Welcome back to the Little Cabin in the Woods. It snowed! Layers of icing and sugar have taken our gingerbread log cabin from the golden warmth of Fall to the cozy snugness of a Winter’s afternoon.
If you missed the cabin’s construction, click here for building instructions.
Finish the Chimney
Use brown royal icing to add a short column of the rock-colored jelly beans to the top of your fireplace. Small wisps of cotton or piped white icing can be added as smoke.
Add a Front Walkway
Mark the shape of a front walkway on the base with a non-toxic graphite pencil. Pipe brown icing on the walk and push in chocolate jimmies to line the path with gravel.
Plant Candy Shrubbery
Use white royal icing to attach green gumdrops and spearmint leaves to the perimeter of the house.
Look at the gumdrops at the house’s corners — I propped them up higher with extra slices of gumdrop. Even though my house rests on the curve of an overturned plate, I like the shrubs to line up vertically. Little bits of candy or broken pretzel do the trick.
Pipe a zig zag of white icing snow to outline both sides of the walkway.
Let it Snow
Working in small sections, pipe zig-zags of white icing using a large round tip. Immediately sprinkle on white crystal sugar. You can see in the photo that I raised the house above a baking sheet and sugar bowl. The excess sugar falls down into the bowl or baking sheet. Collect the fallen sugar in a corner of the baking sheet, then pour it back into the bowl.
There are several different types and sizes (levels of coarseness) of decorating sugar. Here they are starting with the most coarse.
1. Rock Sugar or Rock Candy – very large crystals (about 1/4″ each) that look like crushed ice. I don’t use these because they’re rough and don’t reflect light well. Comparison – a crystal in the rough.
2. Coarse Sugar / Sugar Crystals – my favorite way to add a shiny brightness to white icing. The crystals are large (roughly the size of large pretzel salt) with cleanly cleft facets. Comparison – a cleanly cut, sparkling crystal. Here’s where I buy mine: White Coarse Sugar
3. Sanding Sugar – is slightly larger and coarser than table sugar. It definitely adds some extra sparkle.
4. Table sugar – they crystals may be tiny, but they still add texture to white royal icing snow.
Strengthen and Fill the Roof Beams
Spread stiff royal icing across both sides of the roof. You’ll want the icing the same thick consistency you used when assembling the four walls of the house. Make certain you fill all the cracks between pretzel logs. There’s no need to let this dry; you can go straight to the next step.
Let it Snow Again
Before you ice the roof of a gingerbread house, make sure your icing is up to the job. The stiff, cement-like royal icing you used to build the house and fill the roof beams is wonderful on roofs.
Sometimes though, with super stiff icing or dry weather, I find that sprinkles and sugar won’t adhere well. The answer of course is to thin the icing slightly to increase the stickiness factor.
If the icing gets too loose however, it will slowly (or quickly!) slide down the sloped roof and run off into the yard. Think syrup trickling down the edges of stacked pancakes. All of the syrup. I’ve been there too many times to count.
So here’s the trick.
To thin royal icing, add water drop by drop.
To test it, hold your knife at a 45 degree angle. You don’t want it thin enough to droop or slide. If it’s visibly fighting gravity and loosing, it’s too thin.
Here’s an excellent explanation with photos from SweetAmbs showing three different consistencies of icing. For roof icing, you’ll want the “medium consistency” icing. Click here.
Cover your roof with white icing and sprinkle on coarse sugar.
Add the icicles by putting slightly thinner white icing in bag and piping “drips” from the eaves.
You can also coax icicles down by dragging the end of a toothpick through the wet roof icing.