I just tried my first house and when I put the roof on it wouldn't sit, it kept sliding down, then the weight of it made the centre dip inwards and the roof piece broke!
I have bought houses for the last 5 years made by a german lady, hers didn't have any support under the roof pieces, what did I do wrong? There are so many beautiful houses (mansions even!) on CC, if anyone can give me a few pointers, I would be so grateful!
How big house do you try to make?
You don't need any fixed supports, but you need temporary supports - till the RI hardens.
How to construct a gingerbread house:
Bake the parts. When you take it out of the oven, go once again over the parts with the pattern and trim any misshapen parts - it is easy to do when the gingerbread is still warm. Let it cool. For decorating, it is better to let the gingerbread "breathe out" for 2 days, decorating fresh gingerbread could mean that the RI decorations will come off easily.
Glue the walls together. Use stiff RI and boxes or foam pieces to hold it together. After this is hard, glue the roof on it. Again, use stiff RI and use boxes or foam under the edge of the roof.
The secret is stiff RI, it should harden quickly (not the normal piping consistency). Press the parts together and hold them for a moment, after this use the boxes or foam pieces as temporary supports.
Don't be discouraged when it doesn't work. When I started, the first year I had so much problems! But on the next try (over a year later, because I didn't want to even think about it again) it went so much easier!
There is even a shortcut you could make, if anything else fails. With the smallest round cutter or round piping tip (ca. 12), make holes in the edges before baking and use piece of narrow ribbon to bind it together. No gluing necessary.
One more tip - you can use straight pins (with glass head because you want to find all of them) and pin the parts temporarily. Simply glue the parts together, pin it and let it dry. Not necessary, but sometimes useful. It leaves small pinprick in the gingerbread house, but it can be covered with decorations.
I agree with above poster
For my last 2 houses i just piped my stiffer icing on where it needed to be and then i put them it place and sat there and used my hands to keep them in place for 5-10mins or more if you can be bothered.
Then i stacked up some boxes until it was just the right height to sit under the edge of the roof to keep it from slipping down, maybe out something non slidy between the boxes and the roof or like said use foam if you have it.
This worked fine for me and it was a larger roof
Not sure why the roof fell in, was your gingerbread firm enough?
A few more tips.....don't roll your gingerbread too thick - it will not be stable if it is too thick (it will be too soft) For the roofs, I use canned goods to use as a prop, I just keep trying different sized cans until I find one that fits right under the edge of the roof to hold it until it is dry. The weight of the product in the cans is enough to hold the roof in place. I use them (one can on each side) to hold the side of the house in place too. It works like a charm.
This is a fantastic help - thank you ladies. The roof size I had was 12cm x 19cm, so not that big, but I did just bake it yesterday and then try to put it all together fresh.
I think even if I had propped them up the middle bit still would have fallen in, they were probably too thick.
I'll try another batch today using all these wonderful tips.
Does it make a difference to the "Strength" of the dough by how much you knead it?
Don't be afraid to over bake the pieces. You want the to be dry! It is possible yours just were not dry enough and too thick. After the time alloted for baking, let the pieces stay in the turned off oven so dry out.....up to an hour.
If it was really soft, you could bake the gingerbread a touch longer. It is very difficult to see when gingerbread has been baked just right. For gingerbread houses I would advocate to very slightly overbake it - usually you want to have it as decoration, not as much to eat.
When you overbake the gingerbread (not burn), the difference is that it becomes very hard and goes never soft. Just right baked gingerbread gets hard, but with time gets softer again.
I'm wondering if any of you gingerbread experts have used melted chocolate for the gingerbread "glue" instead of royal icing. I've heard this works well too but I've never tried it. What do y'all think?
I have never used it. The problem is that chocolate can get softer in warm room, and RI stays hard unless you have much humidity. I would be afraid because the gingerbread houses I make are sometimes displayed right next to heating...
I usually put a string of lights in mine, so that would not work for me. (it looks really pretty and you can smell the gingerbread all over the house!)