CEP’s Guide to Crafting Your Perfect Gingerbread House!

By Elliott Teyssere, M.Sc. and Ashley-Lucy Ranaudo, P.Eng.

Construction guide for a perfect gingerbread house part 1Construction guide for a perfect gingerbread house part 2Construction guide for a perfect gingerbread house part 3

CEP’s Guide to Crafting Your Perfect Gingerbread House!

Creating the perfect gingerbread house can be a delightful yet complicated process. Maybe even frustrating if you have a penchant for excellence! But fear not, perfectionists – this year, CEP has your back!

While building the perfect gingerbread house might appear simple, its delicious construction hides complexities in the tiny details.

Armed with good humor and patience, let’s explore the different stages of construction:

Step 1: Construction Materials

Gingerbread needs to withstand the structural stresses imposed by the weight of the roof and your favourite decorations. Aim for a slab that is sturdy enough to prevent your structure from cracking under its own weight.

CEP’s tip: the dough should be just dry enough to roll out, too much flour and it can turn brittle!

Icing is the mortar joining your structural elements together: it must be fluid enough to be handled with ease during construction, then harden to ensure the stability of your structure. The joints between the walls and the roof are often the weak points of a gingerbread house; so the right icing is an essential element in construction.

CEP’s tip: Royal icing is a stronger and more solid finish than buttercream icing. It will ensure a sturdy connection between your structural elements.

Step 2: Material Preparation

Add your icing to a piping bag so it’s easy to spread along the joints of your house.

Prepare the four walls: two gable walls and two side walls, as well as the two roof sections of your house on a flat surface, ideally a tray. This ensures you can safely move your completed house once it’s built.

CEP’s Tip: unlike a construction site, it is extremely important to taste your materials. Just make sure you have enough left over to build your gingerbread house!

Step 3 : Building the base

It’s usually easier to build with a second set of hands, so grab some hot chocolate and your nearest friend to help hold up the sides while you put everything together.

Prepare one of the side walls by adding icing to its base and to the edge of one of its sides to join it to one of the gable walls. Repeat with the second side wall.

Add icing to the opposite edge of the two side walls, then join the second gable wall to close the base of the structure.

Use some extra icing at the base of the four walls to make sure everything is stuck together and sturdy.

CEP’s Tip: pay attention to the placement of the walls so that the roof can be installed without any problem during the next step.

Step 4: Building the roof

Add icing to the sloped upper edge of the two gable walls and to the upper edge of the two side walls. Use lots! Unlike real buildings, ice dams along roof overhangs lend an elegant touch to your construction… without the potential of causing a loss!

Install the two roof sections so that they contact the edges of the gable and side walls, then add icing to the roof ridge.

CEP’s Tip: if the structure seems fragile, you can support it with steel or wooden brackets commonly used on construction sites, or maybe using toothpicks or popsicle sticks. Whatever is handy… Just place them against the walls as temporary supports while waiting for the icing to dry.

Step 5: Decorate and Enjoy

Here comes the fun part! After completing the structure, let your creativity shine by embellishing it with icing and extra cookies. Craft a charming door, add whimsical windows, or perhaps include some reindeer on the rooftop.

Last but not least: enjoy with your family!

CEP’s Tip: for the more adventurous, test the resistance of your house to vertical loads by adding whipped cream snow to the roof, or assessing its waterproofness with a drizzle of maple syrup. Proceed with caution and be mindful of potential collapses!

Now that you have all the ingredients and instructions to build the perfect gingerbread house, it’s your time to shine at your holiday gatherings!

CEP wishes you a holiday season filled with both joy and delicious moments!

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