Tag Archives: royal icing

Designing a Gingerbread Clock Tower

This year I decided to create a gingerbread house for the Orlando Museum of Art’s annual Festival of Trees event. I wanted to design something unique, cool to look at, and most importantly… delicious. Check out my Steampunk Gingerbread House Pinterest board to see artifacts from Victorian architecture and the steampunk movement that I found inspiring.

Here’s how I did it.

Design.

Updated June 2015 – Finally – Here is the PDF I created of my design template. Print onto tabloid sized paper (11″ x 17″) for best results and build your own clock tower gingerbread house!

Steampunk Clock Tower Gingerbread House Template (PDF)

gingerbread_clock_tower_template_thumb

I first sketched out my design idea, and then cut a scale model out of foam board to use as a template.

Sketched design of steampunk gingerbread house. KristenFortenberry.com

Clock tower gingerbread house design by Kristen Fortenberry

Custom foam board template for clock tower gingerbread house

I used tape and string to piece the foam together into a full scale model, mainly to test out how well it could stand on its own. It passed the test!

Full scale model template of gingerbread house clock tower

Bake.

For the dough, I used this recipe for structural gingerbread dough, which worked out great. It was easy to work with, didn’t stretch or warp during baking, and used more cost-efficient ingredients. I used unbleached flower and dark Karo to keep the color deep brown, and I also followed MarySC1000’s advice in the reviews section of the recipe, which called for cinnamon and ginger.

I took apart the model and used it as a template to cut out the pieces from gingerbread dough.

Gingerbread clock tower wall, before baking

To create candy windows, I ground up hard candy using a NutriBullet with the milling blade. I made 4 colors–clear, yellow, orange, and purple (which I ended up not using).

Make gingerbread house windows by grinding up hard candy in a NutriBullet.

Once the gingerbread walls had cooled off from baking, I filled each window with the candy powder.

Use ground up hard candy to make gingerbread house windows

To create a gradient effect on the clock face, I mixed orange, yellow, and clear into each other to blend the colors as they melted.

How to create a gradient effect when making gingerbread house windows

The finished product turned out great!

Gingerbread house windows with a gradient

I baked the roof pieces (4 triangles) and decorated them with Little Debbie nutty bars, using royal icing to glue the pieces on.

Decorating gingerbread house roof with Little Debbie Nutty bars

Next I cut out gears for inside the clock, using the stencils I found here as a guide. I used a chapstick cap, highlighter cap, alligator clip, and a straw to punch out different sizes of holes inside the gears.

Use a compass and cookie cutter edges to make gear-shaped gingerbread cookies.

Use a compass and cookie cutter edges to make gear-shaped gingerbread cookies.

Steampunk/gear-shaped gingerbread cookies before baking.

After baking…

Steampunk/gear-shaped gingerbread cookies after baking.

Decorate.

To decorate the clock face, I printed out an image of this antique clock face, (included in the downloadable PDF template) and traced the design onto the hard candy using black royal icing. I added an M&M and Reese’s Minis to decorate.

Melted hard candy used to create face of a clock on gingerbread house

Gingerbread clock tower face, steampunk/antique inspiration

Next I baked and decorated clouds inspired by this design.

Cloud pieces for clock tower steampunk gingerbread house

I glued reindeer cookies (from this Wilton Christmas Cookie Cutter set) and clouds onto the front and side panel using royal icing. I baked small cookie “spacers” to glue between the reindeer and the panel, so that it gave the reindeer the appearance of floating.

Piece of steampunk clock tower gingerbread house

Side panel of steampunk clock tower gingerbread house

Build.

I taped the foam board roof model together to act as a support for the gingerbread roof pieces. Then I leaned the cookie pieces against the foam board and glued them in place with royal icing.

Roof for steampunk clock tower gingerbread house

I glued together gears, connectors, and more cookie spacers into a design that fit inside the third panel’s archways. This was a bit tricky since there were multiple lays of cookies that needed to be level with each other, and remain intact once the icing dried and I lifted the panel.

Gears inside steampunk gingerbread house clock tower

Once everything had dried, I began assembling the side panels. The trick is to use heavy cans or bottles to support the walls while you apply the icing.

Gluing together all four panels of my steampunk clock tower gingerbread house

I used royal icing to glue together the walls of the clock tower.

Icing together the walls of my steampunk clock tower gingerbread house

I reinforced the seams from the inside with more icing.

Inside of steampunk clock tower gingerbread house

Inside of steampunk clock tower gingerbread house

Once the walls were glued together, I added some Victorian embellishments with the royal icing, using these designs as inspiration.

Adding some embellishments with royal icing to my steampunk clock tower gingerbread house

Victorian and steampunk embellishments on clock tower gingerbread house

Meanwhile, I traced the bottom of the roof pyramid and cut out a piece of foam board to use as a base to support it. I glued the pyramid onto the foam base using royal icing. I was able to mask all the foam board seams with royal icing, so that it blended in with the cookie pieces.

After 12 hours, all the icing was solid and sturdy enough to transport the gingerbread house. I transported the tower and the roof separately, and placed the roof on top of the base once it arrived at its destination–The Orlando Museum of Art’s Festival of Trees!

It’s the stroke of midnight…

…and here come Santa’s reindeer!

"Clock Tower" steampunk-inspired gingerbread house - by Kristen Fortenberry "Clock Tower" steampunk-inspired gingerbread house - by Kristen Fortenberry "Clock Tower" steampunk-inspired gingerbread house - by Kristen Fortenberry "Clock Tower" steampunk-inspired gingerbread house - by Kristen Fortenberry

Happy baking and Happy Holidays! -KF