After 2 years of putting off this project, I finally decided to take the plunge and just do it. I decided it was time to build a gingerbread house to add to my repertoire of Things that Dental Girl Can Do. So to everyone who wants to build a gingerbread house, here's a step by step guide, with handy suggestions on things to do and not to do based on my vast one-time building experience. All photos are referred to in clockwise fashion. Most of the time.
Recipe taken from here.
1. Print out a gingerbread template, trace it out onto greaseproof paper and cut the pieces out. Make sure you use something with non-toxic ink - we found that it actually transferred onto the gingerbread.
2. Housemate showing allegiance to a wombat shaped cutter, abandoning all prior commitments to making a gingerbread man. We had to pick up the slack and fashion his house, his garden and even gave him a wife (as you will see later).
3. Cut the shapes out of the dough and bake them. Pretty self explanatory.
4. Make the royal icing while the cookies are baking. Several tips - if you're grinding down regular sugar down to icing sugar, make sure it's ground down to dust, leaving no particles. No particles. Our royal icing turned out rather grainy, but it still did the job. Ohh, and make sure it's thick enough. What's thick enough? To be honest, I still don't quite know. First attempt was too runny and had to squeeze everything out of the piping bag, thicken it up and start over. Not fun.
5. Do a rough check to make sure that you know exactly how the house fits together. I was rather excited at this point, thus my rather big grin on my face. Word of advise - do a thorough check - you will find out why later in the post.
6. Construct the walls. Leave it until the icing hardens and test its integrity with a few sharp prods.
7. The roof. As luck would have it, I purposefully chose the design with the steepest roof available because I thought that it was cute and Alpine-Lodge like and so suitable for my first dream Gingerbread Home. Proceeded to pop it on for fit an realized that our walls were not parallel.
When this happens, start hacking away at bits and pieces that are in the way with a cleaver. Really - it works.
8. When the roof finally fits the walls, 'ice like you have never iced before', as my fellow gingerbread house builder told me to do. Frantically slopped on as much royal icing as possible around the edges of the walls and held onto the walls for dear life to prevent gravity from exerting its full force.
Decided that life was too short to be standing around holding onto gingerbread house roofs and decided to try to figure out a smarter way to achieve the same result.
Found a couple of textbooks on my bookshelf (yes, that's my Biochemistry book from 2nd Year and the Fundamentals of Fixed Prosthetics by Shilingburg. Glad to know that they are still put to some use) and with a few ice cream sticks managed to create a pretty good support system for the roof.
9. Decorate the house. The fun part!! We popped some raspberry drops on the top of the roof, Smarties for the edges and made our thached roof out of vanlila wafers. Ohh, and it has chocolate sticks on the back of the house to simulate logs.
10. Decorated the garden with some gingerbread trees. Oops, one of the Smarties fell off. We glued it back. Nobody will ever know.
The completed house, With Mr and Mrs Gingerbread. Mr Gingerbread could stand on his own, but Mrs Gingerbread could not. So we iced her skirt down onto the board and left Mr Gingerbread freestanding. Except he still keeps falling down and requires propping up.
"Just like a man." Someone commented.