How to get pieces to exact shapes

by Jeremy
(London, ON, Canada)

I've always had a thing for building complex gingerbread houses, but a problem that has plagued me for years is getting the pieces to the right shape without having to do piles of post-bake trimming and cutting (which often breaks pieces!).


Is there a good way to get a piece to be very accurate without doing this?

My usual steps are to roll out the dough, cut the piece from my cardboard or foam core model, transfer it to the sheet, bake, then take it out. after this I place the model on it again to see how it compares, and trim it if needed (and it's always needed :( ).

Often the transferring to the baking sheet stage causes stretching, and sometimes tearing problems.

Any suggestions appreciated!

Jer

Comments for How to get pieces to exact shapes

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Nov 28, 2011
Cut Twice
by: Gingerbread Chef

Cut out your pieces, bake for 3/4 of the time pull them out of the oven , place your patteren over the pieces and cut again not pushing down on the patteren.A very sharp knife is key. Then finish baking them.
This is time consuming but exact. You do have to wear some hot gloves and make sure your patteren is not thin cardboard or paper as they will curl up on the second (hot)cut.
Keep Creating!

Nov 30, 2009
More tips for exact shapes
by: Anonymous

Cut the dough with a cookie cutter. I do this directly onto Silpat, so I don't have to worry about the dough sticking. Make sure your recipe doesn't use baking soda (or omit it.) Otherwise, the dough will rise too much and warp. I use a recipe where I just omit the baking soda but still use the baking powder, and it still tastes great but is much more manageable. If you must modify the piece, do it when the piece is still hot from the oven. for smaller pieces, I use scissors. I do this often because I like to make 3-D trees, and the connecting puzzle piece spaces like to smaller in the oven. If you make 3-D trees, I highly recommend connecting them while they are still hot because they will be a little more flexible and will not break as easily. (Just go slowly.)

Aug 23, 2009
How to get pieces to exact shapes
by: Gramma Linda

If you roll your dough out between two sheets of Parchment paper (sold by Wilton's, but also in most grocery stores by a major company (it's cheaper)) lay your patterns on the dough, cut around the patterns, and then pull away the excess, you can transfer the bottom sheet of parchment paper directly to ungreased cookie sheet and bake as usual right on the paper. You still should check the pieces with the pattern and trim any imperfections off right after you take from the oven. After is has cooled about ten minutes or so, you can remove the paper and finish cooling the pieces. This method doesn't "stretch" the dough moving it onto the cookie sheet.

Jul 16, 2009
Keeping Gingerbread shapes
by: Anonymous

Cut your pieces out on the cookie sheet, refrigerate the cut out dough for 5-10 minutes then bake.

Oct 24, 2008
I'd love that "cakey" recipe
by: Kelly

Dear Anonymous, your method of baking a more "cakey" gingerbread and THEN cutting out pieces and microwaving sounds really interesting. Could you possibly share that recipe with us?

Kelly

Oct 24, 2008
Exact Shapes
by: Anonymous

I have always used a more 'cakey' gingerbread recipe which doesn't require rolling. I bake a slightly runny batter in flat pans - when done (cooled) it is still very pliable. I use an exacto knife with cardboard pattern pieces to cut accurately and when all are cut properly I microwave each piece at least once, maybe more (on flat glass tray, and then let cool. The pieces then become very hard and straight - perfect for building. I have made many small pieces this way for park benches, or an intricate sleigh, etc. These pieces can be cut or filed without breaking and give a lovely glossy texture to the house.

Oct 24, 2008
Baking Gingerbread
by: Veronica Arthur

I always roll out my dough directly onto the pan that it will be baked on. Then I cut it out, lift away the unwanted pieces of dough and just leave it on the pan and bake. That way you never even have to lift the gingerbead pieces! I personally use my 18" square cake pan turned upside down (so I can freely move the rolling pin without the sides of the pan interfereing) because the bottom is totally flat and I know the pieces won't end up warped after baking. Just put non-skid pads (or wet towels) underneath so that the pan doesn't slide around as you roll out the dough. You could also use a sheet pan without sides. Hope that helps!

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