Tips & Tricks

Gingerbread Tips & Tricks

Even veteran gingerbread cooks can benefit from these simple insider tips & tricks to aid in making the perfect gingerbread…..or simply avoiding disaster!..

Mixing Ingredients

Gingerbread ingredients

It is best to melt the butter VERY slowly over a warm plate of steaming water – this avoids too much fat separation and helps the consistency of the final product.

Stir the ingredients slowly to avoid air bubbles – these will expand and deform the dough when in the oven.

Perfect Dough

  • Firstly, when kneading, avoid ‘folding’ it too many times – again, this will cause air bubbles.
  • The ideal dough is soft but not sticky – if it is too sticky add more flour.
  • When kneading & rolling out, make sure to dust the surface of your (clean) kitchen counter top AND your roller with flour.
  • The easiest way to get a square shape is to roll from the edges outward rather than from the middle.

Using templates

Gingerbread House Templates

Before placing the template on the dough you may want to dust the surface of the dough lightly with flour to avoid the paper sticking to it. A little stickiness is good so the paper stays in the right spot, but you don’t want it so sticky it lifts up the dough when you try to remove the template.

Using toothpicks to prick holes through the paper is by far the easiest way – if you try to cut through the paper with a knife or pizza cutter it will move and crinkle.

Cooking

Gingerbread house baking

  • Best to use the middle of the oven or better still a convection oven that circulates the hot air evenly.
  • Remember – small pieces cook quicker than large pieces so keep watching and remove them first if necessary.
  • If the pieces curl up during cooking, don’t panic – simply lift them from the cookie sheet and flatten them out before putting them on a cooling rack.

Royal icing – The ‘Glue’!

ALWAYS make sure your Royal Icing is very thick and stiff – it will help with keeping the pieces together. You can do this simply by adding more icing sugar and whisking for longer.
Don’t worry about the leftover going hard – if you wet a cloth, wring it out thoroughly and then place it over the top of the bowl, the icing will remain good.
NEVER put the icing in the fridge – it will melt!

Assembly

We have found that the simplest and best ‘base’ is a piece of cardboard cut to the shape and size you want and then covered in tin foil.

It is better to have too much icing than too little! Making a large area of thick icing for the base of the house works well especially if you leave it to get a little hard first before assembling the walls.

Line the pieces like glue and use the Royal icing liberally and don’t worry about it seeping through edges – this can be a decorative effect later.

Assemble the pieces from the ground up and use supports where necessary.
Note that the quicker you put the walls together, the more chance it won’t fall down.
You can wait 10 minutes or so to put the roof on but just make sure your piping bag is closed and the nozzle covered with a damp cloth.

Decorating

gingerbread house decorationgingerbread house details

  • Smaller, more colorful candies/ sweets are best – avoid hard candies as they tend to ‘melt’ and fall off!
  • Try to keep your design simple and colorful with symmetric patterns, lines and shapes – if you don’t it can end up looking a bit messy.
  • Use figurines or toys where appropriate to liven up the area.
  • You can create wonderful icicle effects by make a squidge of icing on the edge of the roof and then quickly pulling down the icing bag to leave a pointed edge.
  • Snow can be created by using icing sugar and a small sieve to tap over the area.

If you have any ideas or suggestions feel free to send us a comment.

 

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