Baking in Memphis: man creates gingerbread Blickling Hall
- Credit: Eric Becker
An amateur baker from America, who has never visited the UK, has recreated one of Norfolk's stately homes in gingerbread.
Eric Becker, from Memphis, Tennessee, has wowed people with his recreation of Blickling Hall, having only started making gingerbread houses last year.
Using online images of the hall, the 29-year-old drew the template of the National Trust building on Microsoft Paint. The finished product was completed in 60 hours over three weeks.
The French and Spanish teacher said he had long been an avid admirer of architecture, including the former stately home Costessey Hall, in Costessey, which was torn down decades ago.
Mr Becker said: "In general, I’d call myself an old soul—I’ve done preservation work before on old houses in Detroit.
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"These experiences led me to discover more and more English stately houses and when I was picking one to use as my reference, Blickling Hall stood out to me.
"I was very drawn to its Jacobean features and it was complicated enough without being overly so—it is in general rectangular in plan without the annexes or wings—that I knew it would be a good choice and my mind was made up.
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"It was also quite lovely that Blickling Hall was near Costessey, which is what started my interest in English stately houses.
"This house is way bigger and much more elaborate. I wanted to truly challenge myself this year. I love the challenge and the stress and problem solving that goes into this.
"I get engrossed in my work and can work for hours on end and almost forget everything going around me. I also watch a lot of Netflix when working."
Mr Becker used around 20lbs of gingerbread and glued the structure together with three batches of homemade royal icing.
A further eight pounds of gum-paste was needed for the decorative elements of the hall and three pounds of isomalt - a sugar substitute - for the windows.
The build also has working lights.
Mr Becker said: "It is not 100pc faithful to the original and it is bigger than the original is in scale to the house but gingerbread houses naturally require some artistic license."
The incredible structure, which has been liked thousands of times on social media, is currently being used as a Christmas decoration at his home in Memphis.
Mr Becker, who is originally from Michigan, said: "The first question I usually got when I posted this online was how do you eat it all? The reality is that I don’t.
"The gingerbread is baked very hard and would crack your teeth. It’s also heavily spiced with clove and cinnamon so as to keep pests away.
"Every piece is handcrafted. Every windowpane was hand cut out and hand poured with hot melted isomalt. The only machine used was my KitchenAid mixer - otherwise it was done entirely by hand.
"The house is on display in my own home. I don’t intend to take it anywhere and display it. I don’t have any connections to an institution that would be interested
"I use it as a Christmas decoration and enjoy looking at it all lit up. Last year, I destroyed my house after a few months with a hammer and filmed it. I’m not sure what I will do with this one. In the end, gingerbread houses are ephemeral and I can’t hold on to it forever."
The hall's tower was built piece by piece with details added as he went, taking around eight hours. The baker said the bay windows, which were made entirely out of gum-paste and isomalt, were the hardest part of the assembling due to their fragility.
Mr Becker studied for 12 months in Belgium but was sad to not make it across the channel to the UK, and hoped to come back with his husband to do an English tour with Blickling Hall on the list.
The 29-year-old hobby baker is also a huge fan of The Great British Bake Off and dreams of someday owning his own bakery.