One of the hardest parts about gingerbread house competitions is the Edible Rule. Every contest that I’ve ever competed in requires that every part of the structure (excluding the base) be edible. That rule can limit a lot of creativity. It’s hard to get food to stand on its own. Luckily, there is a type of icing that dries rock hard and is pretty much magic. I call it “cement” or “glue” icing, but it’s also referred to as royal icing.
The recipe is fairly simple, but it can be a pain in the you know what to get the consistency right.
2 cups confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons meringue powder
2 tablespoons water
(If you do not have meringue powder, you can use one egg white instead of the powder and water. I just prefer using the meringue powder because it’s easier to control.)
Mix all the ingredients together at the same time. Use an electric beater to mix until the icing forms peaks. It will be fairly thick. You can thin it out with water or thicken it with more confectioner’s sugar if need be. The thicker, the better. It is much more effective that way.
Now you can go crazy with it! I use it to glue my structure together, but I also use it to glue my decorations on. I even use it to create some of those decorations. It colors easily and can be stored for several days. Just put it in a shallow bowl with cling wrap on top of it. It keeps best when the cling wrap is actually touching the icing. That keeps the air out. I put it in icing bags with tips so it’s easier to use.
I usually keep my icing white when I’m using it. My houses always have a Christmas theme to them, so the icing just looks like snow. However, if you don’t want all your seams and borders to be white, you can always color the icing any color you want. Giving it a brown color would help it blend in with the gingerbread. I will try that if I ever choose to do a house that doesn’t need snow.
I used about five batches of icing on my gingerbread house this year. It was nuts! (Pun intended)