Download your free gingerbread outback template here.
Pitch a tent in the outback under the Milky Way. Our gingerbread tent celebrates our native ingredients - it's flavoured with lemon myrtle - and the 'red' earth is made from crushed chocolate biscuits.
- 550 g (33¾ cups) plain flour
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground lemon myrtle leaf
- ¼ tsp ground white pepper
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 185 g unsalted butter, softened
- 165 g (¾ cup) brown sugar
- 180 ml (⅔ cup) treacle
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 eggwhite
- 225 g (1½ cups) pure icing sugar (about), sifted
- brown food colouring
- a small piece of netting (we used pieces of sinamay, available from craft stores)
- small twigs
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 20 minutes
Resting time 4.5 hours (for icing to set)
- Cut out the tent template (see above).
- Sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon myrtle, pepper, cloves and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl.
- Place butter and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until light and creamy, about 4 minutes. Add treacle and egg yolks and beat until well combined.
- Add flour mixture and beat until mixture forms soft dough.
- Turn onto a floured surface and knead to smooth dough. Divide dough into 2, flatten each into a disc shape. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
To make the gingerbread tent
- 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 1).
- Return to freezer for 10 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 6 pieces in total (1 front, 1 back, 2 side sections and 2 roof sections).
- Return cut gingerbread pieces to freezer until ready to bake.
To make the tent door
- Remove the tent front from the freezer. Place the ‘tent door’ template on top, then cut around using a sharp knife (image 2). Return to freezer for 10 minutes or until dough is firm, then remove the cut-out door piece.
To make the tent window
- Remove the 2 roof sections from the freezer. Use the end of a skewer to make 2 holes in the base edge of each (you will be attaching tent pegs to the holes) (image 3).
- Place the ‘tent window’ template on top of one of the roof sections, then cut around using a sharp knife. Return to freezer for 10 minutes or until dough is firm, then remove the cut-out window piece.
- Preheat oven to 180ºC. Line 6 baking trays with baking paper.
- 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. (Working with one at a time makes it easy to be able to trim each piece successfully after it’s baked).
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden. (Smaller pieces of dough will take less cooking time).
- Working quickly, and with one tray at a time, transfer the cooked gingerbread and its baking paper to a wooden board, place the matching paper template onto 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, including the tent door and tent window.
To decorate the tent
- 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. Add a few drops of brown food colouring and mix in until you the colour of the icing matches the tent.
- To decorate, spoon icing into a large piping bag fitted with a 5 mm star nozzle.
- Tie a length of string through each hole in the roof sections (image 5).
- Use the tent door template and tent window templates to cut out pieces of netting. Roll the window piece of netting and tie with string. Cut tent door netting in half. Pipe icing along edge of window and attached rolled netting piece. Pipe icing along the door edges of the tent front and attach the netting pieces. Allow icing to set 30 minutes (see Note).
To assemble the tent
- Think of the icing as glue or mortar (i.e. use plenty) (see Note). Start with the front, back and side walls of the tent. 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 tent (image 6). Allow to set for about 2 hours or until icing is hard.
- Once the walls are set, tie a small twig to the string length on each side of the roof sections (to make the tent pegs), then 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 stacked matchboxes or whatever you have in your home to secure the roof in place. Repeat on other side. Allow icing to set firm, about 2 hours.
We used a little Blu-Tack to secure the twigs in place around the tent, then we decorated the surrounds with crushed chocolate biscuits to look like outback dirt. We added a plastic toy dingo and made a campfire from twigs and string.
• Between assembling of the tent, 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).
Ground lemon myrtle from Herbies.