Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How to Construct a Gingerbread House: Part 3

     Now that the roof has set up overnight on top of the sides, the only thing left to do is accessorize your gingerbread house. I first put the trees on. The trees with the pretzel rod trunk need a little special attention. Since I use a cake board for my gingerbread houses, I cut a small circle out of the board where the pretzel rod will fit. After dry fitting it, I remove it, fill the hole with royal icing and put the trunk back in. I then put a ring of royal icing around the base. This gives it extra stability. The flat siting trees can just go on the board with a rim of royal icing along the bottom.
     Since all my gingerbread houses are made for Christmas, I like to cover my board with "snow". I make a thin border all around the 4 sides to hold the icing in, using a #3 tip with my pastry bag. I then thin royal icing out to pouring consistency, and pour it all over the board, letting it flow right up to the house. Then I place my trees, bridges or other landscaping down right into the thin layer of royal icing that I poured. You need to work quickly and know where you want to place everything as the royal icing begins to set immediately and if you start moving things around, you can end up with a mess. Again, this is where a dry fitting will come in handy.
     With our cabin in the woods, my daughter wanted a stream and pond. We have down water before and there are numerous ways to achieve the look. You can easily color piping gel blue and put it on your board, ringing it with candies or mini marshmallows. You can also melt crushed blue hard candies on a cookie sheet covered with a silpat, but you have less control over the shape. You can move the melted candy around with a spatula as soon as it comes out of the oven but you literally have seconds to work before the candy hardens. For our cabin, I saw some tiny flat pieces of mirror at the craft store and bought some small squares and an oval. I put the squares in a line right onto my royal icing covered board and at the end of the line, I put the oval. I then placed the bridge right over the line of squares so it looked like a bridge over a stream that ended at a pond. I then ringed the whole thing with my chocolate river rocks. (The same rocks that I used to cover the chimney.)
     I put my snowman in, the pile of logs next to the front steps and my well with bucket. On the front porch, I placed the chairs and a broom. On the roof, I put a ladder and a sugar Santa popping out of the chimney and a small string of lights. We added a wreath on the door and some poinsettias over the windows. I then sprinkled confectionery sugar over it all to simulate snow and even placed footprints in the royal icing from the porch steps to the bridge. I added a store bought deer (the only non edible thing besides the lights) and we were done.
     I hope you enjoyed this as much as we did. Tomorrow, the gingerbread house goes off to school and will go home with a lucky little boy or girl right before the holidays.
     I have attached a link to the recipe I use for construction grade gingerbread but there are many out there on the Internet.
Bridge with mirror stream and pond
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