Decorating gingerbread houses can involve a lot of different materials including candy, icing, and anything else that’s edible.
One type of cake decorating icing that can be used is rolled fondant, and it’s a versatile option for a lot of different decorations.
Rolled fondant can be used on gingerbread houses in many ways, including covering large areas with a solid sheet, cutting pieces of fondant into small sections like shingles or shutters, or using molded pieces as decorative architectural elements. Fondant can be attached to gingerbread using royal icing or corn syrup, or it can be modeled into shapes that can be used as freestanding elements in the landscaping.
I use fondant to make a lot of decorations for gingerbread houses because it can be formed into so many things, and if you add a little tylose it can be stiffened to use for modeling.
How to attach fondant to a gingerbread house.
To attach fondant to a gingerbread house, it will need to be stuck to the surface of the house itself, or attached to an iced surface. Royal icing or corn syrup will generally provide enough edible adhesive to secure the fondant to the house, especially if the fondant piece is on the small side. Other options for attaching larger pieces are melted sugar or chocolate.
If the fondant is rolled out flat, or placed in molds to make flat shapes, it can easily be placed on a roof to create patterns and texture.
This Valentine’s Day gingerbread house has molded lace on the roof and the sides of the house.
The lace was attached to the house with royal icing, and the two sugars combine to form a strong bond.
If you leave the fondant out after rolling it, it will start to dry out and can crack if you try to bend it.
If the surface that the fondant is covering is curved or angled, the fondant needs to be applied to the house when it hasn’t had time to dry out. Fondant has a decent working time, though, so you don’t have to work super quickly.
Just make sure that if you’re going to put fondant pieces over any shapes that aren’t totally flat, you’re doing it before the fondant dries out.
The problem with attaching soft fondant to the house is that it will show fingerprints and any other marks that happen if you press into the soft fondant.
Sometimes drying out fondant pieces makes more sense than attaching it when it’s soft.
When to dry fondant pieces out before attaching them.
If the pieces of fondant that you’re attaching to the house need to be very precise, or if they need to stay in a specific shape when they’re placed on the house, they might need to be dried before placing them on the gingerbread. By allowing the fondant to dry before applying it to the house it will stay in the shape that it’s meant to be and won’t warp.
If you’re making things that should have sharp angles like doors or windows, cutting the pieces out on a flat surface and letting them dry will make them look more precise when you attach them to the gingerbread house.
When you’re cutting fondant pieces then putting them directly onto the gingerbread house the fondant can stretch, so if you don’t want that to happen, drying it can prevent that.
If you’re making things like shingles that need to hold their shape after being applied to the house you should definitely cut them out and let them dry before attaching them.
If the fondant is soft it will settle on the pieces below it, and it won’t give you the same crisp look as dried pieces will.
For this house, I cut individual pieces of fondant and let them dry before attaching them to the house so that they would keep their shape and not sag when I attached them.
There will be times when you DO want the fondant to conform to a shape, though, so for those designs you shouldn’t dry the pieces out first.
For an article about fondant vs. gumpaste for your gingerbread house, click here.
When to attach fondant to a gingerbread house when it isn’t dried first.
As a general rule, fondant would be attached to a gingerbread house if the fondant needs to conform to a shape or to other elements on the house. Unless the pieces are prepared extremely precisely, it’s likely that there will need to be some adjustments made during assembly. Leaving the fondant soft will allow it to be manipulated and adjusted slightly to fit into specific areas.
An example of leaving the fondant soft is the same Valentine’s Day house, where I had to fit a strip of molded fondant lace to the side of the house, and to the front around the door.
When I put the fondant on this house it went around the door, and I needed to fit it around the shape.
I also wanted to stick some candy hearts around it, so to do that I needed the fondant to be soft when I fit them in so they would fit.
I also fit the pieces onto the edge of the roof and needed to curve them a little to conform to the roof edge shape.
If these pieces had been dried beforehand, they might not have fit in together with each other.
Make sure that when you’re deciding what decorations to use you think about whether things should be put together before or after they dry so that you can make sure everything will fit!
How to make fondant dry faster.
To make fondant dry faster, tylose, gum tragacanth, or corn starch can be added to create a drier version that simulates gumpaste. This is often referred to as a “quick” gumpaste because it’s not technically real gumpaste, but it’s close enough to dry harder than fondant. You can also put the fondant into a dehydrator to draw moisture out faster than air-drying.
If you only want the fondant to be stiffer, and not dry out as quickly as gumpaste does, you can add some corn starch to stiffen the fondant a little.
That will allow it to set up a little stiffer than usual, but it won’t make it so stiff that it cracks.
Using a dehydrator that will draw moisture out of the fondant can be a quick way to really harden the fondant, but you need to be careful if you don’t want it to be really hard.
The dehydrator will heat the fondant up but it will seem like it’s softer when it’s still warm. It will harden as it cools off, so don’t overheat it if you only want it to be a little stiff and not rock hard.
This article on my cake decorating blog shows how I use the dehydrator to dry fondant and gumpaste pieces: Dehydrators for fondant and gumpaste.
Fondant is a versatile sugar medium that can be used in a lot of different ways for gingerbread house decorating, and can be used for modeling, covering surfaces, and creating patterned designs. If you’ve never used it in your gingerbread decorations, try it to see what you can make with it!
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