This year, Smurfette, Papa Smurf, Gargamel and even Azrael are getting some pretty sweet digs at Frederick’s Pastries in Amherst. The theme for the gingerbread village display is a “Smurf Christmas,” complete with gingerbread mushroom houses, blue twinkle lights and a whole lot of sugar.
Staff from both the Amherst and Bedford locations worked on their own houses during their free time to create individual pieces that make up the gingerbread village. It’s a 34-year-old tradition for the company, something that founder Frederick Lozier began even before opening Frederick’s Pastries. His youngest daughter, Frederick’s Pastries’ proprietor Susan Lozier Robert, places each of the houses in a village each year.
“For me … it’s been something I’ve done since I was a little kid. [My father has] made one every year before Frederick’s Pastries existed. There’s always been a gingerbread village,” she said.
This year’s display is a bit different, though the whole design is still covered in royal icing, gum drops, licorice siding, gummy bear trails and Necco wafer roof tiles.
“I think that’s what stands out the most is they’re not traditional houses, they’re mushroom-topped houses,” marketing director and manager Anne Walsh said. “Everyone has a different technique. I made Rice Krispies treats and I molded the Rice Krispies treats while they were still warm into the mushroom dome.”
There are 18 houses in the village, plus a tree, landscapes, Gargamel’s castle, a windmill and a Disney castle-themed Smurf house.
“Some houses are all purple, and other houses are red and green,” Lozier Robert said. “Everybody that made one of these houses put a lot of work into it.”
Each of the houses will be lit from within. Each base had a hole cut out, and each of the gingerbread cookie templates for building the houses incorporated doors and windows. Lozier Robert said that with the indoor lights and blue twinkle lights in the village, the gingerbread village will sparkle at night.
“The lights inside will be new this year,” she said. “It should be pretty cool.”
Lozier Robert will also add trees and paths between the houses with fondant and icing, and there will be a whole lot of Smurf villagers, too.
“We’ll make sure we have an abundance of those guys running around all the streets of the village,” she said.
Walsh said that staff start thinking about themes for the annual gingerbread village at the end of August. Once a theme is selected, staff start to think about how they’ll create their gingerbread houses.
“Some people know right when they hear the theme right off the bat,” Walsh said. “Other people might have to look at pictures to get inspiration.”
Each house has to be constructed using edible materials. This year, there’s a mix of pretzels, gum drops, M&Ms, marshmallow puffs, red and green peppermints, shredded wheat roof tiles, fondant, licorice, edible glitter, Fruit Roll-Ups and even ice cream cones covered in fondant to make spires for a castle.
“There’s definitely a cool mix of houses this year,” Walsh said. “They’re more eclectic like different colors this year compared to in years past.”
For making your own gingerbread house, Walsh recommends planning ahead, do some shopping and see what kind of candy is out there. Plan how the candy can be used in different ways (like roof tiles, siding, windows or decals).
“You get stuck when things start to fall apart and off of it,” Walsh said. “That’s where you have to be creative, too.”
Customers can view the village during the Amherst store’s regular hours, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.
“A lot of people I know like to come with their families on Saturday and get something to munch on like a cupcake or a gingerbread cookie,” Walsh said.
Each house is labeled with a number, and ballot slips are available at the shop for voting. A few voters will be selected to win prizes like pastries and treats for the holidays and DIY gingerbread decorating kits.
As seen in the November 27, 2014 issue of the Hippo.