Download your free gingerbread bush shack template here.
Hands up who needs a tranquil bush escape among the eucalpypts? Our bush shack is just for you, complete with a chocolate chimney. Our gingerbread celebrates our native ingredients - it's flavoured with lemon myrtle.
- 750 g (5 cups) plain flour
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 tsp ground lemon myrtle leaf (see Note)
- 250 g unsalted butter, softened
- 200 g (1 cup) brown sugar
- 250 ml (1 cup) golden syrup
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 eggwhites
- 450 g (3 cups) pure icing sugar (about), sifted
- 500 g block milk chocolate, broken into squares
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.
Chilling time 15 minutes
Freezing time 45 minutes
Resting time 7 hours (for icing to set)
- Cut out the bush shack template (image 1).
- Sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl. Stir in the lemon myrtle.
- Place butter and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until light and creamy,
- about 5 minutes. Add golden syrup and egg yolks and beat until well combined.
- Add flour mixture and beat until mixture forms a soft dough.
- Turn onto a floured surface and knead to a smooth dough. Divide dough into 3, flatten each into a disc shape. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 4 baking trays with baking paper.
To make the gingerbread shack
- Working in batches, roll a disc of dough between 2 sheets of baking paper to 4 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).
- Return to freezer for 10 minutes or until dough 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 7 pieces in total (2 side walls, 1 front wall, 1 back wall, 2 roof sections and 1 front awning).
- Return cut gingerbread pieces to freezer until ready to bake.
- Use the dough trimmings to make verandah posts. Use your palms to roll a golf ball-size portion of dough on a lightly floured surface to make a log shape about 1.5 cm thick x 18 cm long. Cut the log into 2 and place on a baking tray lined baking tray. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes or until ready to bake.
To make a pattern on the roof and front awning
- Just before baking, take the 2 roof sections and the front awning section and firmly press a piece of narrow rod (dowel) or similar object vertically across the sections to make lines (image 3) – you want it to look like corrugated iron.
- 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.
- Bake for 10-14 minutes or until lightly golden. (Smaller pieces of dough will take less cooking time).
- Working quickly, and with one wall at a time, transfer the cooked gingerbread and its baking paper to a wooden board, place the matching paper template onto the cooked gingerbread and, using a small sharp serrated knife, trim around template (image 4). Remove or eat cooked trimmings. If gingerbread becomes too hard while you are trimming, simply return to oven for 1 minute. Return gingerbread onto the hot baking tray and allow to cool completely on the tray. Repeat until you have baked and trimmed all gingerbread sections. Once baked, trim each verandah post to measure 9 cm in length, then allow to cool on tray.
To decorate the bush shack
- 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.
- To decorate, spoon some of the icing into a small piping bag fitted with a 2 mm plain nozzle. Cover remaining icing with plastic wrap and a damp tea towel (see Note).
- Pipe windows onto one of the side walls (image 5) (the other wall will have the chocolate chimney against it).
- Pipe a door and 2 windows onto the front and back walls.
- Allow icing to set for 30 minutes.
To assemble the bush shack
- Think of the icing as glue or "mortar" (i.e. use plenty). Spoon some icing into a medium piping bag fitter with a 5 mm star pipe.
- Start with the front, back and side walls of the bush shack. Pipe plenty of icing around edge and side of the back wall, 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 bush shack (image 6). Allow to set for about 2 hours or until icing is hard. Return icing to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a damp tea towel (see Note).Once the walls are set, working with one side at a time, pipe plenty of icing along all the top edges of the walls (where the roof will attach to). Carefully place the roof in place, using cans or whatever you have in your pantry to secure the roof in place. Repeat on other side. Allow all icing to set firm, about 2 hours. Once the roof icing has hardened, you can attach the awning to the front of the bush shack. Find 2 small cans or small books that are 9 cm tall (you can stack items on top of each other to make the height) to use to support the awning while the icing is setting.
- Pipe plenty of icing along the longest edge of the awning section. Carefully place it to sit on the front roof edge, and support it at a height of 9 cm with the cans or small books. Working quickly, pipe icing onto the top and base of each of the verandah posts, then carefully attach to the base board and fit underneath the awning. Allow icing to set for about 2 hours. Return icing to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a damp tea towel (see Note).
To make the chocolate chimney
- Pipe a little royal icing onto the base of each chocolate square, then stack chocolate like bricks to make a chimney at the side of the of the bush shack. Allow icing to set, about 1 hour.
We decorated the bush hack with leaves cut up with scissors, a small bundle of twigs as firewood and some cute bush animals. The bush dirt is made from crushed chocolate biscuits.
• Ground lemon myrtle leaf is available online.
• Between assembling of the bush shack, return the royal icing to a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a damp tea towel or place in a tightly sealed plastic container to prevent icing from drying out. Rinse piping nozzle and bag (or use disposable piping bags).
Photography, styling and food preparation by China Squirrel. Thanks to Herbies for their ground lemon myrtle and Custom Dollhouse for their miniature upholstered chair. Illustrated template by Sarah Hankinson from The Ilustration Room. Creative concept by Belinda So.