DIY: Easy Gingerbread House
Daunted by the thought of constructing a full-on gingerbread house? This simple take on the classic holiday craft proves that that making just the façade and few trees creates the same magical effect. Placing a votive behind mimics the glow of a fireside seen through the windows, while a layer of shredded coconut stands in for snow. This façade was made by Allyson Bobbitt & Sarah Bell of Bobbette & Belle, and we’re sharing the recipe for the gingerbread and royal icing from their new cookbook, Bobbette & Belle: Classic Recipes from the Celebrate Pastry Shop. The Toronto duo provide helpful tips on how to construct your own, below.
Gingerbread & Royal Icing Tips
Here are some expert tips to ensure your gingerbread and royal icing come out great every time!
- Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone for a non-stick surface. This will ensure the gingerbread architecture easily lifts in once piece.
- Rolled gingerbread dough needs to be handled gently and require chilling time in the fridge to let the gluten strands relax. You can also freeze the dough if you make it in advance of constructing your gingerbread house.
- Royal icing is simple to make and dries hard. Start out piped with a larger piping tip and move onto a smaller tip as you get more comfortable.
- If using the royal icing immediately, keep it covered in the mixing bowl, and place it back on the mixer for a minute anytime it starts to appear spongy. If the icing has been stored for future use, beat it thoroughly by hand or place it back on the mixer and mix for a minute before using.
- If you’ve baked your gingerbread pieces but are not planning to assemble them for a few days, you can wrap them in plastic wrap and foil, then freeze.
Gingerbread Façade Instructions
- Make a house template using either cardboard or paper and place on top of rolled out dough.
- Use a sharp paring knife to cut out the shape and windows.
- Bake gingerbread until it is nice and crisp (soft ginger dough might not stand up nicely once assembled).
- Once the dough comes out of the oven and is still warm, use a sharp chef’s night to trim the edges so they are straight: this will make is easier to assemble later
- Decorate house and trees with royal icing, and allow to fully dry.
- When the royal icing is completely set, use a thick royal icing to glue your pieces together, or, if it is not being consumed, use a hot glue gun
- Stick trees to a square base and help prop them up with popsicle sticks until they set.
- To make the house, lay it flat on a table with design facing down and affix a triangle perpendicular to the back of the façade to help keep it upright.
- Let dry before standing the façade back up.