Trio replicates Mukilteo lighthouse in gingerbread
A local family made a gingerbread Mukilteo lighthouse for Christmas, complete with a lit Fresnel lens and lights in the windows.
Gloria Brinkley, with help of brother-in-law C. Blane Brinkley III and his wife Deanna Brinkley, made the house entirely edible except for the lights inside the windows.
Even the 1-inch copy of a fourth-order Fresnel lens in the tower is edible. It is made of isomalt, which is a sugar substitute favored by cake decorators.
“Believe me, they took their time,” said Ruth Brinkley, Gloria’s mother-in-law, who has the lighthouse on display in her Mukilteo home. “It is exquisite. They had the patience I would have never had.”
It’s been a Brinkley family tradition to make gingerbread houses with the kids. This year, as most of the “kids” are grown and have left home for college, the adults decided to continue the fun on their own, but with just the one house.
The Brinkleys first sculpted the Fresnel lens out of polymer clay, baked it, and used it to make a silicone mold. They then poured melted isomalt into the mold and let it cool.
That was way back in July or – dare it be said – “Christmas in July.”
They baked the gingerbread pieces a week before they built it and decorated the lighthouse with frosting and candies on Dec. 7 and 8. In all, it took more than 15 hours to make.
“The coolest thing about the lens was we found that when the light was placed underneath, it actually magnified it out,” Gloria said.
As for the rest of the gingerbread lighthouse, the roof was shingled with strips of fruit roll, the door of white chocolate and gum. The door handle, wreaths and chimney top were gumdrops.
The roof was lined with red licorice and hard striped candies, with sticks of gum on the tower deck. The pipe on top was a roll of the same fruit candy topped with a Spree and a cake décor star.
The windows, like the lens, were made with isomalt, and were framed by red and green Nerds.
The tower’s deck railing was made out of piped royal icing allowed to dry, then attached. These had to be fixed several times, as the icing was very fragile.
The Brinkleys found instructions for making a paper model of the Mukilteo Light Station on www.fiddlersgreen.net and borrowed them for the gingerbread house – enlarging it just a bit.
They were surprised they couldn’t find a gingerbread Mukilteo lighthouse on the Internet – the closest they got to it was the Point Wilson lighthouse in Port Townsend that was mislabeled as Mukilteo’s.
“We considered this a ‘beta’ version,” Gloria said. “There are quite a few lessons we learned and things we found we could do better next time.”
If they make another lighthouse, Gloria and the gang have decided they’ll make the windows thinner so that you can see the lens through the “glass” and add the railings last, to avoid any “tragic incidents.” They may also add in some of the grounds around the house.
“You probably won’t be surprised if I say I am a little detail oriented with these things,” said Gloria, who is a self-taught cake decorator. “I have so many ideas for improvements for next time.”
As is also tradition, the Brinkleys will soon have a “smashing and eating” party, where they’ll get to taste their creation – but not at Ruth’s house.
She doesn’t want to have to clean up smashed gingerbread bits.
“They’ll have to take it somewhere else to do that,” she said.