I know that a lot of you feel a bit daunted by the prospect of building a gingerbread house. You imagine icing everywhere, collapsing walls and sliding roofs. You think yours will never look like the pictures and that you'll swear to never build one again. But don't despair, building a gingerbread house can be straightforward and fun with the odd bit of drama all being part of the fun. We've built so many gingerbread houses here at Clever Gretel, that we do have it down to a pretty speedy art and we want to share some of our tips to help you enjoy the magic of building a gingerbread house together.
The essential part of the build: Royal icing. An simple icing sugar mixture will not do! You need a good strong Royal Icing that will act as a glue and set firm. And the right texture is essential. Too runny and it will all slide while setting, too stiff and it will just separate from the gingerbread. KalenderHaus kits come with premixed Royal Icing. Simply pick your nozzle shape and screw it on to your tube of premixed Royal Icing. No mixing, no mess, no piping bags needed. Made your own gingerbread but need our handy tubes of icing? Stock up in our online shop.
Now, find a surface that you want your gingerbread house to live on. I love using wooden chopping boards to put my house on. We all have them to hand and they add to the whole charming look of a snowy gingerbread house scene. A marble tile, a cake board or any solid surface you can find would work too.
Lay your gingerbread pieces out ready for construction. It depends on the size of your pieces but as long as the roof is big enough, I like to start by icing the gable ends and resting the side pieces against those. Don't go too crazy with the icing. You want enough to stick but too much and it just takes longer to set.
Once you have constructed all four sides and if you have the time, it is always best to leave it to set for a few hours or even over night but at this stage. But you could go ahead and get started with the roof if you can't wait to get it completed.
I will admit it, even after building countless gingerbread houses, the roof is always the part that can go wrong. Most of us don't have the time (or the patience!) to sit and hold the roof in place and nudging or gently pushing the house always risks breaking up the icing that has started to set. But I have some suggestions when you get to that stage!
To put your roof on, pipe on more icing to the gable tops of your roof. You can also put it on the top of the side pieces but this is not essential.
Now here's a top tip for keeping it place while it sets: find a piece of card (I cut up a box that's lying around) and cut a rectangle with the short side as tall as where the bottom of the roof comes to. You could either use two identical pieces or one longer piece that you fold to make a V. Place these under the roof so that the roof is resting on the these.
Repeat on the other side and this frees you up to sit back and admire your house, hands free! Make to put a thick line of icing in the top seam of your roof. This will help to glue it all into place. As long as you don't nudge it or put pressure on the house, go ahead and pipe your icing on the seams.
Leave it all to set overnight so it nice and firm. Touch it too soon and it may collapse. Now the real fun starts; the decorating!