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Royal Icing for gingerbread houses

Pam asks: I have a question that I am hoping you can help me with.  I am making a lot of frosting for a gingerbread house project.  It is royal frosting (egg whites, powdered sugar, and cream of tartar).  Have you ever worked with this?  Do you think I can make it the day before?  Should I store in the refrigerator?

Baking S.O.S. says: Royal icing is tricky–I’m sure you’ve experienced it if you have made it before!  It does not keep well.  Once you mix it, you have to use it right away or it will harden and set to the point where you can no longer use it.

So unfortunately, you should make it as close to the time you intend to use it.  The way to keep it from solidifying before you are ready to use it is: keep it in your mixing bowl (stainless steel usually works best), place a layer of plastic wrap directly on top of the frosting–being sure to get out any air bubbles, and then place a damp towel on top of the plastic wrap.  That is the ONLY way I know to work with royal icing successfully!

Pam asks: Do you think it would work if I made it and then took it to school in zip lock bags that we could then just pipe it out of?  Do you know of any other frosting that would work?

Baking S.O.S. says: Yes, I think it would work to put the Royal Icing in ziploc bags–being sure to squeeze out all the air before sealing them.  (The exposure to air is what makes the frosting harden and set, and it cannot be revived after it has set.)  When you are ready to use the icing, just snip a small corner off the bottom of the bag to squeeze it out.  That is what I always do when I take frosting to school for kids to decorate cookies.

Royal Icing is really the only kind of frosting that you would want to use for gingerbread houses.  Nothing else sets up as quickly or as steadfastly to “glue” everything together. Good luck! It sounds like a fun project to do at school with the kids.

4 comments to Royal Icing for gingerbread houses

  • amy

    Hey I want to make a Gingerbread house this year, except I am pregnant and cant eat the raw eggs in the Royal Icing. I need a recipe that doesnt require raw eggs, please help.

  • Good question! I like to use meringue powder–such as this one made by Wilton–to make Royal Icing. Just add water and whip! It is made with dried egg whites, so it should be safe for pregnant women to consume, I believe.

    You can find meringue powder in hobby stores that sell cake decorating supplies, such as Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, or JoAnn Etc. You can also find it in specialty cake decorating stores if you have one in your town. Good luck!

  • I am wanting to make a chair and mat also a tv for the top of a retirement cake. Could some one please tell me the best icing to use as i do not want it to dry up, and can you get it in colours? Please help. Not much time!

  • Hi, it sounds like you need to work with fondant icing to get the effect you are trying to achieve. Check out the Wilton guide to decorating with fondant for complete details.

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