The renovateyourworld.com team has seen a lot of homebuilding projects come and go over the years. Because we've never all seen eye to eye on all the features of every project, in the spirit of the holidays we decided to tackle a project we could all agree on—a Gingerbread House.
To start, we created a few plans: A-Frame, Colonial, Saltbox, and Side Gable houses (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader). The renovateyourworld.com design department drew up some easy-to-follow plans that anyone can download. We collected gingerbread and icing recipes from the Internet, and began the task of gingerbread building, illustrated below:
Step 1: Budget Your Dough Roll the dough flat into a uniform thickness. Use two flat or round guides of equal height (about 3/16-inch) to help keep the dough as flat and level as possible.
Building Tip: Next time you are at the building supply or hardware store, pick up a four-foot long, 3/16-inch-diameter dowel. It will make the perfect rolling pin guide.
Step 2: Carpentry Work Starting with one of renovateyourworld.com's gingerbread house templates carefully cut the wall and roof sections from the dough. Once you have all the pieces cut out, bake the gingerbread according to your recipe.
Building Tip: Remember to make any design changes before you bake the gingerbread. Architectural adjustments ordered after the bread is baked can lead to costly overtime baking charges.
Step 3: Construction Adhesive Royal icing is the right product for assembling a gingerbread house. It is easy to make (you can find dozens of recipes online), dries hard, and remains pure white.
While the gingerbread parts are baking, mix up a batch of icing and put it in a cook's caulking gun (better known as a pastry bag).
Building Tip: Baking-site safety is a must! Some royal icing recipes use uncooked egg whites. Meringue powder (found in cake-baking stores) can be used as a substitute.
Step 4: Assemble the Sugar Shack Make a base for your gingerbread house. A flat serving platter or a piece of heavy cardboard covered in decorative paper will do.
To assemble the gingerbread house, start with one of the side pieces. Apply a bead of icing along the bottom, and place it on the base. Working with one piece at a time, apply a bead of icing along the edges of each piece to attach sides to the front of the house. "Gingerly" butt the pieces together. You can use a tall, smooth-faced object like a drinking glass to brace the house during assembly. Finish the four walls by attaching the remaining piece.
Building Tip: Put some eggnog in the drinking glass. The added weight will keep the glass from sliding.