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02 December 2007 @ 04:32 am
Last Year's Gingerbread TARDIS -- Big Detailed How-to Post  
TARDIS teaserSince a lot of people have asked, and it's the right time of year, I've decided to make a post here about the gingerbread TARDIS that my friend pnr and I made last Christmas! This community didn't exist at the time, so I posted it over in 500year_diary, but here is a long, detailed how-to post with all you need to know!

So yes, last year, on Christmas Eve, and again on Christmas Day, pnr came over for a few hours, and we built this gingerbread TARDIS together.

The pictures below were taken by me and pnr, and most were  polished up and hosted by pnr. Click all thumbnails for larger images!

First of all, we started by making the dough. You need special gingerbread dough for houses, and this is one I found online. The dough swells up a bit more in the oven than ordinary gingerbread dough, but it gets very sturdy and tough. The house stood well into summer this year, although the signs fell off quite a while before the walls started to sag. The dough needs to be made at least a day in advance.

Measures are metric, since I live in a European country. :)
(NOTE: Half this batch was quite enough for our TARDIS. I added more spices, but this is not important if you don't plan to actually eat the house.)

Gingerbread House Dough
400 gr (a little over 350 ml) granulated sugar
400 gr (a little less than 300 ml) golden syrup
200 gr butter
1 kilo (ca. 1.7 litres) plain flour
25 gr (1½ tbsp) bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground cinnamon
150 ml water

Bring sugar, syrup and butter to the boil in a thick-bottomed saucepan.
Mix all the dry ingredients and stir in the water to make  a dough.
Pour the hot sugar-suryp-butter mix into the flour-and-water, and mix until you have a smooth dough. Let the dough rest overnight, covered with cling film.

½ of an egg white
ca. 200 ml icing sugar
½ tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (or a few drops acetic acid)

Stir the icing sugar little by little into the egg white. When the mix is smooth and holds together well without being too thick, add the lemon juice. Put the frosting into the corner of a plastic food bag, make a knot or put a bag clip on it, and when you are about to begin the frosting, snip off one corner of the bag. Make as small a hole as you can. (You can always make it bigger, but not smaller.)

You also need a big frying-pan to melt sugar in, for the "glue". As big and wide as possible!

Next: Make a paper pattern. A TARDIS is a really simple basic shape, just a square shed, really, so we sat down and draughted it right before starting. This is why the measurements are a bit odd -- we didn't really plan it all that thoroughly! The finished TARDIS is a bit too squat for my taste, but at least it was sturdy. :) Anyway, feel free to alter the dimensions; I'm just posting ours here in case it helps somebody.

You'll need:
1 base square, 13.5 - 14 cm square
4 sides, 21 x 11.5 cm (make the walls narrower if you want the TARDIS to look more proportionate)
4 side panelling pieces, same measurements as the sides (if you want the panel look of the TARDIS; for a simpler version, you can omit these and paint the panels on the sides with frosting instead). Not in the picture below is a pattern for the narrow panel strips that go in the middle of the panelling, between the doors, and right on top of them. That's because we forgot to make a pattern for them and had to cut them out on the fly as we went along. You can see them clearly on the third picture below.
8 corner post pieces, 21 x 1.5 cm
4 Police Public Call Box signs, 1.5 x 10.6 cm
A roof plate, 11 x 11 cm. For the proper tiered roof, you need an additional roof square to put on top of this, 10 x 10 cm or so. Make a hole in the middle of both for the roof light.
Small pieces to make a roof light with, if you don't plan to have a real light. I'm afraid you're on your own for that. :)

You also need to make the window panes and the front plaque out of something. We cheated, and printed out the plaque on ordinary printing paper, and made the window panes out of baking paper (which has that half-transparent quality). The wording on the plaque has varied slightly over the years, and sometimes it has been light text on dark background. Use whatever feels right to you.

We wanted to have a door that stood slightly ajar, so we cut out a door from one of the four side pieces and baked it separately. This also means cutting out the panelling for that door from one of the four panelling pieces, like you see on the pieces in the picture below.

Now, take out the dough, and knead it until it's soft and smooth. Roll it out with a rolling pin (or a clean wine bottle) until it's about 2 millimetres thick. Dust your table top with flour first, it makes it much easier to move the pieces later without messing them up. (I use a metal tea strainer for this.) Then lay the paper patterns on top of the dough, and cut them out carefully, using a scalpel or a sharp knife, or whatever you find works best. I used a metal dough scraper, which made really nice straight cuts.

Carefully transfer the pieces onto a baking sheet with non-stick baking paper on it (or just greased).

Heat the oven to ca. 200º C. Bake the pieces for 6-9 minutes -- times vary with ovens, check them as they bake!
We made a little mistake when we made our sides, which turned out to be a stroke of luck. We forgot to put the panelling bits on top of two of the sides before putting them in the oven -- so we had to put the pannelling on when the bottom layer was already done, and bake it again. It made the walls darker, but it really brought out the structure, AND those two walls didn't bloat as much -- they kept their shape much better! So this is what I recommend you do!

Check the finished pieces against the patterns as soon as you take them out of the oven. If they have altered shape too much, you can trim them with a sharp knife while they are still hot and soft. After they have cooled off, this is not possible.

When all the pieces are done, I recommend writing the text on the Police Public Call Box signs, as it's much easier to do before you stick them onto the TARDIS. So bring out that bag of frosting and snip the corner! Also, if you are going to make the panelling with frosting, you should consider doing that now as well. Also, now is the time to stick the window panes onto the insides of the window openings, and the front plaque onto the front wall. We used frosting for this.

Next, melt some sugar in that wide frying pan. This is a bit tricky, you need to keep the sugar from burning (too much), but you also need to keep it melted. N.B.: Melted sugar is really hot. Take care.
Dip the long edges of the four walls into the melted sugar and stick them together immediately. It sets really quickly. Then, dip the whole bottom of the square structure into the sugar, and set it onto the base. The door goes next.

Hopefully, the walls will be of roughly equal height, so that you can glue the roof on quite easily.

Then the eight corner posts pieces. The easiest way is to stick them on with lots of frosting, since you can't really dip the whole structure into the sugar at this stage. You can try glueing the corner posts together first, but you need to get the angle exactly right. We didn't trust ourselves that far. N.B. that frosting takes much longer to set than the melted sugar!

Last of all, glue the four signs onto the corner posts, above the doors.


(Please note that the thing on the top is a makeshift light -- we really wanted to get a big blinking diode light, but didn't think of it in time, i.e., before all the shops closed for X-mas.)

And just for good measure, here are a couple of more pictures, for your enjoyment:


And, last but not least, an example of pnr's mastery with Photoshop:

Good luck! :)
redheadedali: Christmas TARDISredheadedali on December 2nd, 2007 03:35 am (UTC)
I am in awe. That is great :).
dameruth: gingerdameruth on December 2nd, 2007 03:43 am (UTC)
Wow. You guys rock at this stuff. :D

Been getting lots of compliments on my new icon when I use it; I always direct credit back to you! ;)
therru: Gingerbread TARDIStherru on December 2nd, 2007 03:47 am (UTC)
Yay! :)
(no subject) - wicked_g on December 2nd, 2007 07:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - dameruth on December 2nd, 2007 07:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - x_los on December 15th, 2007 11:42 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - therru on December 15th, 2007 04:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - candywarhol25 on December 10th, 2008 09:06 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Ruthcherishthepast on December 2nd, 2007 04:05 am (UTC)
Your gingerbread TARDIS is made of win.
nelle (with one hand in a mound of planets)builtofsorrow on December 2nd, 2007 04:45 am (UTC)
I am officially in love with this. Have been since the minute I stumbled across it back in September. ^^

This is the gingerbread TARDIS my roommate and I made a couple of months ago using your model. The craftsmanship is rather shoddy, I admit, and we forgot the paper for the windows, and other various issues, but it's held up well. I definitely want to try again; it was fantastically fun.

Edited at 2007-12-02 04:59 am (UTC)
therru: Ten smokytherru on December 2nd, 2007 12:03 pm (UTC)
But it's BLUE! Did you put blue crosting all over, or did you dye the dough?
(no subject) - builtofsorrow on December 5th, 2007 02:40 am (UTC) (Expand)
merlaezn: DT on Weakest Linkmerlaezn on December 2nd, 2007 06:40 am (UTC)
I'm such a silly billy. I just accidentally commented to this on your old GB TARDIS post. *copies and pastes*

Yay! Gingerbread TARDIS! I'm going to try to convince my slightly-less-geeky-than-me friend to build a TARDIS rather than a gingerbread house like we were planning. *crosses fingers*

Assuming that's ok with you, of course...
therru: Gingerbread TARDIStherru on December 2nd, 2007 12:18 pm (UTC)
The world needs more Gingerbread TARDISes!
(no subject) - merlaezn on December 2nd, 2007 06:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - therru on December 2nd, 2007 07:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - chanel_sunglass on June 26th, 2010 06:53 am (UTC) (Expand)
caffeine-addled brain of smurf: Doctor Who » TARDISpurple_smurf on December 2nd, 2007 06:48 am (UTC)
I was looking for something just like this last year, and couldn't find it. I'm so very glad you did it all up like this -- now I have a reference when I get around to making my own! (I'm thinking of using a small piece of ginger candy for the light, though, as I don't see the point of making a gingerbread ANYTHING if you don't then eat it)
therru: Gingerbread TARDIStherru on December 2nd, 2007 12:07 pm (UTC)
It all depends on how hardcore you are! XD I really think everything should be edible, myself, but we thought of this like the day before, so we didn't have time to find rice paper and stuff.

I did intend to eat it, too, but I couldn't bring myself to break it apart until it was far too dusty and stale! XD (Like a month ago or so)
(Deleted comment)
therru: Tardis - magic boxtherru on December 2nd, 2007 12:08 pm (UTC)
Ha ha, see my reply to the comment above... :)
penwiper337penwiper337 on December 2nd, 2007 04:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for writing this up! What a great how-to. :)
pnr on December 3rd, 2007 09:26 am (UTC)
how nice of you to put together our inasnity like this!

I seriously can't believe it lasted as long as it did... especially considering all the panic about the super-houses for the big contest and stuff all died due to humidity. One hell of a dough you found XD

With this being such a success we certainly need to up the stakes a bit this year XD Oh my.
More planning needs to be done though, way more. Papermodel first.
therru: Tardis - magic boxtherru on December 3rd, 2007 10:45 am (UTC)
Affirmative! :)
(Deleted comment)
therru: Death of Ratstherru on December 7th, 2007 11:40 pm (UTC)
Gosh! Thank you. :)
Alleyalleynyc on December 11th, 2007 02:09 am (UTC)
That is awesome. AS is the Police Phone Box in SPACE!!! Excellent! Hugs.
coach_outlets_ccoach_outlets_c on June 26th, 2010 02:27 am (UTC)
Great stuff!
Hiding in plain sightwulfae on January 2nd, 2008 08:09 pm (UTC)
Great instructions, except for the whole sugar boiling thing. How on earth do you do that?
therru: Gingerbread TARDIStherru on January 2nd, 2008 11:45 pm (UTC)
A cast iron frying pan is best, just pour some plain granulated sugar into it and heat it until it melts. :) Simple as that. You can see some pics (though not all that descriptive) of it in my post about our gingerbread K-9.

Just take care to not overheat it, it burns quickly and smells of... burnt sugar. Just enough heat to keep it melted. Then you just dip the edges of the gingerbread pieces into the liquid sugar and stick them where they are to go. Be quick, because it sets really fast. Also, take care not to burn your fingers, melted sugar is way hotter than boiling water. Keep close to running cold water if you need it...

When you're done, the brown, burnt sugar in the frying pan can be washed out with hot water. If you didn't burn it too much (and didn't use a frying pan smelling of fish or bacon), it still tastes pretty nice, so you can try and remove the pieces and use them to sweeten coffee or tea. :)
Queen Em: Awesomenessemstapole on October 30th, 2008 11:05 pm (UTC)
I know this post is 10 months old, but omg so completely going to try to do! I tend to go to a charity gingerbread making session each Christmas, and last year they took phoots of my AWESOME tree and will put it up on the big fancy monitor so I have to come up with something new and original because people are gonna think I made the tree to copy the fancy one up on the big screen!

So, modified!Tardis here we come!
therru: Gingerbread TARDIStherru on October 31st, 2008 01:01 pm (UTC)
Good luck! The world needs more gingerbread TARDISes! :D

Did you see the K-9 we did last year? *feels proud*
(no subject) - emstapole on October 31st, 2008 09:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
therru: Gingerbread TARDIStherru on December 9th, 2008 10:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :)
zemhitchhiker on December 19th, 2010 09:14 pm (UTC)
therru: Gingerbread TARDIStherru on December 19th, 2010 09:28 pm (UTC)
Wow! Cool! Nice to hear that this gingerbread TARDIS makes me sexy. :)
(no subject) - hitchhiker on December 19th, 2010 09:40 pm (UTC) (Expand)