You’ll likely get a pleasant whiff of cinnamon before you see the latest “work of art” that Fred Johnson, executive district chef of the House of Representatives, took off his plate Tuesday.
Follow your nose and you’ll find this year’s Capitol gingerbread “house” tucked away on the first floor of the south wing across from the Memorial Door.
The sugarcoated replica of the Capitol has turned into an annual event, and for Johnson, the third time might very well be the charm.
“I think this year is by far the best,” Johnson told HOH.
Nearly 70 pounds of sugar, 18 pounds of butter and 378 hours — not to mention “brainpower” and “lost sleep” — went into completing this year’s culinary creation.
Johnson began constructing the edible edifice in early November, but the brainstorming began while his second iteration, boasting 175 pounds of icing and 225 pounds of gingerbread dough, was still on display outside the Members’ Dining Room last year.
“I’ve got plans. I’ve got to make it better every year,” Johnson told HOH in 2018.
“Better” meant running an antique train on a track through this year’s display, an ode to the 150th anniversary of the First Transcontinental Railroad, while LED lights beam throughout the hollowed inside, offering a more contemporary contribution.
A meager 110 pounds of icing and 175 pounds of gingerbread dough were used this year.
Johnson also expanded the Dome’s diameter, a sweet feat completed with the help of sous chefs Deborah Taylor and Kimberly Ecle from Charles Street Bakery in Maryland, a spot House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer is quite familiar with.
“This magnificent piece of pastry was made in my district!” boasted a proud Hoyer, who stopped by to see what his place of work looks like if blanketed in a hundred pounds of icing.
As tempting as it might be, Johnson isn’t sugarcoating his advice to not eat the gingerbread.
“It’s pretty solid,” he said.
The display will be taken down right before Congress returns in January.