Making clear windows for a gingerbread house is a cute detail, and it also allows you to put things inside the house or to add lights to illuminate the windows.
There are a couple of ways to make clear windows, but the one that’s the least humidity-sensitive is sheet gelatin.
Sheet gelatin has a few good points as far as gingerbread house making goes.
Gelatin sheets are transparent pieces of gelatin that are used in baking, but they can be attached to a gingerbread house to create a see-through window. They generally have a diamond pattern on them which can be used to add a stained glass effect by adding color to the panes. Using gelatin allows you to include lights inside the house to illuminate the windows, and it allows you to avoid working with hot sugar, which can be a burn hazard.
Sheet gelatin is a good option for gingerbread, but there are some tricks to using it, and a few ways to get it to work to create windows that look good and don’t melt.
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How to attach the windows to the gingerbread house.
There are three main ways that you can attach gelatin sheet windows to a gingerbread house. The first is to use an edible glue like royal icing or chocolate to the house and glue the window on. The second is to use an edible framework that will hold the window in place, and the third is to use a non-edible framework.
All three will allow you to attach the windows securely, but the framework methods can work best to keep the gelatin windows from warping.
The only problem with gelatin sheets is that they’re meant to be dissolved, so they are sensitive to moisture.
Using a water-based icing that’s too wet can make the gelatin bloom where they’re stuck to the gingerbread, so they can pull away and warp before the icing dries.
To prevent this, you can use some royal icing that’s not too wet, or use chocolate or candy melts to attach the windows.
How to attach the windows using royal icing or chocolate.
To attach the gelatin sheets to the window, you’ll need to cut a sheet of gelatin that’s bigger than the window opening so that you can glue it onto the gingerbread along the edges.
Get some dry-ish royal icing or melted chocolate to pipe onto the areas around the windows.
(Since chocolate and candy melts are more fat than water, they won’t affect the gelatin the same way that water-based icings will.)
Pipe a line of the icing or chocolate around the window, then press the gelatin sheet on top of it.
If you want the window to look like it’s set into the wall of the house so that there’s a window ledge, do the piping on the inside of the wall.
Turn the gingerbread wall section over so that the gelatin sheet is being held flat against the counter, and dry it so that the sheet doesn’t have a chance to pull away from the wall.
If this method doesn’t hold the windows in place and they still want to curl up off the gingerbread, you should try the window frame method.
For articles with downloadable gingerbread house templates that you can print at home, click here.
Attaching the gelatin windows with an edible gingerbread frame.
To attach the windows with an edible frame, you’ll need to use pieces of gingerbread that fit around the outside of the window opening, either inside or outside the window.
These can be decorative if you want to put them on the outside, or simple strips if they won’t be visible on the inside.
Cut a piece of the gelatin sheet that’s a little larger than the window opening and put it on the inside or the outside of the window, whichever you’ve decided to do.
You can glue the windows down with icing first, or just use the gingerbread to stick them to the house.
Using the gingerbread pieces that you’ve prepared and some royal icing, sandwich the edges of the window between the gingerbread and the frame pieces and stick the frame pieces to the house.
The frame will hold the gelatin sheet in place.
The advantage of doing it this way is that the windows definitely won’t pull away from the house, and they’ll be a lot lighter than sugar windows would be.
You’ll be able to make larger windows without worrying about them melting later, too.
If you don’t need everything on the house to be edible, you can also make a cardboard section to hold the sheets in place.
Attaching the gelatin sheets with a non-edible frame.
If you don’t have extra gingerbread to make the frame for the window, and you don’t need everything on the house to be edible, you can use a piece of cardboard to make the piece that holds the window in place.
Cut the cardboard in strips, or in a piece that fits around the window.
Place the gelatin on the back of the house section, and use royal icing or hot glue to glue the cardboard onto the area around the window.
Hot glue clearly isn’t edible, but neither is the cardboard, and hot glue dries the fastest and strongest of all the glues I tried out! (Read about the four kinds of gingerbread house glues I tested here.)
The glued cardboard will hold the gelatin sheets in place and won’t be affected by humidity or heat if you put a light inside the house to illuminate the windows.
The advantage of using lightweight cardboard to hold the windows in place is that it won’t add a lot of weight to the house, which can be important, especially for larger houses.
And as I mentioned before, it’s not affected by heat or humidity, so you probably won’t come down in the morning to find that your windows separated from the house overnight because of humidity.
The downside is that it’s clearly not edible, so it’s not good for competitions that require everything on the house to be edible, or if you’re going to try to eat the house later!
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