Every year when Christmas rolls around, I’m tempted to build a gingerbread house, which I haven’t done since I was a kid. However, I’m always afraid that it’ll collapse and leave a mess of cookies, icing, and sugary toppings all over my floor. Thankfully, I found a hack online showing how to hold a gingerbread house together using sugar — and honestly, I’m shocked I didn’t think of this myself.
Why do gingerbread houses fall apart?
The most common culprit behind a gingerbread house collapse is not allowing enough time for the glue or royal icing to fully harden. If you try to move or decorate your house before whatever adhesive substance you’re using is completely cured, it will almost certainly fall apart. Ideally, you want to wait about three or four hours after putting up the walls and roof before you start decorating. With all the other things that need to be done this time of year, setting your project aside for a while might not be a problem. But if you’re making gingerbread houses with friends — especially very young friends, like grandchildren, nephews, and nieces — you’ll likely want a speedier option that lets you take photos of your gingerbread masterpiece right away.
How do you keep a gingerbread house from falling apart?
Luckily, TikTok user @tastyentertaining shares her simple trick for stabilizing a gingerbread house, and it only requires one ingredient: sugar. In a dry nonstick pan, she pours one cup of granulated sugar over medium heat. Occasionally giving the pan a shake, she waits for it to caramelize and form a brown syrup. This process takes about eight to 10 minutes, and it’s important to closely watch the sugar to make sure it doesn’t burn.
After the syrup forms, she turns the heat to low and dips the ends of the gingerbread walls in the sugar. Next, she sticks one syrupy end of the wall against another before gently pressing for 10 seconds to secure them together. She then repeats this process with the remaining parts, including the roof, to form the house shape. Just be very careful doing this, because a caramelized sugar accident can result in a nasty burn (ouch!).
Once the house is built, she carefully lifts it up and dips the bottom in the syrup before mounting onto a board to decorate it with icing and candy. Watch this entire gingerbread-building process happen in seconds here:
Where should you keep your gingerbread house?
After working so hard to create your masterpiece, the only question left is, where’s the best place to put it? Gingerbread houses are best stored in a cool, dry place away from heat or moisture that could cause the icing and toppings to melt. Want to keep your house around for a while? Wrapping it in plastic wrap each night ensures that bugs or dust won’t get to your creation, allowing it to last up to a year.
Thanks to this genius tip, my perennial holiday dilemma is solved — and the answer was right in my pantry all along. Now I just need to make a last minute dash to the store, grab a gingerbread house decorating kit, and let my inner child loose!