I know, I know. The saying is "icing on the cake," but for me, it's all about the cookies...gingerbread cookies! There is only one icing that I use for my gingerbread houses, and THIS IS IT! That's right, that was the link. Go back to the bold THIS IS IT, and click on it for the recipe. I'll wait while you take a look...
This is the icing I have used since I started with the gingerbread houses, and it works very well. I have heard a lot of people complain that the icing that comes with the Gingerbread House Kits you can buy just doesn't set up very well...but this stuff, this stuff is good. As with many glues, there are some spots where you do have to take a minute and wait...but that's life, right? Why would gingerbread be any different?
As I said on Tuesday, the baking is an adult job, and I'm going out on a limb to say that construction is too. My Dollface has helped, and she is very good, but she's in her 20s now. When she was young, notsomuch. It's just not an instant gratification kind of thing. Keep this in mind, especially if you are working with small children. Even now, she still hasn't done it often enough that she knows exactly what comes next, and she also has not mastered the art of reading my mind. Perhaps that last part is a good thing, in general, though!
Back to our topic...you've baked your house pieces (or purchased a kit), and you have a big batch of fresh Royal Icing, some of it loaded into a bag with a decorating tip...and here we go!
First, decide what you want to build your house on...are you taking it to Grandma's? Or is it staying home? I often take mine with me on Christmas day, and I hate feeling like I have to get a dish or pan back later, so I keep some of those cake rounds you can get by the party supplies on hand.
Then I lay out my house pieces to do some pre-decorating. (Again, the icing dries pretty fast, so by the time I am done with this step, I am just about ready to put the thing together.)
Then I draw a rectangle on the board, same size the bottom of my house will be. Using a BIG decorating tip, I pipe one of the long lines and one short, and I squish the walls in place on top of the icing. (With only two hands, I could not get photos of these steps...sorry. Use your instincts, and you'll do fine.) When you've got them just where you want them, squish a line of icing into the inside corner (inside the house), and hold the pieces in place until they start to feel like they can stand alone. Add in the other two pieces, and repeat the line of icing on the inside corners. When they all seem to hold well, stand back and take a breath...stretch a little. You've earned a tiny break. :)
Now, it's time for the roof! (I know, that last picture has part of the roof...so out of order. Forgive me?) Anyway, the roof is just like the walls, except there's more gravity to work against. Pipe some icing on each angled part of one side of the end pieces, and place the roof carefully, holding it in place...don't let go yet! Get that icing, and do all three interior corners that you've just created (two where roof meets angles, and one where roof meets long side of house). Don't be afraid to use too much...you cannot reinforce the inside joins on your last roof piece, so this one is your "helper" for the life of the house! When it feels like this roof piece is staying on it's own (it takes awhile), pipe a good amount of icing on the four edges that will hold the other roof piece in place, and set it on. Remember, you have to hold it there!
If you need to, reinforce either roof piece with icing on the outside of the house, under the roof and/or down the center of the peak. Remember, this house doesn't have to survive a building inspection...it's just gotta stand up until the kiddies can add the candy and present it to Grandma!
This is actually where I stopped this year. I have two houses built, just waiting for my dear Peanut to be ready to decorate! I let my houses "dry" for a few hours before wrapping them in plastic to store them until we are ready to decorate. The plastic is partly to keep the gingerbread from soaking up moisture in the air, and partly to keep Cat 1 and Cat 2 out of them.
Wow! Since I stopped there with the houses, I'm gonna stop here with the blog for today. Go do some gingerbreading with your family!