Slap on the sunscreen, we're heading to the beach! It’s hot! There's a cool ocean breeze, bitchin' big surf, cruncher waves and a cheeky seagull squawking for the last hot chip! Our beach bungalow is for sun-seekers, who want to be footloose in the sand and have fun by the sea.
- 185 g unsalted butter, softened
- 155 g (¾ cup) brown sugar
- 180 ml (⅔ cup) golden syrup
- 2 egg yolks
- 550 g (3¾ cups) plain flour, sifted
- 3 tsp ground ginger
- 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1½ tsp mixed spice
- 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 200 g white chocolate melts
- blue food colouring (oil-based)
- 2 eggwhites
- 450 g (3 cups) pure icing sugar, sifted
- various food colourings, for icing
- 2 x 100 g blocks of thin white chocolate (see Note)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Download the gingerbread beach hut template here.
Chilling time 1hour 15 minutes
Resting time 2 hours 30 minutes (for icing to set)
Cut out beach hut template (image 1).
Line baking trays with baking paper.
Place butter and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until light and creamy, about 6–8 minutes.
Add golden syrup, egg yolks, flour, ginger, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda and beat until mixture forms a soft dough.
Turn onto a floured surface and knead to a smooth dough. Divide dough into 2, flatten each into a disc shape, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Working in batches, roll dough between 2 sheets of baking paper to 5 mm thickness. Transfer dough and paper to a tray and freeze for 15 minutes.
Remove from freezer and slide the dough with the paper onto a workbench. Peel off the top sheet of baking paper. Place templates onto dough and cut around using a sharp knife (image 2). (Note: do not cut a door section out of the front wall dough piece, rather cut a separate door as this will be fixed to outside of the beach hut.)
Return to freezer for 15 minutes or until dough is firm.
Remove from freezer, remove the dough trimmings from edges, reserve and wrap in plastic and refrigerate.
Repeat with remaining dough, combining with the reserved trimmings, until you have 9 pieces in total (1 front wall, 1 back wall, 2 side walls, 2 roof sections, 1 door, 1 life buoy and a surf board – we had a little fun and made extra surfboards with the leftover dough).
Place cut gingerbread pieces onto a baking tray lined with baking paper, allowing a little room for spreading. It's best to place similar-sized pieces of dough onto the same tray as these will bake at about the same time. You will probably need to bake in batches, depending on the size of your oven. Refrigerate the other batches until ready to bake.
Bake for 12–15 minutes or until golden. (Smaller pieces of dough will take less cooking time.) You need to trim some of the gingerbread pieces as soon as they come out of the oven. The pieces you need to trim include: the 2 front and back walls, the 2 side walls and the door. Have the matching paper templates for these pieces at the ready. Working quickly and, with one tray at a time, place the matching paper templates onto the hot gingerbread pieces and, using a small sharp serrated knife, trim around templates (image 3). Remove or eat cooked trimmings. If gingerbread becomes too hard while trimming, simply return to oven for a minute or so. Allow gingerbread pieces to cool completely on trays.
Allow the remaining gingerbread pieces that do not need trimming to cool completely on trays.
To make the chocolate weatherboards for walls
For the side walls, cut fourteen 13 cm x 3 cm strips of baking paper (you only need 4 weatherboards for each wall, but we’ve allowed extra in case of breakages). Divide strips into 2 even bundles – one bundle will be white weatherboards and the other will be blue ones.
For the front and back walls, place a sheet of baking paper over the template and trace an outline. Cut out the shape, and repeat twice (so you have three baking paper templates in total, to allow for extra weatherboards in case of breakages). Now cut each of these horizontally into strips, about 3 cm thick. Keep strips in the shape of the wall (as this will make it easier to know which strips to paint blue and which to paint white).
Melt chocolate melts in a heatproof bowl over simmering water or in a heatproof bowl in the microwave oven. Pour half of chocolate into a separate bowl. Mix a little blue food colouring (oil-based) into one bowl of melted chocolate. So you have will have one bowl of blue chocolate and another bowl of plain white chocolate.
Working in batches, lay strips of baking paper on a baking paper lined board on your bench. Using a flat-bladed knife, spread melted chocolate onto paper strips (image 4). Transfer to a tray and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until hard.
Remove the paper from the chocolate. If the chocolate weatherboards have curled slightly, simply turn them over and leave at room temperature until they straighten. Refrigerate weatherboards until ready to use.
To make the royal icing, place eggwhites into a medium mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat until foamy. Gradually beat in icing sugar until you have a very stiff paste. Place in an airtight container or a bowl covered with plastic wrap, then a damp tea towel.
To decorate the life buoy, surfboard and front door, place these pieces onto a baking paper lined board. For each colour you would like to make, place 1 tablespoon of thick royal icing in a small cup and slowly add drops of colouring and drops of water until icing is the consistency of runny yoghurt and your desired colour. Spoon into a small ziplock bag and seal. Repeat until you have a selection of colours you wish to use. Use a clean spoon for each colour and remember to reseal or cover remaining royal icing to prevent drying out. Snip the end of each bag of icing, and pipe your designs onto the pieces – be as creative as you like (image 5). Allow icing to set, about 30 minutes.
To assemble the beach hut
Think of the thick royal icing as glue or mortar (i.e. use plenty). Spoon remaining thick royal icing into a piping bag fitted with a 5 mm star pipe. Pipe plenty of icing along the base edge and side of one of the beach hut wall pieces, then fix to a chopping board or cake board. Use cans or whatever you have in your pantry to secure the wall upright. Do the same with the next adjoining wall until you have built the 4 walls of the beach hut (image 6). Allow to set for about 1 hour or until icing is hard.
To attach the weatherboards, working with one chocolate weatherboard piece at a time, pipe thick royal icing onto the corners and fix to the walls of the beach hut, starting at the base, alternating blue and white and overlapping as you go. If the chocolate pieces need trimming, place onto a flat board and cut using a sharp knife. Allow icing to set the weatherboards in place, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, attach the roof to the beach hut. Working with one side of the beach hut at a time, pipe plenty of thick royal icing along all the top edges of the walls (where the roof will attach to). Carefully sit the roof in place, using cans or whatever you have in your pantry to hold the roof up. Repeat on the other side. Use a teaspoon to smooth over any exposed icing on top and sides.
When the icing is set on the life buoy and the door, pipe thick royal icing on the back of each and fix in place. You may need to prop a can under the buoy to support it while the icing sets.
To decorate the roof
Break chocolate bars into squares. Starting at the base of each roof, pipe thick royal icing onto the back of a chocolate piece, then arrange on roof. Allow each row of chocolate tiles to sit for 10 minutes before adding the next row. Continue working upwards, overlapping the rows to resemble tiles.
We decorated the scene with loads of raw sugar, extra gingerbread surfboards and a hungry seagull looking for some hot chips (image 7).
• It will be easier if your chocolate is marked into squares. We used Lindt Excellence Extra Silky white chocolate.