Making a gingerbread house may be one of the best ways to spend a snowy, blustery afternoon. Here are some tips from gingerbread expert Beth Pollock of A Piece of Cake Designs/MerryArts in Harrisville, New Hampshire.
Make the gingerbread at least a day or two ahead of assembly, as the pieces need time to cool and harden.
A cool, dry day is best for this activity. If gingerbread is made on a humid day, it will come out soft and crumbly like a cookie, rather than hard and sturdy like a rock.Humidity will also prevent the icing from hardening. If you have a choice, wait for a better day.
- You can freeze the dough a month or so ahead or store the baked pieces, separated by waxed paper, in an airtight container in a cold area for a week or two.
- Royal icing is the glue that holds the house and materials together. Ours is made from meringue powder, confectioners' sugar, and water. The batter should be stiff enough to work as a glue and hold its shape, but flexible enough to spread easily.
- To prevent freshly made royal icing from hardening, keep a moist towel over the mixing bowl.
- If you use a pastry bag, make sure that there aren't any air pockets in the icing itself, which will wreak havoc as you pipe it out.
- To color icing, use paste food coloring. Liquid food coloring will thin out the icing.
- To make a snowman, whip up a special batch of royal icing and keep adding confectioners' sugar until the mix becomes doughlike and can be rolled into balls.
- Watch the pets while you create your masterpiece. They'd love to join the fun, but they can ruin your work faster than it takes to say, "Gingerbread!"
Have you made a gingerbread house, or would you like to try it out? Please share your experiences, advice, and stories on our blog!
A set of gingerbread house pieces all set to go:
Cakeboard, icing spatula, pastry bag, and other materials used to make a gingerbread house:
Treats galore to use as decorations:
Royal icing used to make window lattice:
A border of icing secures the window lattice to the gingerbread wall:
A snowman made from royal icing thickened with extra confections' sugar:
An evergreen tree made from a sugar cone; royal icing was applied with a leaf tip:
A roof with icicles:
Another roof treatment: