Thursday, December 6, 2012

gingerbread construction {tips and tricks}

what is so wonderful about 
gingerbread houses
is that they are always
even when they are a 
big. fat. mess
some years
i do an elaborate construction
(with assistance from hubster-of course)
like this
and sometimes
like this
and occasionally
like these
but no matter how
elaborate or simple
there are a few things that
are a constant
i am sharing with you
some of my tricks
for stress free gingerbread house construction

Making Plans
-let the gingerbread dough rest in the refrigerator overnight before baking
-do not construct the house on the same day you have baked the gingerbread, give it a day to cool and settle
-if you buy pre-made gingerbread pieces, make sure they are dry before decorating or constructing
-to dry pieces out (especially in humid environment), place them on a cookie sheet and place in a slow (225-250F) oven until they firm up

Construction Management
-if using a purchased kit, do not, i repeat, do not use the frosting that comes with the kit to assemble the house. it will frustrate the dickens out of you.  make a nice big batch of Royal Icing (alton brown's recipe)
-if you are decorating with mainly candies and sprinkles, construct the house at least 12 hours before decorating---24 hours is best
-if you want the candies to stick, use royal icing.  if you want them to taste yummy, use frosting.
-assemble the walls of the house first, allow to dry for about an hour, then attach the roof pieces.
-prop the pieces up while they are drying, even if it looks like they are staying without a problem.
-allow the house to fully dry, before adhering it to a base

Custom Built
-if perfect corners and straight edges are your thing, use a micro-plane to shave the ends of the gingerbread pieces.
-if looking for a darker hue on your gingerbread, or to paint gum pieces to look like hardwood floors, simply mix a bit of coffee granules into vodka to desired color and consistency and paint it on.  the vodka will evaporate quickly.
-when piping intricate details, use a piping bag with a tip.  you will get consistent results and small detailed lines.
-when using the piping bag, do not over-fill, particularly if you have small hands.  put no more than a cup of royal icing in at a time.
-if you make a mistake and it really bothers you, wait until it dries to easily pick it off
-when doing intricate detail work, it is best to decorate the house before constructing. it allows for more freedom of motion

but most of all
have fun!

i would love to hear any tips you may have for stress free gingerbread construction
if you have a question about this topic that i didn't answer
please feel free to ask in the comments


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