Adriana Velez is Food Editor for SheKnows. She spent her formative years in Brooklyn, which pretty much explains everything about her. She now lives somewhere else and has discovered life after kale and kombucha. She's written for Civil ...
Yes, even you will achieve gingerbread house glory thanks to these tips
When I was a little girl, my mom would make a gingerbread house every Christmas. We would decorate it with candy and then, on Boxing Day, we would have a doll tea party and eat the house with our friends.
I've dreamed of doing the same now that I'm a mom, but it hasn't worked out. That's because I suck at building gingerbread houses. My lumpy, uneven walls refuse to join evenly and then my frosting doesn't hold and everything collapses at some point. And then I give up and just eat the pieces in defeat.
How to keep the walls upright while your icing dries
Prop your walls with cans of food, one on either side of each wall. "They're nice and sturdy so you can lean large sheets of gingerbread up against them without fear of them sliding anywhere," Sinclair says.
More tips for avoiding Collapsed Gingerbread House Syndrome
Make sure your icing is thick enough. (See the recipe for royal icing at the end of the article.) If you notice walls shifting, that means your icing is too runny, and you need to make a thicker icing. Sinclair says the recipes in her book have more tips for making sure your walls hold together well.
Make sure your dough is really, truly baked through and completely cooled. Under-baked sheets will give a bit once you start building.
If your walls are shifting, scrape off the icing, make a new batch of icing, and start again. You may also need to bake your walls a little longer.
You can also use freshly made caramel to "cement" your house together. "Work quickly and carefully," Sinclair cautions, "because it will be very hot. But it will also make your houses very sturdy. You can then decorate with icing over the top."
Beware of humidity. "Gingerbread hates it and will go soft and collapse — especially if you decorate it heavily with sweets," Sinclair says.
Be sure to display your gingerbread house in a cool spot away from direct sunlight.