Introduction: How to Make a Haunted Gingerbread House That Lights Up
Why buy a kit from the grocery store when you can make one like this that lights up! I have been making gingerbread houses for about 10 years now. I have learned a lot through the years and continue to learn new things with each year. I am no way a professional and really don't know if I am doing things the right way or not. I just do what I know works for me. I don't bake for a living and this is strictly a hobby.
Friends and family always tell me how they could never make the houses I make. However, I don't believe that. I started making them with few resources, (they weren't as available back then) and nowadays that's a different story. If I can do it with little to nothing, you can do it with a ton of something!
While it looks intimidating, I truly believe anyone can put together a house. There will be mistakes made. You will doubt yourself. But I promise almost everything that goes wrong, is fixable. Heck, I screwed up SEVERAL times for this Instructable and I've been doing this for a long time. Expect to screw up and expect to find a decorative solution to fix it. I hope the tips and tricks I have learned the last 10 years help you achieve the same results.
I have also tried my best at explaining each step as well as I can. I am a visual learner myself, so I am more prone to share images than write out a proper paragraph. If there is something that is confusing or wasn't clear enough, please let me know and I will try to fix or explain it better.
Step 1: Making the Gingerbread Dough
Please note that while the gingerbread house cookie is edible, it isn't very tasty and after being baked, is extremely hard. It's designed for gingerbread houses to withhold it's strength in humidity etc. Unless you are making houses or adorable Christmas ornaments to hang on your tree. Use a different gingerbread recipe.
You will need:
- 1/2 cup, (room temperature) unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup molasses
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon coves
- 1 teaspoon salt, (I used Kosher, but you can use regular table salt)
- 1/2 cup water, (you might need a bit more)
- 6 cups of flour
NOT NEEDED for the gingerbread dough but will need later
- 1 Egg Yolk
- 1 tablespoon Milk/Cream
I used a stand mixer with the flat beater attachment.
Cream the sugar and [room temperature] butter. I used setting 4 on my mixer and let it do it's thing for several minutes, (5 minutes or so). Please refer to the pictures to see what finished creamed sugar looks like. Beat the molasses, all the spices, and salt for a few seconds until incorporated. Add the flour, one cup at a time, while adding a bit of the water each time and let it mix well. Repeat until all flour has been incorporated. Press your finger into the dough to check how sticky it is, if it sticks to your finger it's too wet, add a bit of flour and continue mixing. If it feels really dry and crumbly, add more water. The dough should be soft and pliable and when you press your finger into dough it should come off clean.
Step 2: Making Royal Icing and the Piping Tips I Used
You will need:
- 2 lbs bag of Powdered Sugar
- 5 tablespoons of Meringue Powder
- 1 teaspoon of Cream of Tarter
- 4 oz warm water, (you might need more but just start with 4 oz)
In the main mixing bowl, (stand mixer). Add 4 oz of warm water and the meringue powder. Hand whisk for 30 seconds until it's all frothy looking.
Then add 1 teaspoon of cream of tarter and hand whisk for another 30 seconds.
Add ALL the powder sugar to the meringue power/cream of tarter mixture.
With the flat beater attachment on the lowest setting on the mixer, (Labeled as STIR on mine) mix for 10 minutes. Add any flavorings you wish at the end. I usually use peppermint extract, because it pairs nicely with the gingerbread and smells heavenly together. This is optional and not needed.
You want the icing to be pretty thick. If it's too thick, add a few drops of water at a time until it's at the desired consistency. For FLOOD icing, (what I use on the roof) I will explain in STEP 12, since you really just need thick icing for the majority of this project . If it is too thin or you added too much water, no big deal, just add more powder sugar and keeping mixing until it's all mixed in, (few minutes).
Coloring the Icing:
I use gel colors because they are superior to the thinner stuff you get at the grocery store, (colors are more vibrant, you use less to get color etc). But if that's all you have, it will still work.
I make a list of colors I will need. This is just the OCD in me. But it seems to help keeps things straight.
Then I transfer the icing to individual containers, (I used old yogurt containers). If you don't have containers that's okay. Just use a cup or small bowl, spoon enough icing that you need into the cup/bowl.Then wet a dish towel and squeeze ALL the water out. Place over the MAIN mixing bowl with the remaining icing. This will prevent the icing from drying out while you work with each color.
If you are not storing your icing into containers with lids, (as I am). You will want to transfer immediately after coloring into a piping bag, (to prevent it from drying out).
I love mixing all my colors straight off because the longer they sit the more developed the color gets. Plus it keeps things more organized. Royal icing has a pretty long shelf life. I can leave mine out for a week. It will separate slightly but just mix it back up with a spatula and it's ready to go again.
- For the white: I put the color gel on a toothpick and then just stuck it into the frosting over various spots, (one black, one brown). Then I used a spatula, (or knife/spoon) and mixed. I did not want the color to fully blend. I was going for a dirty/old off white color and wanted bits of brown and black, (grey) to show through.
- For the other solid colors: I added the food coloring and mixed with a spatula until well blended/mixed.
Adding your icing to piping bags. Here is a little trick I picked up off the internet that has worked really well for me and highly recommend.
What you'll need:
- Saran Wrap
- Piping Bags
- Various Piping tips
- Rubber Bands, (to tie off the piping bag tops)
Please refer to the images on how to for the best instruction. I'm not really sure how to explain it very well.
Lay out a piece of saran wrap. Plop a good amount of icing into the center, though not too much. It's easier to control the icing bag if it's not too full. Roll up the saran wrap, making sure you gently push out any air bubbles inside the icing out. Twist the ends of the saran wrap. Turn piping back almost all the way inside out, stick one end of the saran wrap through the coupler. Cut off excess saran wrap peeking out of the coupler. Fold up the other side into piping bag or knot it. Use rubber band to close off the piping bag top. Add your desired piping tip.
Piping tips used:
I added an image with all the sizes on it but here is a list as well.
- PME 0, 00
- WILTON 1, 2, 3, 4,18, 46, 233
- SUNNY, (hobby lobby brand) 21
Step 3: Rolling It Out
You will need:
- NON-STICK foil, (if you use regular foil it will definitely stick to your baked pieces) -or- Parchment paper
- Parchment paper, (I prefer non-stick foil. Paper tends to fly up easily while baking and bends my pieces. But you will need it for a few steps along the way. It has it's useful moments)
- Rolling Pin 1/8" -or- 1/4" wooden dowels. This is to help make sure your dough is rolled out perfectly and level). You can buy these at hobby/craft stores for pretty cheap. I used 1/8".
- Pizza cutter (Optional, pizza cutter is easiest to use on long cuts).
- Bowl with flour, (for sprinkling on dough)
- Kebab skewer or toothpick, (helps lift up small bit of dough)
- Wet rag, (I am using a roll mat. Which makes the surface sticky and helps my foil and parchment paper stay in place while I work on it. But you can wet the counter and lay your foil on top. This will prevent slipping when rolling out your dough).
Believe it or not there is a right way to roll out any cookie dough, (just ask Martha Stewart). Start in the middle of the dough, roll out in one direction. Bring your pin back to the center of the dough and then roll out in the opposite direction. You continue doing this until it's all rolled out. Sprinkle with flour first and add as needed so it's not sticking to your rolling pin. I usually roll my dough width wise first then length wise and continue rolling out until there is no more give.
Step 4: Cutting Out the Pieces
I used THIS free gingerbread house pattern. Please note, I did NOT design this pattern , (wish I was that talented). I printed them out on regular printer paper and cut out.
For the windows, I used a clay cutter, (like a cookie cutter, but much much smaller. You can find these at any craft/hobby store in the clay section). You can use anything you want. Including a knife. Or you can just pipe out some royal icing windows onto the baked gingerbread, instead of cutting anything out, (just let the cookie cool completely before icing it). I find the cutters to be convenient and the style I was going for. These are the ones I used if interested in getting a set for yourself. If you find that removing the tiny cut pieces from the dough difficult, (dough moving around or it's difficult removing etc) just put the piece in the freezer or fridge for 15 minutes. This will harden the dough enough to remove those tiny bits easily without disturbing the shape of the dough. The dough is pretty good at not spreading while baking so there is no need to chill your cut pieces to avoid that.
DON'T FORGET TO CUT OUT ANY HOLES YOU MIGHT NEED ON YOUR PIECES, TO THREAD THE LIGHTING CORD THROUGH IF YOU PLAN ON USING LIGHTS. See, I forgot this step and I had to "drill" in my holes with a knife later, after the pieces had been baked.
Once you have cut out your piece(s), gather all scraps of dough and re-roll and repeat the process until all pieces have been cut out.
Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes depending on the piece. Larger/Thicker pieces will require more time. Smaller/Thinner pieces less time. So adjust accordingly. You might want to check on your pieces halfway in. Sometimes a large bubble will pop up. I used a kebab skewer to poke it, but it's best to use a sewing sized needle. That way the hole isn't has noticeable, then continue to bake until completely baked. The more baked the cookie the stronger it will be. I almost always bake until semi burned. I live in North Texas so we have decent humidity here. It's not too bad, but it can be with rain and I've had pieces sag because of it. I prefer to over bake than not. It's really a personal preference though.
IMPORTANT. The pattern I used does not include porch siding. The pattern maker suggests using wafers. In the past of using this pattern, I have found that my porches never line up properly height wise and the wafers are just too large for everything to fit the way it should. I suggest you to skip using wafers and make gingerbread siding instead. The last picture shows how I made them. I measured out 1/2" from all the sides using the porch template on paper, cut them out, and transferred the pattern to the gingerbread etc.
Step 5: Making the Shutters
You will need:
- egg yolk & milk/cream mixture
- paint brush
Roll out the dough pretty thin. I didn't use any rolling guides. But it's almost paper thin.
Measure your baked pieces windows and cut out a piece of paper in the size you wish the shutters to be. Then transfer over to the rolled out dough. Cut out.
Then use a knife and cut all the slats. I cut completely through. Not caring if they stayed nice and neat since this was the look I was going for.
Take a small piece of dough and roll out into thin ropes with your fingers. Line it around the slats that you just cut to complete the shutter frame.
Remove some slats with the toothpick or knife if you want some of the shutters to look old and weathered.
Cut a flat piece of strip from gingerbread to put in the center of the shutters for the divider you see on real shutters.
Bake at 350F for 7 minutes.
While they are baking, mix together an egg yolk, (JUST THE YOLK) and a tablespoon of milk or cream.
Pull the semi baked shutters out at 7 minutes and take a paint brush, (I used an old brush since I don't plan on eating the house so it really doesn't matter if it's been dipped in paint or not in that case. If you do plan on eating it.. and I DON'T KNOW WHY YOU WOULD, because the dough really isn't that great tasting. You will want to use a food safe paint brush) and paint the shutters with the yolk/milk mixture. Place back in the oven and bake for another 7 minutes or until it's the color you would like, (the longer you bake the darker it gets). The egg yolk/milk give the gingerbread a shiny sheen once it's been fully baked.
Step 6: Making the Door
You will need:
- small amount of gingerbread
- knife -or- cookie cutters
- egg yolk & milk/cream mixture
First design your door with paper and cut the pieces out. Roll out a small amount of gingerbread, (thinly). Cut the pieces out. I then used my square clay cutter for the top layer of my door to add a bit of texture and dimension. Then placed it over the main door.
You can do any design/creation you want. You don't even have to use gingerbread. You can use fondant, candy, royal icing. It's really up to you. I baked the door at 350F for 7 minutes, pulled out half baked and brushed on the egg yolk/milk mixture that I used on the shutters, (step 5) and baked for another 7 minutes until it was fully baked. Set aside.
Step 7: Making the Creepy Tree
You will need:
- parchment paper
- creepy tree template
- brown stiff royal icing
First go online and google CREEPY TREE SILHOUETTES. Print and cut out the design you have picked.
Place a piece of parchment paper over the tree silhouette.
Roll out the dough with your fingers into long ropes and place over the tree design until it's all been covered, or to what you desire.
For the base of the tree, I added a layer of dough on the bottom of the tree and then added another layer of tree dough on top of that to create a thick base/root.
Then FLIP the design and do it all over again. That way they are mirrored and when glued together will fit together.
Bake at 350F for over 20 minutes. It's pretty thick so it will need a lot of time baking to dry it out. You don't want the dough to be soft once it's done baking and cooled, or it will break a part. You will want to make sure it is fully baked once it's cooled. If you have cooled it and it's still soft in the center, just put it back in the oven for another five minutes and continue this process until it's fully baked.
I used brown royal icing, (stiff) and glued them together, letting it dry over night.
NOTE: As you can tell some branches broke off. Not to fret, all you do is just glue them back on and it's set.
Step 8: Making the Tombstones and Front Porch Steps
You will need:
- small ball of gingerbread
- black food coloring
- knife -or- tombstone cookie cutter
- white stiff royal icing
Mix some black food coloring with a small ball of gingerbread dough. Do not mix all the way through if you want a marbled look, which I was going for. Roll out and cut into tombstone shapes. I made my own tombstone cookie cutter by cutting up a super cheap round cookie cutter and shaping into a tombstone shape. You can easily cut out a shape with your knife. I used another tiny cookie cutter to add some chipped detailed, (again you can do this with your knife). Then score in some words or shapes if you wish into the tombstones. Bake at 350F for 14 minutes. Once fully cooled take a blob of the white icing and smear it on the tombstones, (front, back, and sides). This will make it look more like marble and will fill in the scored words/designs and make them more noticeable. Let dry.
Front Porch Steps
Use the same gingerbread you used for the tombstones, (just leftover) shape into two rectangles. I used a cookie cutter, (of course. I'm obsessed with cookie cutters). BUT it's not needed. Just shape them into two different sized steps. Push down with your finger to make it look more like natural stone, (they are never even) and use a toothpick to score some dents into the dough. Bake at 350F for 14 minutes. Once fully cooled follow the same steps as you did for the tombstones with the icing. Let dry.
Step 9: Making the Wooden Planks
I used an embossing matto imprint the wooden design on the gingerbread, (I rolled out a piece of dough, then placed the mat fact down on the gingerbread and rolled over it with the rolling pin) then cut out into rectangles.
If you are without an embossing mat, just cut out rectangles, (use the same method you used to size the shutters in STEP 5 and make a paper template to use so you know how big you need them to be) and use your knife to score in a wood grain. Bake at 350F for 5 mins. Take out and add a light layer of the egg yolk/milk mixture, and bake for another 5 mins.
Step 10: Adding Glass to Your Windows
You will need:
- isomalt nibs
- microwave safe container
- food coloring, (if you want to color your windows)
- toothpick -or- kebab to stir in color
- non-stick foil -or- parchment paper
You can use crushed candy, (crush candy in a ziploc bag with a hammer. Put the crushed candy inside the holes of the windows and re-bake until melted) or make your own using a corn syrup recipe. I have done both. I really like the corn syrup method, (I have provided a link to the one I have used and loved). But this year I wanted to try something new usingIsomalt nibs. It was really easy to use, (just use a microwave) which I LOVED. But it's expensive and I'm not sure I will be using it after I use it all up. A word of caution if you plan on using crushed candy. For some reason or another if you live in a high humid area or it freak rains a few days. Your windows will start to melt. Yeah, no fun. I guess you could try sugar-free candy. I have heard from others that they don't melt in humid weather, but I have not tested it myself, (isomalt is sugar free).
I was originally going to keep the glass clear and use an orange/yellow light inside the house. But my son thought it would be neat if I made it look like there was blood dripping all over the glass. I had never tried just adding a tiny bit of color to the candy. Not saying it was a success, but that's the story if you are curious why the glass is all different colors, (some deep red, some pink. some with the red swirls).
I followed the directions on the Isomalt nibs and poured them into my windows. ALSO you will want to lay your pieces on non-stick foil, parchment paper, or a roll mat / silpat ,(they are both the same thing, except a roll mat is much larger and doesn't fit on any baking sheets). It will stick if it's anything else. Let it fully cool before you pick the pieces back up.
Step 11: Making Iron Roof Cresting
You will need:
- wax paper
- black stiff royal icing
- piping tip 1
- iron fence template
This is a super delicate part of making this gingerbread house. I suggest you wait until you are almost done with your house to make this part. I googled IRON FENCE TEMPLATES. Found one I liked and printed it out. You might need to resize the image, (I do this in the printing option, where it shows what percentage size it's printing at. Usually it's set at 100%. I change it to 50% etc until it's the size I want). I took one of the roof pieces to show how large it would look next to the finished product.
Then you will use SUPER STIFF royal icing. DO not use flood consistency icing. Also use the smallest piping tip you can use. I used a Wilton 1 here. Lay a piece of wax paper over the template. Then you trace the iron fencing with your icing tip. Move your wax paper around as you make more fences. I made all different sizes because I wasn't sure which size I would need, I suggest you do the same. I also made a ton of extras. Due to a previous experience of making these, I know how delicate they are and will fall apart easily if not handled well. YOU WANT EXTRAS.
LET THEM DRY OVER NIGHT! Do not get excited and try to use them within a few hours.
To remove from wax paper, slowly and very very gently, peel them away from the wax paper. You will need these in STEP 17. I would personally wait to add them as the VERY last step to making this house. That's how delicate they are.
Step 12: Flood Icing on Top of Roof Pieces
You will need:
- black flood consistency royal icing
- piping tip 0 or 1
- piping tip 4
Flood consistency is royal icing thinned with water. Thispost on this blog explains it way better than I can, (with video).
In a mixing cup/bowl add a little bit of your black frosting, (the stiff royal icing you made earlier). And start to add 1/8 tsp of water at a time, mixing the icing until it's consistency is of super thick soup. Then you will outline your pieces with the icing and fill it in, (I used a tip 0 to outline and a tip 4 to fill in). Then I gently shook the cookie to even out the icing. LET DRY over night.
Step 13: Decorating the Porch Siding
You will need:
- fondant, (purchased at any craft/hobby store and Wal-Mart)
- food coloring, (I used black, brown, yellow)
- pizza cutter -or- knife
- white stiff royal icing
- rolling pin, (I'm using a fondant rolling pin)
- gloves, (optional. It helps from the food coloring staining your hands while you knead the fondant)
If you missed the info on how to make the porch siding out of gingerbread, SEE STEP 4. The pattern pieces are not included in the gingerbread house template you downloaded, so I made my own.
Color several balls of fondant in various colors of your choosing. I picked dark, medium, and light grey, (I mixed black, brown, and yellow food coloring into the different shades of grey). Use powder sugar to prevent sticking to the counter/table while you roll out your fondant. Once it's rolled out, take your knife or pizza cutter, your ruler and start to cut thin strips of fondant. Then do this again in the opposite direction to create brick sized bricks. I also made sure to make them at all different lengths to add more texture to the finished design. After I cut it the first time, I realized my brick sizes were still too large for my side porch siding than I would have liked, so I used a knife and cut them even thinner, (picture). Then you add the royal icing to your porch pieces and layer on your bricks. Let it dry for several hours.
Step 14: Making Porch Columns
You will need:
- cutting board
- various colors of royal icing
The gingerbread house pattern I used recommends using pretzel rods. Which is a great idea for the porch columns. I just wanted something different. I have also used old fashioned candy canes in the past, (you can get them online or Cracker Barrel). They are straight, not curved like a traditional candy cane. Just use a hack saw or serrated knife to cut into the size you want.
Roll out a rope of gingerbread. I made sure to make it pretty thick. Then I cut them into 2 1/2" pieces. Baked them at 350F for 18 - 20 minutes. I can't remember how long they took but I made sure they were almost burned, (it's stronger). After they were done baking I trimmed the ends flat with my knife. Then I took a little bit of my icings in all colors and added them all over the rods with my fingers. I was trying to go for a weathered, old, mossy, looking column. I'm not sure if I succeeded but I did end up loving the look. Then I let them dry.
Thinking back on it now. I pretty much just made salt free gingerbread flavored pretzel rods lol and covered them in icing. SO it might be easier to get the pretzels and just ice them to make them more decorative haha. Oh well, live and learn!
Step 15: Decorating the Main Pieces
You will need:
- your baked gingerbread pieces
- royal dirty/off white icing, (or whatever color you have picked for your main house color)
- piping bag
- baked shutters and wooden planks
- black royal icing, (for the wooden boards on windows)
- greenish/grey royal icing, (for the window frames)
- piping tip 46
- piping tip 1
First I scored some marks into my gingerbread pieces, (with a knife) around my windows. I used this as a template to help remind me not to go past that line with frosting. This is an optional step and if you want to wing it. Be my guest. I have found it to be helpful in the past.
Using tip 46, I used the FLAT side of the tip and started icing long strips of siding into the house pieces. Making sure to slightly overlap with each line. You will want to start from the bottom to the top.
I also made a mistake in my images. I have added a note to show where I screwed up. As you can tell I didn't ice the entire cookie and that is on purpose. In the beginning when I was making gingerbread houses I would always ice the entire cookie. However, when I started putting them together, I found that houses with porches or connecting rooms etc were hard to fit together properly due to the icing. Now, I always make sure that I leave those areas free of icing. I have tried my best to show you what areas should be free of icing. Please read the notes on the 9th or 10th image so you won't leave a spot un-frosted.. LIKE I DID.
Continue frosting all pieces and let dry over night. You can also start adding the window frames right away. I used a different icing color with icing tip size 1. I doubled the lines. I didn't really show that step but you can tell in the final images that the window frames have double the lines.
Now is a good time to add your shutters and wooden planks to the windows. Don't forget to add the black nails on your wooden planks.
Step 16: Putting the House Together
Want to hear a secret? I use hot glue to piece my house together. Yup. True story. You know what else? It's awesome! For years I had done it the old fashioned way and every once awhile if the house is not majorly complicated, (as in a roof, two sides, front and back pieces) I will use royal icing to glue my house together. Naturally, if you plan on gifting a house you should either tell that person you added hot glue or glue it with royal icing. Some people like to eat gingerbread houses. I can't fathom why to be honest. The cookie has been sitting out for weeks, maybe months, attracting all kinds of god knows what to it's surface, (it's not like it's been in a plastic cover the entire time). Then there is the fact that the cookie dough used in most gingerbread houses, (even the store bought ones) are made for building and are designed to be hard and taste like cardboard. They smell fantastic though. For it to be confused with a legit gingerbread cookie that is meant to be consumed, no, just.. no. With that said. If you want to go and be an overachiever and use royal icing. BE. MY. GUEST. The instructions STILL apply to you royal icing users. The only difference is that the drying times are greatly extended and you should probably put it together at your kitchen table where you can sit on your butt and hold each piece until it's dry enough to not move around. Hot glue gun users. You will be able to put your house together in less than two hours that and it's super duper strong stuff. Royal icing is just as strong once it has dried.
You will need:
- High Temp Glue Gun, (I use a cordless and love it). I have never tried low temp. Not sure if it will hold just as strong, so I am going to play it safe and say high heat.
- glue sticks and lots of them
- SUPER DUPER STIFF royal icing. The stiffer the better.
- piping bag with piping tip --
- 1/2" foam board, (or some other sturdy surface to hold your house)
- battery operated lights, (purchased for $4 at Wal-Mart)
- box cutter
- cutting mat -or- cardboard box
NOTE: If you are going the royal icing route. You want your icing SUPER STIFF. We are talking almost dry. Lay it on thick and use cans on both sides of the wall when you are putting up the main walls of the house, (I included pictures just for you guys). You will want to let that set for a few hours before removing the cans and continuing on. You can use the cans to hold up each piece so your arms won't get tired but keep checking on it for the first 10 mins, like you would a newborn, to make sure it hadn't shifted any. Once it set, it's set. When you get to the roof, you will need to find a comfortable spot to sit and hold your roof, (with your bare hands) for 15 mins or so until the icing starts to stick to the gingerbread. Don't disturb it for several hours once it has "soft set", as it will move around if you do. Once fully dry it's safe to decorate. All the directions below still apply to you on how to attach the house together.
Getting the wall ups:
First thing you will do is find something to put your house on. It needs to be pretty sturdy. I love foam board. I used a pretty thin foam board, (1/4") for this project, only because I was cheap and didn't want to drive all the way to the store to get the 1/2" foam board I normally use. It worked out okay. But I still recommend using the thicker one. I measure out my house. And if you printed out the house I provided a link for, I can tell you right now the dimensions are 10 1/2" X 7 1/2". You're welcome. Anyway, you want to add extra space for decorations if you plan on doing them. I made a tree and some tombstones so I need some space. I ended up making my board 14 3/4" X 12" to accommodate them. I used a box cutter to cut out my board, (make sure you have a cutting mat or something underneath so you don't cut your counter top/table). I took the main house pieces, (the main four = front, back, left and ride sides) and marked on the board where I will place them. Then I hot glued them on. This is why I LOVE hot glue. It dries within minutes. Where icing takes HOURS upon HOURS!
Hold the single piece of gingerbread up until the glue starts to cool, making sure you keep it as straight as possible. You don't want to get distracted watching junk TV while holding it and not paying attention. I blow on it for extra measure. I'm not sure it helps, but I do it anyway.
! IMPORTANT ! Notice how the side walls butt up against the front wall? They are inside the front wall. Not outside, (see diagram [last image] I made to show what I am referring to). You want to make sure that your wall pieces are correct when piecing together.
Once it's cooled, it's time to add the second piece, (one of the sides). Once again make sure it's straight. Hold until the glue has cooled. Then reinforce the seams inside the house with more hot glue/royal icing. This just makes it extra sturdy. If you live in a high humidity area this is a crucial step. DO. NOT. SKIP. IT., (that includes royal icing users!)
Now, you have two walls up and it's time to add the third wall. If you look in the picture you will see a little bit of hot glue overlap. If you leave it, it will interfere with the piece setting up nicely next to the other piece. I take my hot glue gun and just lay the hot tip on top of that blob to melt it, then I scrape off the melted glue with my knife, (royal icing users will remove this bit before it full dries the same way with a knife). Then attach the other side the same way as the others. Repeat the process for the rest of the pieces. Removing any glue that is in the way with the hot glue gun/knife etc. And remember to reinforce all inside seams of the house.
If you are using lights:
I taped my light cord down with scotch tape to keep flat while I hot glued the house piece on top of it. Also, I made another mistake. I blame my super active 7 year old son for distracting me. But I forgot to add the HOLES for the lights when I cut out my pieces. Hopefully, you read and caught my mistake in Step 4. If you didn't ::high five for being awesome like me::. You can use a knife and carefully drill a hole out. It sounds scary but it's not that bad. Just be careful and gentle while holding your pieces while drilling out your hole. Loop your lights through the holes, (as pictured).
Putting the porch together:
The porch did not line up perfectly for me. If that is the case with you, here is how I fixed it. Thankfully it's an easy fix. Take a serrated knife and gently saw where you need to cut, (refer to the images to see how I did it). Very easy to hide the seams, so don't worry about it showing later.
To attach the porch, lay the porch gingerbread piece on the board where it belongs and trace around it with a pencil. This will be your glue line guide. This makes it super easy to figure out where it needs to go, (picture provided, image 34 & 35).
Once you have done that, simply take away your porch and glue the lines and add the porch siding to it's assigned spot. Then glue the top edges of the porch siding and attach the porch floor to it.
You will add the columns next. I tested out my columns first to make sure they were the right height and quickly realized they were a tad bit too short. I ended up piping a bit of royal icing on the porch floor and let them dry for a few hours. When they dried I just glued the columns on to them and let them dry before adding the roof.
If you have problems getting the porch roof to fit perfectly you can use your knife and carve out any problem areas that prevent you from matching your pieces nicely together, (picture provided where I had to carve out a spot for a shutter that was in the way). Reinforce your roof piece with some glue along the edge that touches the house, (see image for reference)
Start adding the decorative border:
You will want to start adding the decorative piping icing for the outside seams of the house. I used piping tip 21 doing a "shell" border. HERE is a link of a tutorial of how to do it from the Wilton website. I only do the bottom half, (the part that will be under the porch roof first. After I have place the porch roof I can finish the decorative border on the rest o the house).
Putting the roofs together:
This is a super tricky step. I first glue two pieces together and while the glue is still warm try to line them up as evenly as I can. If you look at the images for this step you will notice that the top edges of the roof are a perfect "L" shape. You want to see that. If it's a crooked L fix it! Then let it cool. I reinforce the seams and continue on to the next side of the roof. If the roof is smaller, (like the entry way roof) I just glue it straight on to the house and add the pieces as I go along. I reinforce by hot gluing the seams, (picture provided).
You will see gaps and it might not fit right on the house like you hoped and that's okay, even if you used royal icing to glue it together, because it will be covered by shingles so it's all good. Once the roof sides are up and fully set, I glue the flat part of the roofs on.
Step 17: Decorating the Roof
You will need:
- black food coloring
- rolling pin
- powder sugar
- cookie/clay cutter -or- knife
- royal icing
- piping tip 2 or 3
- small bowl/cup
- paint brush
- your iron cresting you made earlier
I used these cuttersto cut out my shingles. You don't need them.You can make your own using a coke can. Just cut open the coke can and trim off a thin strip of can and shape into the shape you want. Be careful, it's sharp. This is what I used to do before I broke down and bought the cutters. I won't lie because doing it the coke can way takes FOREVER. If you don't want to buy the cutters or bother with the coke can. You can use other things for shingles. Some of my favorites are cereal, (Wheat Chex is a big one for me), Almond Slices, (found next to the chocolate chips in the baking aisle), Chewing gum strips, (though the price could add up on that). Or you could just use fondant and cut out into squares or rectangles like you did with the porch siding. Candy. Icing. etc. The options are endless.
I colored some fondant black and rolled out thin. Cut the shingles out and rolled up any leftovers and re-rolled and made more shingles. Dust with powder sugar to prevent sticking, (rolling out as well).
Adding shingles to the roof is easy as pie. Start from the BOTTOM and pipe out a line, (I use whatever piping icing I have left over or not going to use. In fact, I used two different colors icing my shingles on in this project). Add one shingle at a time and repeat the process until you get to the top. Make sure you overlap the shingles, (I've included a diagram in the images). Once you get to the top, you will cut your shingles in half and glue them on to the edge of the roof, (see picture). I save my corners for last. I didn't show a picture of it, (sorry) but it's the same process, Start from the bottom, work yourself to the top and overlap the shingles etc.
Once all your shingles are attached you will want to wet a paint brush and wet all the shingles. This makes the fondant darker and shiny. Let it dry a bit.
Then you will get a small bowl and add a bit of green and brown icing and a few drops of water. Grab a scruffy brush and DAB it into the icing mixture, (do NOT swirl.. you want the brown and green to stay a separate color not blend into one). Dab it onto the roof, (NO SWIRLING!). It adds aging and weathering to the shingles. Don't forget to repeat the process to the very tops of the roofs as well.
The final step should really be the final step. As in after you have completed the landscaping and the ONLY THING left to do is to add the iron roof cresting. I added it here to keep it organized and easy to find. Pipe on some icing onto the edge of the roof top and very carefully and gently press the iron crest into the icing. Repeat the process for the rest of the roof top until it's all completed.
Step 18: Adding the Landscaping
You will need:
- fully baked creepy tree
- fully baked tombstones
- fully baked porch steps
- hot glue -or- royal icing
- brown royal icing
- green royal icing
- spatula -or- knife
- black sanding sugar
- piping tip 233
- piping tip 21
Add the tree by gluing the base onto the board. Once the glue has set you can start to add brown icing to the board.
I spread a thin layer of brown icing ALL OVER the board. Then I add dabs of the green icing and dab and/or swirl my spatula/knife around making texture for ground/grass. I then use piping tip 233 to recreate grass. In STEP 2, I showed you how I put two icings together to create a 3D look to icing. This is what I used it for, (that and the final decorative border icing I did along the board). To make the grass long, PUSH out some frosting without touching the board, hovering over the board a bit. Once it gets long enough shake your bag firmly a bit and the icing should fall right onto the board in a heap of grass. You can also touch the board with the tip and push out icing to create several different looks of grass. I placed them anywhere and everywhere. Focusing on areas that needed to be covered, (seams of the porch siding where there is no icing or bricks etc). I also used the grass piping to glue the steps to the house and glue the tombstones to the ground. Along the tree base.
I used black sanding sugar. Ice the pathway and spread it with your finger or spatula, (no picture of that, sorry). Stick a piece of wax paper under the board to collect any stray sanding sugar that might fall off. Add the sanding sugar and press down gently with your fingers to make sure it all sticks flat. Then let it dry over night. Use a dry paint brush to brush off all the loose sanding sugar bits once it's dried.
Adding Texture to the porch floors:
I also spread black royal icing all over the porch floors, (front porch and the porch on the side of the house) and let it dry over night. The next day I added white, then brown icing and smeared it together, let it dry for about 20 mins. Then I used a wet q-tip and started to rub off a lot of the icing to make the porch look weathered and old, (my main theme apparently).
You will then add the decorative border around the board. For some reason I did not take a picture of this step but I added a close up shot of the decorative border. I used piping tip 21 with the same icing I used for the grass, (I just switched out the tips) and used the Shell style decorative border.
Step 19: Making Owl and Pumpkins
THE VERY last step. Can you believe it? Anyway, I really wanted to add a bit more details to my house and I thought an owl and some pumpkins would be appropriate. Here the steps to make them.
You will need:
- food coloring
- clay sculpting tools -or- pencil eraser/fingers
- scribe tool -or- toothpick
- powder sugar
- small pair of scissors
- wet Q-tip
First, I colored my fondant in several different colors, Orange, dark brown, medium brown, light brown, black, and white.
Cut a toothpick in half and roll up two white balls. One larger than the other. Shape the large one into a slight tear drop shape and keep the smaller one round. Push the toothpick through the tear drop shaped ball and set aside.
Using your fingers or a clay smoothing tool push in two indention on the small ball. Add a bit of the light brown fondant into the indention and smooth out flat with the tool or your fingers. Repeat with the black but making sure the black is smaller than the light brown.
Roll up two tiny tiny tinnnnnny white balls and attach to the eyes.
Take a small bit of orange fondant and roll into a point. Cut the very tip off to make a small beak and attach to the face, in between the eyes.
Roll out a thin rope of medium brown fondant and line the face in a heart shape pattern.
For the feet, roll out some small orange oval fondant balls and SUPER DUPER tiny black slices. Attach three oval balls together and press/pinch them together. Add the black bits to the end, (the talons) with a toothpick and repeat the process for the second foot. Wet bottom of body with a wet q-tip and attach feet to body.
Take a pair of small scissors and cut into the white tear dropped ball to create feathers
Attach head to tear drop shape body
Roll out three colors of fondant, (dark brown, medium brown, and light brown) into long ovals. Pinch them together. Use a wet q-tip to help glue them together if you have problems getting them to stick together. Then attach to the body, (these are the wings).
Attach owl to the tree using some icing, (or hot glue)
Roll some gingerbread with your fingers into some thin ropes and shape into stems or vines. Bake for 10 mins at 350F
Roll fondant into different sizes of balls using orange fondant. Using a toothpick or scribe tool, (as I did) create the lines around the ball to texture it into a pumpkin.
Using a pencil eraser or a clay sculpting tool, make an indention into the center. Attach the stems to the pumpkins.
Attach pumpkins where you want them around your house, (I put some on the porch and some in the yard) with icing or hot glue.
YOU'RE DONE!!! I hope this tutorial was helpful to creating your own amazing Haunted Gingerbread House.