It's something on just about everyone's list of things to make every holiday season: a gingerbread house. The biggest problem with gingerbread houses is they look fairly simply, but when you get to making one, you often find out they are anything but that. So much goes into making one that there are so many elements that can go wrong if you are not doing them correctly. If you have tried to make a gingerbread house year after year and fail or find it not looking the way you had hoped, here are some Tips For Creating the Perfect Gingerbread House that you can use to make this delicious looking creation just as you have imagined.
Tips for Creating the Perfect Gingerbread House
Tip #1 – Make sure your pieces are cooled off before you begin. It is also a good idea to bake them a day or two ahead of time so they have time to harden. Soft pieces make the house less stable.
Tip #2 – Use a recipe specific for gingerbread houses. Those recipes for cookies will be much softer and won't set up right. Recipes for building gingerbread houses are less for eating and more for decorating. Try this recipe from Globetrotter Diaries.
Tip #3 – Make sure to use royal icing and not buttercream or another icing. Other frostings and icings will not harden like glue and will leave your gingerbread house unstable and susceptible to deteriorating. The good news is that royal icing is super easy to make. Here is a good recipe for royal icing to try with your gingerbread house. Also, keep your royal icing covered with a damp cloth when you are working with it. It will harden fairly quickly if you don't.
Tip #4 – If you are coloring the icing, use powdered or paste food coloring. Using the liquid kind will thin out your icing too much and not allow it to harden in time.
Tip #5 – Put your house together and let it dry before letting kids help you decorate. This is the most frustrating part about it and it's best to not involve the kids if you can. Build your gingerbread house a day or so ahead of time.
Tip #6 – Don't overload your roof. This is a common mistake that a lot of people make. You don't want too many candies or heavy amounts of icing. Just like a real house, too much on top will cause your roof to cave in. Choose lighter candies like wafers if you can as well.
Tip #7 – Try decorating the side of your house before you assemble. This is a great way to make sure that you don't end up with windows that are sliding off or trying to fit things at strange angles.
Tip #8 – Using a piping bag rather than a knife will make things easier. It also gives your house a cleaner look in the end.
Tip #9 from Alea:
When all else fails, have fun! The best part of decorating gingerbread houses is the process, enjoy it. And if something goes epicly wrong, own it. You may just create everyone's favorite gingerbread house.
When my oldest son opened his gingerbread house kit last year, he discovered that it had many broken pieces inside. He ran to his room, grabbed a Godzilla toy, and then created a super fun gingerbread house.