Our pagoda is for those who want to swap speed for serenity. No wifi here, only chilling out with Mr Elephant.
- 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
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 eggwhite
- 225 g (1½ cups) pure icing sugar, sifted
- 250 g dark chocolate melts
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 pagoda template here.
Chilling time 1 hour 15 minutes
Resting time 3 hours (for icing to set)
Cut out pagoda 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, cinnamon, cloves 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 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. You will need to cut out a door from each of the pagoda lower and upper walls (image 2). Do not peel away the dough trimmings at this stage.
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.
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.) Allow to cool completely on trays.
Repeat with remaining dough, combining with the reserved trimmings, until you have 18 pieces in total (4 lower walls each with a door cut out, 4 upper walls each with a door cut out, 1 lower rooftop, 1 small rooftop, 4 lower small roof sections and 4 upper roof sections).
To build the pagoda
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.
Spoon icing into a large piping bag fitted with a 5 mm star pipe, cover remaining icing with plastic wrap and a damp tea towel (see Note). Think of the icing as glue or mortar (i.e. use plenty).
Start with the 4 lower walls of the pagoda. Pipe plenty of icing along the base edges and side of a wall piece, then fix to a chopping board or cake board. Use cans or whatever you have in your pantry to secure the wall upright (image 3). Do the same with the next adjoining wall until you have built the 4 walls of the lower pagoda section. Allow to set for about 1 hour.
To make the lower roof (the larger one), cut a 14 cm square of clean sturdy cardboard, then cut around each of the corners to make them curved. Place the cardboard onto your benchtop. Pipe plenty of icing along the longest edge of the gingerbread roof piece and also along one of the angled sides, then fix to the cardboard (image 4). Use small cans or whatever you have in your pantry to secure the pieces together. Do the same with the next adjoining roof piece and continue until you have all 4 sections fixed together. Allow to set for about 1 hour.
Next build the upper level of the pagoda. Place the lower rooftop - this is the large square of gingerbread - onto your bench. Pipe plenty of icing around the base edges and side of a wall piece, then fix to the gingerbread square (image 5, on right). 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 upper pagoda section. Allow to set for about 1 hour.
Next make the small upper roof of the pagoda. Working with 2 pieces at a time, pipe icing onto the angled side edge and join to another. Use small boxes or cans to help secure the pieces while they set (image 5, on left). Repeat with the other 2 pieces. Once the icing is set hard, carefully join the 2 corner sections together to make the upper small roof. Pipe a little icing around the edge of the underside of the small upper rooftop (the small square). Carefully sit rooftop onto the upper roof walls. Allow to set for about 30 minutes.
Chocolate thatched roof
Meanwhile, make the chocolate thatched roofing. Using a pencil, trace around the templates onto baking paper so you have: 4 upper roof sections, 4 lower roof sections and 1 upper rooftop. Turn the paper over so the pencil is underneath. Place paper onto flat trays.
Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over simmering water or in a heatproof bowl in microwave. Stir until smooth, allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the chocolate cools slightly and begins to thicken.
Spoon chocolate into a small ziplock bag and snip off one corner with scissors. Pipe a thick thatched-style pattern onto the baking paper, within the traced lines (image 6). Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.
To assemble the pagoda
Place the board that has the lower walls attached to it onto your benchtop. Pipe icing around the top edges of the walls, then sit the lower roof (the larger roof) on top.
Pipe icing around the top edges of the lower roof, then sit the upper wall section, which is attached to the square of gingerbread, on top.
Pipe icing around top edges of the upper walls, then carefully place the upper roof on top.
Pipe icing along the edges of the roof sections, then gently stick on the chocolate thatched pieces. Finish with the small square of chocolate thatching for the very top.
Allow to set for 1 hour.
We used soft brown sugar as the ground cover.
• 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.