Our A-frame cabin in the woods is for those who want a quiet place by a log fire to contemplate and commune with critters. BYO marshmallows for toasting.
- 250 g unsalted butter, softened
- 200 g (1 cup) brown sugar
- 250 ml (1 cup) golden syrup
- 2 egg yolks
- 750 g (5 cups) plain flour, sifted
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 eggwhites
- 450 g (3 cups) pure icing sugar, sifted
- 5 x 100 g blocks of thin dark chocolate (see Note)
- 1 tbsp icing sugar, sifted for decoration, extra
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 log cabin template here.
Chilling time 45 minutes
Resting time 4 hours (for icing to set)
Cut out log cabin template (image 1).
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 3, flatten each into a disc shape. Wrap only one of these large discs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Do not refrigerate the other two discs as you will be rolling it into logs to make the cabin walls – the log walls work best with dough that is freshly made and not refrigerated.
Preheat oven to 180ºC. Line 3 baking trays with baking paper.
To make the cabin front and back log walls
Working with one disc of freshly made dough at a time, and covering the remaining dough with a tea towel, take golf ball-sized pieces of dough and roll with the palms of your hands on your benchtop into sausage lengths, about 1 cm thick.
Using the template “cabin front and back” as a guide, arrange the dough logs on a lined tray and press logs gently together. Continue rolling logs until you have formed the cabin front wall. Repeat the process to make the cabin back wall. Place the template on top of the walls and using a sharp knife cut around the template (image 2). Remove and reserve dough trimmings. Refrigerate the cabin front and back walls for 15 minutes.
To make the cabin side walls
Roll more dough logs. Using the template “wall” as a guide, arrange the dough logs onto a lined tray and press logs gently together. Continue rolling logs until you have formed 2 cabin side walls. Place the template on top and using a sharp knife cut around the template. Remove and reserve dough trimmings. Refrigerate cabin side walls for 15 minutes.
Remove and gather all dough trimmings together, form into a small disc and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
To make the cabin roof
Working in batches, roll the large refrigerated disc of 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 roof template onto dough and cut around using a sharp knife (image 3). Do not peel away the dough trimmings at this stage. Place on a baking tray and return to freezer for 15 minutes or until dough is firm.
Repeat process with the small disc of refrigerated dough to make 1 door and 4 chimney sections. Freeze for 15 minutes or until dough is firm.
Remove front, back and side walls from freezer. Bake for 14–18 minutes or until lightly golden. Working quickly, and with one wall at a time, place the matching paper template onto the cooked gingerbread and, using a small sharp serrated knife, trim around template. Remove or eat cooked trimmings. For the cabin front wall, place the paper door template in place and cut out a door (image 4). Remove the cooked door section (you can eat this, too, as it is not needed for assembly). Allow to cool completely on trays.
Now, remove the remaining dough pieces from the freezer (1 door, 2 roof sections and 4 chimney sections). Remove the dough trimmings from edges.
Bake the roof pieces for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool completely on trays. (Note: the roof sections are not trimmed after baking.)
Bake the door and chimney sections for 6–7 minutes or until golden, then working quickly, remove from oven, place the paper door template on top of the cooked door and, using a small sharp serrated knife, trim around template. Discard or eat trimmings. (Note: the chimney sections are not trimmed after baking.) Allow to cool completely on tray.
To assemble the log cabin
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 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 small window outlines onto the cabin back wall and both side walls (image 5). Pipe icing around the edge of the door to make an outline and add a dot for a door handle (image 5). Allow icing to set for 30 minutes.
Spoon some icing into a medium piping bag fitted with a 5 mm star pipe to use for assembling the log cabin. Think of the icing as glue or mortar (i.e. use plenty).
Start with the cabin front, back and side walls. Pipe plenty of icing around base edge and sides of the front wall, then fix to a chopping board or cake board (image 6). 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 cabin. Allow to set for about 2-3 hours or until icing is hard.
Meanwhile, assemble the chimney by piping icing along edges, then fixing together. Use small cans to help the sections stay together while icing is setting, about 1 hour. Once chimney is firmly set, pipe plenty of icing around its edges and attach to one side of of the log cabin roof. Allow to set firm, about 1-2 hours.
Once the chimney is set firmly on the roof, it’s time to finish the log cabin. Working with one side of the log cabin at a time, pipe plenty of 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 (image 7). Repeat on the other side.
Pipe a little icing along the inner edge of the door and attach to the front of the cabin, slightly ajar.
Allow all icing to set 2 hours or more or until icing has hardened.
To decorate the roof
Break chocolate bars into squares. Starting at the base of each roof, pipe 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. You will need to cut chocolate pieces to fit around the chimney.
Sift icing sugar over roof to resemble snow.
We decorated the scene with pine trees, cute woodland animals, a fence made from twigs (and a hot glue gun) and heaps of fun faux snow.
• It will be easier if your chocolate is marked into squares. We used Cadbury’s Coco 70% dark chocolate block.
• Keep royal icing in a bowl, tightly covered in plastic wrap, then cover bowl with a damp tea towel to prevent icing from drying out.