Assembly tips

The construction of a gingerbread house will closely follow the building concepts of a real house. Proper planning is essential You can make the gingerbread ahead of time, making sure to let it thoroughly dry in a secure area before putting it in a cardboard box. Be sure to allow plenty of time to put the pieces together and that you have everything you need for the assembly before you start.

Prepare a base for your house. Use a piece of plywood or MDF covered with tin foil, or a large heavy platter or tray. You will want to be able to move the entire structure easily. You can use a sheet of gingerbread on top of the base if you wish, but it's not necessary. If you want fairy lights in the house this is how to attach them: Use 10-15 mm MDF as your base. Use thin nails, attach 3-4 in a row in the centre of the base you are going to use, 3-5 cm apart. Don’t hammer them all the way in, but leave around half of it. Take some garden string or any other metal string and cut to around 5 cm long pieces, one for each nail. Put the piece of string next to each nail and hammer the nail down to one side so the string gets hooked under it. Now you can run the wire for the fairy lights along the line of nails and use the metal strings to securely fasten the lights. Tin foil or cotton wool, or both, will cover the wire.

For the next step: Banish small children from the kitchen !!
You can assemble the gingerbread house either using royal icing or melted sugar. I prefer melted sugar so here comes how to do that:

First of all, no children in the kitchen is not a joke, it is for safety reasons. And don’t limit it to just children. Pets, old parents, whimsy spouses and nosy neighbours should all be kept on a safe distance. What you are about to do is a one-man/woman-job.

Pour about 300 grams of sugar in a frying pan and melt slowly over medium heat. Do not stir until you can see it’s started to melt. Melted sugar is seriously hot, take great care not to splash anything on your hands. The sugar should have a dark brown colour when ready. If the heat gets too high it will burn so if the colour turns dark on the edge before the centre part has melted take the pan off the heat for a moment. You will probably need to keep moving the pan on and off the heat many times, while stirring and checking the colour. If you burn the sugar and it gets black or starts to smoke, put the pan aside to cool, clean and start all over again!

When you have a smooth, runny, melted sugar mass you are ready to start assemble the house. Keep the pan on the heat but lower the temperature so it doesn’t burn. Assemble the house on a work surface next to the cooker if possible. Cover the surface with greaseproof paper and have all the pieces for the gingerbread house next to you. Use a spoon to pour the melted sugar on the edge of one wall and put the adjacent wall quickly in place while holding firmly. Continue until you have all 4 walls attached and check that the corners are fairly 90 degrees. Continue with the rest of the pieces and finish with the roof. You might want to attach some wooden plant sticks to the walls, across the longest stretch of the roof, to make some support for the weight. If the sugar mass gets too thick to pour from a spoon you might have to increase the heat. You can also use melted sugar to safely secure the gingerbread house to the base. Make a mark on the base of where each corner of the house will be. Add one dab of sugar mass to each mark and place the house on top of them. If you are using fairy light, make sure to attach them before attaching the house.

After the house is assembled, go over and check that there are no loose parts. Use more sugar mass if necessary. Melted sugar stripes on the outside can be covered by decoration, so do the final touch up with some more sweets or icing sugar. Leave the house to dry for several days in a cool dry place before either displaying it or storing it wrapped in cardboard and plastic.