So, it's been a few years since I last made a gingerbread house (and I wasn't caking for a living then!).
I found a great looking little book on Christmas Gingerbread so decided to try it out using the beautifully illustrated instructions. It was great learning curve.
Lesson 1: the gingerbread in the book (2 kinds) tastes absolutely great, but spreads terribly in the oven despite being made exactly as instructed, and not over mixed. the resulting pieces didn't fit together well at all, so had to make a second batch and re-cut them while still warm. Edges weren't great then though. I couldn't re-cut my windows so they looked like half closed eyes.
Lesson 2: the gingerbread recipe in the book, even when baked for far longer than stated, is not really stable enough to support the weight of the larger houses. The walls start to bow very quickly.
Lesson 3: the caramel glue advised in the book is a tricky animal. It gives no second chances for positioning, which is a thing, but the big problem with it is that (while it might work fine in a dryer environment) it's been stormy here and the caramel absorbs the moisture from the air, then beads and drips sticky, discoloured water all over your pretty design. I'm not using that again.
Lesson 4: the piping that I did when the pieces were lying flat, simply didn't adhere well to the gingerbread so that when upright they started to break and fall off, especially when the soft centred gingerbread started to bow. Experimenting later on I found that if I lightly sprayed the surface with a little water before piping, the royal stuck a bit better.
Obviously you have to to wait for the icing to dry and the water to evaporate before you can do anything with the pieces.
So, lessons learned, I used a more stable (more biscuit stye) dough that is less liable to spread or bow for subsequent houses and it all went much better. Here're the photos of the experimental one though. It's not too bad, but I wouldn't be comfortable selling it!
...oh, and by the way...
!! Happy Christmas !!