It's a pity but this gingerbread is not for eating. It looks enticing, smells seasonal, and is strong and light for cave-in-proof house construction.
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 teaspoons ginger
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3+ cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup+ water
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Cream the butter and sugar.
Beat in the corn syrup, ginger, cinnamon and salt.
Add the flour, vanilla and water gradually, alternating between them.
Knead the dough, adding more flour or water as needed. The dough should be stiff enough to roll out.
Roll to 1/8" thick on a floured surface.
I lay the top of my pieces (less floury) into the bottom of my gingerbread house moulds, press them in with my fingers, then lay my moulds on a baking sheet. If you don't have a gingerbread house mould, you can lay your shapes directly on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet.
Bake for 10 min. or until there are no soft spots.
Cool thoroughly before removing from moulds.
Use a pastry brush or clean microfiber cloth to remove excess flour from the presentation sides of your pieces.
Royal Icing for Piping
A spatula stuck upright into this construction and decorating icing should remain standing.
1/2 cup egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
8 cups icing sugar (may use less)
Beat the egg whites until frothy.
Add the cream of tartar.
With the mixer on slow speed, gradually add the icing sugar.
Beat on medium for 2-4 min., scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally, until the icing is bright white, light and fluffy.
Fill a piping bag and cover with a damp cloth. Before working, I cut off the tip of the piping bag to about 1/4".
Royal Icing for Flooding
For the flooding decorating technique, icing should be the consistency of syrup.
Pipe a little of your Royal Icing for Piping into a small bowl.
Stir in some water, drop by drop. You will know you have achieved the desired consistency when icing lifted up from the bowl then dripped back in will disappear into the surrounding icing in about 10 seconds.
Candies and Decorations
I don't pick my favourite candies to eat (chocolate, chocolate, chocolate). Instead I pick ones that will lend a fairy-tale quality to my Gingerbread House.
2 sizes of multi-coloured jujubes
mixed hard candies
I even add a plastic Happy Holidays sign
I find both the licorice sticks and the plastic sign need to be abraded before application in order to stick properly. I use a box grater on the licorice and sandpaper on the sign.
Decorate Your House Walls
It's easier to decorate the walls and door when they are lying flat.
Drop small amounts of Flood Icing into the centre of window panes and spread the icing out to the edges with a toothpick.
Outline the windows with lines of swirled, piped icing then arrange candies around the windows.
Pipe a tiny swirl of icing onto the door where the knob should be and attach a candy.
Let all the icing on your walls and door harden completely, perhaps 30 min., before assembling.
Construct Your House
Yes, this is the tricky part...
Pipe a line of icing along the bottom edge of your front wall. Centre the wall firmly onto one side of your base and support it gently on the inside with a can of beans (ha!).
Pipe a line of icing down the front side edge of a side wall and along the bottom edge too. Press down onto the base and sideways into the front wall, forming a right angle. Support with another can of beans if necessary.
Repeat with the other side wall.
After running a line of icing along the back of the side edges and along the bottom edge of the far wall, press the far wall firmly onto the base and against the sides.
Finesse these four walls into a solid rectangle.
Let the walls harden into place for 30 min.
Pipe a line of icing along the slanted top edges of the front and far wall panels. Press one roof panel into place and hold it steady for 30 seconds. Attach the second roof panel and hold both in place for another 30 seconds. Pipe a line along the ridge of the roof to cement the two panels together. Let the whole house dry for 30 min.
This is what you've been waiting for!
Pipe a line of icing along licorice sticks that you've cut to the right sizes and cover up house seams (except the roof ridge).
Pipe a line of icing along the bottom and the hinge side of the door and set it into place.
Pipe swirls of icing along the footing of the house and add candies.
Pipe a swirl of icing snow along the top of the door.
Pipe swirls along the ridge of the roof and along the eaves. Decorate with candies.
Pipe a frame onto the side of the roof and insert your sign to wish Happy Holidays to your family and friends (just as I wish for you!)