans, and our tiny chihuahua/terrier mix tries to drag us in the front door any time we walk by. She knows she can get a treat, attention from the friendly staff, and a bowl of water.
All of these pubs are a short walk from our home, and we feel so incredibly lucky to live in this amazing community, full of so many incredible pubs. I'm delighted that I could give back a little something to this city that I love so much.
If you want to try your hand at making your own gingerbread house this year, this is the recipe I have been using for decades. It's sturdy enough for construction, but absolutely delicious!
I even wrote an e-book with all of the tips, and tricks we've learned over the years. I'm also always happy to answer questions by email.