Tip 7: When making royal icing, I always make the version with meringue powder.
So easy, so dependable! But for good measure, here is the recipe with egg whites
- 6 egg whites
- 1 t cream of tartar
- 2 lb (1 bag) powdered sugar
- ½ t clear artificial vanilla
- Pour egg whites into an impeccably clean mixing bowl, free from all traces of grease. Add the sugar and cream of tartar and vanilla. Mix on medium speed for 10-15 minutes, until the icing is stiff. A stand mixer is also very helpful here.
- To prevent crusting over, keep the bowl covered with a wet cloth at all times. Be sure all utensils used to mix and store royal icing are free from any traces of grease. This is critical, as even the smallest trace of fat means that the icing will not set.
Mix up a big batch, and prevent it from crusting over by putting a wet towel over the bowl.
If you’re going to assemble more than one house, use a large disposable pastry bag. You want to have to refill as infrequently as possible.
KopyKake brand is vastly preferable to Wilton brand for disposable bags. You’ll have to order online or go to a cake decorating store to find the KopyKake brand, however. (Buy them here) It’s not available at the big craft stores. I’d choose parchment paper cones over the Wilton disposable cones. I’ve had too many of them burst at the seams.
Tip 8: Cake circles make perfect, pretty bases for small houses.
Yes, I buy them 100 at a time. We’re that serious about gingerbread. You can buy them here.
For larger houses, I cut cardboard boxes into rectangles, and cover with freezer paper, dull side out. It makes a nice, snowy white, inexpensive base. While it’s not strictly necessary to make the house on a base, it’s much sturdier, and I love having room to landscape around my gingerbread houses.
Tip 9: Especially if you’re going to make multiple houses, seriously consider an A-frame design.
Not only does it look cute and germanic, it’s also super easy to assemble!
My husband’s job, holding the first two pieces for me:
And then it stands up on its own while I assemble the rest:
If you’re going to make more elaborate designs, especially ones with four walls and a roof, assemble in stages. Adhere the walls together, and prop them in place with cans, just like Paula figured out. DON’T add the roof yet! Wait a few hours, come back, and then you can add the roof. Be sure your royal icing is nice and thick, especially if you have a steep pitch to your roof, and if possible, stack cans to reach right under the eaves, to hold the roof in place should it start to slip before the icing sets up.