Non-gingerbread cookies suitable for construction
September 4, 2017 4:48 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to construct a box or perhaps a cake stand sort of thing out of cookies that I can then use to display yet more cookies. Please give me recipes that make cookies suitable for building so: ones that taste good, are strong, hold a shape well etc. And if you've got any cookie construction tips I'll take those too.

I'm planning to make a cookie based birthday cake stand in for a friend who prefers cookies to cake.

I'm thinking of the episodes of Great British Bake Off where contestants make 3-D scenes or towers or in one memorable episode a box that is made of delicious and edible cookies.

I'd like to avoid gingerbread because I don't think it's too the birthday boy's taste and also because I'd like something that had more of a shortbread-y texture if possible.

I'm an experienced baker with a well supplied kitchen and am not adverse to buying specialty flours etc if need be.
posted by Saminal to Food & Drink (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have made cookie houses using the "rich rolled sugar cookies" recipe from the Joy of Cooking. So those are definitely structural enough, although not quite the right texture.
posted by keeo at 5:10 PM on September 4, 2017

If you have to "glue" things together, and you probably will, you want to use royal icing made with meringue powder. If you try to make your own with with egg whites, it will come out too wet and take forever to dry. Follow the recipe for royal icing on the back of the meringue powder canister, but use slightly less water than it calls for. Try to have your pieces already propped in place when you pipe, and don't try to take the structural support away until the icing has dried.
posted by Soliloquy at 8:38 PM on September 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have only ever used gingerbread (because it is traditional! ) but you really want something that is properly hard and crispy. Any kind of softness or crumbleyness will make it very hard to work with. It also needs to stay crisp when you put damp icing on it.

My top tip is that when you draw your templates you need to account for the fact that your biscuits will expand slightly when cooked. I ended up having to bake a new roof at 3am because mine was 2cm too short with the added length from expansion and joints.
posted by kadia_a at 6:08 AM on September 5, 2017

One of the things that makes "shortbread texture" in my mind is the tendency to crumble; that's not really ideal for building with. Look for cut-out cookies, whether that's sugar cookies or whatever (chocolate can be a nice color for roofing materials).

I've built a lot of gingerbread houses, usually with custom architecture i.e. not just basic rectangles, but gables and porches and nonsense, involving a pattern carefully drawn out on paper, which I then use as a template. One thing that I've found is key for a good build is to have all the edges straight and square. A good building recipe will have minimal spread, but it'll still pick up some curvature to the edges. So order of events: roll the dough, set the template on top, and cut around with a knife, except for any delicate bits. Use a thin spatula to transfer to the cookie sheet (or roll it on parchment paper and transfer the whole thing). Check with the template on the baking sheet that it hasn't stretched too oddly. Bake. Pull it out of the oven, and while it's still hot, set the template on top; it will have spread just a bit beyond the pattern, so use a sharp knife to trim the edges (while it's still hot and soft). Let it cool, and it'll crisp up as it cools. If you realize something is the wrong shape, put it back in the oven just a minute, to warm up, and it will be soft enough to cut without being crisp/hard/fragile.
posted by aimedwander at 9:12 AM on September 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

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