Yes, we know it's only mid-October but we're taking a leaf out of the retail book and getting stuck into the Christmas spirt early. It's not just because we love gingerbread, and we really do, it's in the name of a good cause – the Gingerbread Demolition.
Every year, Melbourne gets a little messy to raise money for Save the Children. This year the Gingerbread Demolition crew are raising funds to support Cubbies, a program that helps newly-arrived asylum seeker children and their families with mentorship, social inclusion and education through play.
For more information on how you can get involved in and/or attend (maybe smash the big house) the Gingerbread Demolition on 10 December visit their website gingerbreaddemolition.com
The Official Recipe for the Gingerbread Demolition House
*This recipe makes one small house.
For the gingerbread
250g unsalted butter
200g dark muscovado sugar/brown sugar
7 tbsp golden syrup
600g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
6 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon
2 egg whites
500g icing sugar, plus extra to dust
Lollies for decorating (barley sugars for windows)
Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan. Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger into a large bowl, then stir in the butter mixture to make a stiff dough. If it won't quite come together, add a tiny splash of water.
Cut out your template in cardboard or paper.
Put a sheet of baking paper on your bench and roll about one quarter of the dough to approx. half a cm thickness. Cut out one of the sections by tracing your template, then slide the gingerbread, still on its baking paper, onto a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, re-rolling the trimmings, until you have two side walls, a front and back wall and two roof panels. Any leftover dough can be cut into Christmas trees or G-men, if you like.
If you want to make windows, cut out window shapes and spoon in crushed up barley sugars into the holes before baking. You could also stick flaked almonds into the roof panels before baking if you want tiles.
Bake all the sections for 12 mins or until firm and just a little darker at the edges. Leave to cool for a few mins to firm up, then trim around the templates again to give clean, sharp edges. Leave to cool completely - gingerbread is soft when it's hot so don't try to rush the construction.
Put the egg whites in a large bowl, sift in the icing sugar, then stir to make a thick, smooth icing. Spoon into a piping bag with a medium nozzle. Pipe generous snakes of icing along the wall edges, one by one, to join the walls together. Use a small bowl or book to support the walls from the inside, then allow to dry, ideally for a few hours.
Once dry, remove the supports and fix the roof panels on. If the angle is steep, you may need to hold these on firmly for a few mins until the icing starts to dry. Dry completely, ideally overnight. Use remaining icing (or make fresh icing) to decorate as desired!
Your gingerbread house will be edible for about a week but will last a lot longer.