One of Renee Baumann’s Gingerbread Brownstones

Renee Baumann has gone to both architecture school and culinary school. For most of us, that would sound like two fields that would never actually collide, but Baumann has, interestingly enough, found a way to combine both of her passions: gingerbread brownstones! After gaining a lot of publicity for creating a Brooklyn brownstone out of gingerbread last year, the Brooklyn resident is repeating her culinary architectural experiments again this year–only this time, the stakes are higher. This year, rather than creating just a single home, Baumann is recreating an entire Brooklyn block with gingerbread–a lot of gingerbread.

Because of the overwhelming response she got for her gingerbread brownstone last year, Baumann wanted to make her project more of a community event this year, where people could participate and become a part of the creation process. Her grand vision of a gingerbread streetscape therefore worked perfectly for such a collaboration, as it was a project that would definitely benefit from some extra pairs of hands. Baumann posted a call for volunteers on her blog a few weeks ago, and she soon had plenty of helping hands slotted for all nine days of the gingerbread block building schedule.

Renee Baumann.
Renee Baumann with four of her volunteers in the upper space of 61 Local in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.

Baumann and her merry band of volunteers are working on creating the gingerbread block at 61 Local, a restaurant and pub in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn that bills itself as a public house that celebrates ‘locally crafted food and the people who make it.’ “They [61 Local] have a mission of being involved in the culinary landscape in a really positive way,” Baumann said. “And there’s no way I could be doing this without them.” Her gratitude to 61 Local is exemplified in the fact that once the project is complete, Baumann will be showcasing the finished gingerbread block at the same location, with an opening party scheduled for Sunday, December 9th.

The volunteers hard at work at 61 Local.
A volunteer cuts out the windows for the wall of one of the gingerbread brownstones.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, Baumann and four volunteers were hard at work on the upper level of 61 Local as they crafted the various sections of each of the gingerbread brownstones. While some sweated it out rolling out the dark brown dough, others were tasked with the intricate and creative designs required for the doors and windows of the houses. Peppercorns were installed as doorknobs, and icing caps of various sizes were used to cut out windows. Baumann kept a watchful eye on all that was happening on the floor, while speeding up and down the stairs a couple of times to check on the gingerbread she had cooking in the ovens downstairs.

Renee Baumann rolls out the brick pattern on the gingerbread dough.
A section of the completed wall, now ready to popped into the oven.
The doors and windows are being created with a lot of intricate and creative designs on them.

Having had a glimpse of the work that has already been done, and her vision of the completed project, Baumann’s gingerbread brownstones promise to be a spectacle when it is finally shown to the public. Besides ogling at the beauty of it all, Baumann has invited the public to bid on each of the four houses that will make the entire block, with proceeds from the auction going to City Harvest, a local food bank that aims to feed the city’s hungry men, women and children, thereby making Baumann’s project something bigger than just an architectural and culinary marvel.

One of the finished sections of the gingerbread block.

You can follow the progress of the gingerbread brownstones by checking out Baumann’s blog, Kitchen Table Scraps, or by following her on Twitter @rfbaumann. Baumann will also be conducting a class on how to create a gingerbread brownstone on December 19th; details on the same can be found by clicking here. In any case, make sure you head down to 61 Local on December 9th for the unveiling of Baumann’s completed project–this is certainly something that needs to be seen to be believed!

Get in touch with the author of this article on Twitter  @thisisaby.