This year I made a mid-century house and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I was inspired by this house by Melbourne-based Craft Schmaft and this house by Nick Milkovich Architects.
It was a little bit easier than a traditional house as there was less focus on intricate white icing. I made a template first from cardboard. I used this dough recipe which has been the best to work with, tasted the best and looked the best. I will be reusing it every year. See below for my icing recipe.
1. The icing has to be just the right consistency. I always use the Women's Weekly recipe:
Beat 1 egg white just until it can hold a peak. Gradually add 2 cups sifted icing sugar whist mixing on low speed.
I also add half a teaspoon of lemon juice. I find this gives me a good consistency that holds the pieces together but also makes great icicles at the very end of the process.
2. Build. Wait. And then decorate. If you can let the walls and roof mortar dry completely before decorating you will avoid the common problem of the roof sliding off the house because the icing is not dry. Lots of lollies on the roof can contribute to this.
3. Practice piping icing patterns on a piece of cardboard. I almost always use a zip-lock bag with the corner cut off to pipe the icing. The more I cut off the corner the larger the line of icing. I spoon the mixture into a corner of the bag and seal it carefully. If you need to stop you can just put that bag into another icing bag and to stop if drying whilst you tend to something else.
If you are not confident with swirls and hearts, practice dots and lines. They can go a long way. It is much easier to do patterns after the zip-lock piping bag has warmed in your hands.
4. Lollies. The key is to use simple classic lollies. The other secret is never to use the same lolly twice on the same house. So if you use jelly beans on the roof, don't use them anywhere else on the house. I can't do without mint leaves and candy canes.
5. Don't worry about the myriad of imperfections you create along the way. Hide them by making snow dribbles and icicles. In a previous year, the chimney I made was really bad so I made a big dribble of icing around the top that hid the gaping cracks.
6. Icicles! These are the key to getting that special look. They are so much fun to make and add miniature scale magic to your house. You do them at the very end when the icing in the zip lock bag is warm from your hand. Check out my mini-movie below to see how to drop icicles off your gingerbread house.
Finally, if you still need something extra, a sifting of icing sugar is the vaseline on the lens and looks like snow over your little domestic creation.