Gingerbread Knowledge
Gingerbread House Icing using Meringue Powder

Decorating Gingerbread House Pieces with Royal Icing

Gingerbread house icing is the glue that holds your gingerbread house pieces together, and it's so important to get it right! Royal icing is perfect for a gingerbread house because of its consistency. It dries hard, and fast, making sure that your house won't break or fall apart. It's perfect not just for decorating, but for setting a strong base for your house.

There's more than one way to make royal icing, but our favorite type is meringue powder royal icing. We're going to walk you through our favorite royal icing recipe to build a strong gingerbread house, using meringue powder.

What is Royal Icing Made of?

Traditionally, Royal Icing consists of sugar and raw egg whites. This is the way Royal Icing has been done. Some people add lemon as well, to give the icing more flavor, or cream of tartar, as well as food coloring. (Lemon juice and cream of tartar both acts as a binder and stabilizing agent for whipped egg whites.) However, there are many other types of Royal Icing, that can be done by adding different ingredients to replace the raw egg whites.

Types of Gingerbread House Icing:

Raw Egg Whites Royal Icing:

This is the traditional way of making royal icing! It uses two ingredients: powdered sugar and egg whites. The egg whites make the icing dry hard and fast, and this is what holds the gingerbread house together.

Pasteurized egg whites are now available in the grocery store making it a safer choice for traditional royal icing.

Royal Icing Without Egg:

For those who have an egg allergy, or vegans, there are alternatives to using eggs in royal icing. Light corn syrup, unflavored gelatin and hot water, or a no-egg replacement powder.

Royal Icing with Powdered Egg Whites:

Powdered egg whites have the same results as using raw egg whites. The biggest difference is you're not having to use a raw ingredient, which can make it safer to consume.

Meringue Powder Royal Icing:

Meringue powder is made with dried pasteurized egg whites, cornstarch, and sugar. Meringue Powder gives the icing a hard, and stable consistency, that dries fast. This type of icing is even more stable than icing made using raw egg whites.

Why is using Meringue Powder better?

Making Royal Icing

Meringue powder has the same purpose as raw egg whites, without the need for raw egg whites and cream of tartar as a stabilizing and binding agent. This is quick-drying icing, and it dries hard, making it the perfect edible glue for your gingerbread house to hold your pieces together. This will make sure that the gingerbread house holds its structure, without falling apart. Meringue powder is great because it gives the icing a better consistency, and is more stable than using raw egg whites, or powdered egg whites with cream of tartar.

Royal Icing Recipe:

Royal Icing

Royal Icing is the perfect icing for gingerbread houses because of its stiff consistency when it dries. This recipe is enough to make two large Gingerbread Houses!

Prep Time: 25 min

Kitchenware:

Stand or Hand-Held Mixer

Whisk Attachment or Beaters

Bow or Airtight Container with Lid

Plastic Wrap

Ingredients:

1lb or 3 1/2 ~ 4 cups powdered sugar

3 tbsp of Meringue Powder (Included in our Gingerbread House Kit)

7 tbsp of water

Step-by-step:

1) Add dry ingredients (powdered sugar and meringue powder) to the mixing bowl.

2) With the mixer set on low speed, and using the whisk attachment or beaters, gradually add water, until the mixture is thick and smooth.

3) Turn speed to high and mix until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks. (About 3-5 minutes).

4) Store icing by placing it on a bowl and adding plastic wrap directly to the icing before closing the lid. Refrigerate until ready for use.

5) If you want, you can also add a few drops of food coloring. You can use either liquid food coloring or gel food coloring.

How long does it take Royal Icing to dry?

Royal Icing takes about 6 hours to dry completely. This means that it can be touched or moved without it getting damaged. However, after 10-15 minutes it should be dry enough to hold pieces or decorations in place.

How can I make Royal Icing dry faster?

1) Place a dehumidifier in the room, to remove moisture.

2) Make sure the room is at room temperature, and that it's well ventilated. A light breeze and room temperature can speed up the drying process.

Tips for the perfect icing:

1) Consistency is key:

The key to royal icing is getting it to the right consistency. The icing should be thick enough to hold its shape, but not too thick that it can't be squeezed easily out of the decorating bag. You can either add more water or powdered sugar if you need to adjust. If the icing is too thick, you can add a few drops of water. If the icing is too watery, you can add more powdered sugar.

When you refrigerate icing the consistency might change. Add a couple of drops of water and/or sugar as needed, and whip for 3-5 minutes.

2) Store properly:

This icing dries out fast, so it's very important to refrigerate it until use so that it doesn't dry out. Keep this in mind also when decorating! You don't want the icing to harden while you're decorating.

3) Avoid lumps in your icing:

You want to make sure your icing is smooth! Avoid getting any lumps by making sure that the powder and sugar are incorporated properly. Use a spatula while mixing to scrape the powder that gets stuck to the sides of the bowl.

4) Getting the right color:

Icing dries darker than what it looks initially. You always want the icing to be slightly lighter than the color you want to ensure you get the right shade.

5) Avoid humidity:

Humidity is Royal Icing's enemy. It will make the icing dry more slowly, and it can make the icing dull, fragile, and uneven. You can use a dehumidifier in the room while the icing dries to avoid humidity. Once you use the icing to decorate, do not put the house inside the fridge. This will also add humidity to the icing.

What piping tip do you use for Royal Icing?

Piping with Royal Icing

The right piping tip really depends on what you are decorating. We don't recommend using a piping tip that is too small, as they tend to clog easily. It really comes down to your personal preference and whether you're decorating smaller details, or gluing the pieces together.

Tips for Piping:

  • Make sure that baked gingerbread cookies are cooled off before you start assembling the house together. Otherwise, the icing can melt, and not hold the house together.
  • Choose the right piping tip size and shape. If your piping tip is too small it can get clogged easily. The Gingerbread House Kit includes the right piping tips and instructions.
  • For assembling you want the icing to be thicker, but not too thick where it won't be easy to squeeze. You need a thicker consistency because this is the mortar of your house. You want the house to be stable and to stay put.
  • For decorating, you can add a teaspoon of water to make the icing have a more liquid consistency. You want it to be a little easier to pipe, but not too liquid where it's runny.

Royal Icing is the best icing for building gingerbread houses, especially when you use meringue powder. It's the best way to hold your house together and decorate it, keeping your gingerbread creation looking beautiful, and preventing it from falling apart. Although it may seem difficult to get the right consistency, you will find that with this Royal Icing recipe, it's actually very simple.