Making and decorating a Gingerbread House at Christmas time can be a fun and satisfying activity. It can also be an activity that starts off well, but ends in tears and may risk having you throw pieces of gingerbread at the closest wall in frustration. There are cutter sets that you can buy which facilitate cutting the correct size for the walls and roof of your gingerbread house if you want to bake your own gingerbread. If you’re like me and you’re happy to find a short cut, you can find a kit at Flying TIGER store that sells for only €4.00! (I have included the link for the UK, but you can click on the home page and find the website for your country). TIGER takes the architectural stress away from this creative project by removing the baking part. If you wish to decorate your gingerbread house with your children, I suggest assembling it while they are at school, and then allow them the fun of decorating it with their favourite sweets. I only used sweets to create a ‘garden hedge’ around the border of the cake board. I wasn’t 100% sure how I wanted to decorate this house when I bought it, but gathering some cake decorating utensils that I had at home, and a piping bag full of Royal Icing, I had lots of fun creating what I think was my first ever Gingerbread House!
Making Royal Icing is an easy process using your electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add 500g icing sugar gradually (one spoonful at a time) to 3 large egg whites, until the icing stands up n stiff peaks and is a candid white colour. If you don’t want to use raw egg, you can use a Royal Icing mix where you just add water. These can be found in most cake decorating specialty stores. I used the PAVONI Italia brand.
First you must decorate the walls and roof, and it’s much easier to do as much as possible before you assemble the house. If you want many intricate details around the windows or door for example, decorating the pieces while they are still flat on the table will be much easier and probably save you an anxiety attack.
This is a ‘silicone onlay’ from Marvelous Molds and I decided to use it for the roof. You must use gumpaste also known as sugarpaste and not fondant when working with these silicone onlays.
Once you’ve prepared your walls and roof, it is time to assemble your Gingerbread House. Use a sturdy cake board for the base. If you have someone to assist you during this process, your life will be a little easier, otherwise you can do as I did, and use some food cans to provide support for the walls while you wait for the Royal Icing to set. Royal Icing dries very quickly, so you really don’t have to wait long at all.
Continue to assemble your house, and once the roof is attached, you’re ready to finish your house letting your creativity go wild. Candy canes are an easy decoration to attach and they’ll make your house look instantly festive. I used plunger cutters to make the little holly leaves on the top of the roof, and at the base of either candy cane. I then coloured them with petal dust. (Making them in green sugarpaste would have been easier though). You could make a snowman for the ‘garden’ from fondant or sprinkle the finished house with edible glitter. Lights can also be added inside the house. Create a little hole at the bottom of the house (choose a corner) for the electrical cord. Once you’ve finished decorating your Gingerbread House, add a pretty ribbon around the cake board and stand back to admire your handy work!
Look online for inspiration if your Christmas spirit is starting to wane.