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I'd like to make a single cylindrical tower for my gingerbread house this year, about 8 inches in diameter and probably 6-8 inches tall.

This doesn't have to be made in one piece. I'm fine with building it out of 2-4 curved pieces and seaming them together.

What I do not want is to use many flat gingerbread pieces and end up with an octagon or dodecagon that "pretends" that it's round.

The goal of this is to find out a good method for making curved sheets of gingerbread by either shaping them while baking or after.

I'm planning to use Stella Park's recipe for gingerbread to be used for construction, which notes that it's soft (for cutting purposes) when removed from the oven, but I'm not sure if that's soft enough to try to shape after baking, too.

  • 3
    We want pictures of the completed project...! – Stephie Dec 14 '17 at 17:46
  • If you're shaping after baking, the tighter you're trying to roll it, the more likely it's going to break. If you can, you want to put it in a mold (so you're compressing the back side), rather than drape it over a plug (where you'd be stretching the front side) when you shape it. – Joe Dec 14 '17 at 18:39
  • related : cooking.stackexchange.com/q/7928/67 – Joe Dec 14 '17 at 18:40
  • related! meta.stackexchange.com/a/304644/293034 – Erica Dec 18 '17 at 13:36
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Not knowing your recipe too well I’ll assume a gingerbread with a rollable and cuttable texture, like for gingerbread men.

I would use a few empty cans with a slightly smaller diameter than your tower design.

If you cut the can(s) lengthwise in thirds or so, you can drape rectangular strips of dough over them with only some bend, which will put only little gravitational stress on the soft dough during baking. Make sure that the total width of the segments is more than the 360 degrees circle to allow for shrinkage and some extra to cut the edges to fit.

Bake the dough on the molds (with a layer of parchment, ideally) and let the parts cool on the tins as well.

Assemble as you would for the straight walls. A spare can can help keep the parts upright and in shape until the icing “cement” has hardened.

  • Molds like this are done in French cooking for Tuiles. Often a wine bottle or rolling pin is used as the mold. – MeltedPez Dec 14 '17 at 22:04
  • One thing to watch out for is that many cans are coated on the inside, and this coating burns in an oven. So test your cans first. – Chris H Dec 15 '17 at 15:03
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Consider baking your cylinder in or on a mold. (Idea shamelessly stolen from the Great British Baking Show, where this has been done several times.)

To bake in a mold you would need two pieces that would nest inside each other leaving exactly enough room for the uncooked dough. You would need two to keep the cookie from sliding down/off during the early stages of baking before things firm up a bit. Bake completely and cool slightly inside the mold to prevent sagging, then unmold to finish cooling. The benefit of this method is that it allows for a complete cylinder in one piece, but the drawback is having to find two appropriately sized cylindrical pieces of metal or ceramic to bake in (ideally the outside at least is springform, so that you can get the mold off of the baked cookie), which I suspect may be difficult. An easier alternative may be to find something appropriately sized that you can line with cookie dough, and then line and fill the cookie dough with something like rice or beans to bake (think blind baking a pie shell).

Baking on a mold would be much easier. Simply find a couple of half-circle molds, which you could perhaps make yourself with bunched-up foil, drape the dough over and bake. The downside to this method is of course the seam, but it does require baking only two pieces, so only two seams.

Personally, I'd take the blind-bake style approach above, providing you can find a correctly sized cylinder for the outside.

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OK, considerable work, but if you cannot get bending while warm of mold ideas that seem promising, you could construct it out of baked or cut circles stacked and mortared together. A lot of circles of course and you may need to reinforce the inside to keep it stable. You could even do it from blocks, but that would be even more tedious construction.

  • I think it's probably the least good option, mostly because it's got a different appearance than a "smooth" baked cylinder would, but it's a good rethinking of the problem. – Erica Dec 17 '17 at 16:45
  • No question this is, and I intended it to read as a last ditch, if other options fail. I would not even do this as circles myself if I needed to do it, but as arcs pieced together for less waste but more piecing. But, if you wanted a brick effect for the tower, it would be a more viable option. – dlb Dec 19 '17 at 23:28

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