Gingerbread House Icing Tips and Royal Icing Recipe

Following my last article on gingerbread, I had a few friends asking me for my icing recipe. With so little time left over this Christmas period and in the interest of keeping it a bit interesting, here is my simple gingerbread house icing recipe used on a pre bought gingerbread house (or make your own gingerbread)  and a few notes and tips when it comes to decorating.

You will need:

  • 650g icing sugar sieved
  • 3 egg whites
  • A stand mixer or an electric hand held mixer – a must for this recipe unless you have stamina and muscles to beat your eggs for over 10 minutes (I’ve never tried this but on my muscles 10 minutes is optimistic!)

Method:

  1. In a large clean oil free bowl, whisk the egg whites until they become frothy.

  2. Add the sifted icing sugar to the egg whites, a few spoonful at a time and fold in.

  3. Beat the mixture on the lowest setting first and then turn up the speed until the icing stands up in stiff peaks.

    Royal Icing Gingerbread House
    This is what the finished icing should look like.

Tips

I love the classic look of a white gingerbread house but there are days when I fancy a bit of colour. This icing can be coloured using commercially bought gel or liquid colouring. I prefer to use gel as it doesn’t alter the consistency, but it can be harder to make the colour even. To help with this, I like to take a small amount of the icing and colour it first before incorporating to the rest of the icing that I want coloured.

Use the icing immediately. The qualities of royal icing (thats what you’ve just made)  that makes it the icing for gingerbread houses is that it dries hard and dry. This means that you need to use it immediately for best results. If there is a delay between making and using, make sure you cover it tightly with plastic, but  do try to use it up within a couple of hours or it becomes very difficult if not impossible to work with.

To save the icing before it dries up or make it a little easier to pipe with, you can loosen it up again by beating in a small amount of egg whites (but be careful not to make it too runny, a little egg white goes a long way)

Make your own piping bag. If like me you don’t own a set of piping bags (or just don’t fancy a whole load of washing up), you can put your icing into a zip lock bag, zip it up and cut a tiny hole in one corner and then pipe away (you can also add a fancy nozzle if you so desire).

If you plan to keep your gingerbread house on display beyond the day that it is assembled (especially in our tropical climate where the gingerbread can get a bit soft) my top tip to prevent crumbling disasters is to spread a layer of the icing over the back of your gingerbread and let dry before attempting the construction. This acts like scaffolding to the gingerbread and prevents it cracking and buckling under its own weight (or the weight of the copious amount of sweets that you plan to add).

Gingerbread house, reinforced with icing
Spread a layer of icing on the back to prevent the gingerbread house from breaking.

 

Building the gingerbread house. Be generous with the icing on the joins.
Building the gingerbread house. Be generous with the icing on the joins.

 

gingerbreadhouse
The gingerbread house constructed. I like to further reinforce the joins with icing “snow”, I don’t worry too much about making it too neat at this stage.

Add your sweets and decorations to the house as you go along, piped icing exposed to the air dries fast and if you wait till you’ve finished piping the goodies won’t stick.

Pipe on the details and add your goodies on as you go along.
Pipe on the details and add your goodies on as you go along.

 

Gingerbread house detailing
Ta da! the finished gingerbread house.

 

gingerbread house
Here it is from the other side.

Well, thats it from me till 2017.

Happy decorating, merry Christmas and a happy New Year x o x.

 

Image credit: Anna Hui

 

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