This month, the Daring Bakers were tasked with making Gingerbread Houses. When I was very young, my mom used to making very extravagent gingerbread houses with her 5th grade students and then enter them into a local contest. I figured if she did it so well, it must be in the blood! I was really looking forward to this challenge as it offered a creative outlet during this super busy and hectic time of year.
I decided that I would make a fancy gingerbread house here at home with my husband's help, and then we would make a more lighthearted and fun one with my parents back home in Michigan. After reading many of the comments on the DB board, I decided to go with the Good Housekeeping recipe for my dough and the Royal Icing Recipe from the DB:
1 large egg white
3 cups (330g) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon almond extract
Beat all ingredients until smooth, adding the powdered sugar gradually to get the desired consistency. Pipe on pieces and allow to dry before assembling. If you aren't using it all at once you can keep it in a small bowl, loosely covered with a damp towel for a few hours until ready to use. You may have to beat it slightly to get it an even consistency if the top sets up a bit. Piped on the house, this will set up hard over time.
Since I wanted to make a traditional house for the first try, we chose the Colonial from Bob Vila's website. The template can be found here: http://www.bobvila.com/Downloads/Gingerbread_Colonial.pdf
I made the dough a few days in advance when I had a bit of time, and I found it to be rather dry.