Gingerbread Man

Christmas: is there a better time of year for constructing houses out of gingerbread? In a word, yes. There most certainly is, at least if you live in Australia. In fact, Christmas is the worst possible time for that activity. 

Gingerbread houses were invented in places with exceptionally cold festive seasons, and they just don’t work when you add the heat and humidity of a Sydney summer. It might work marginally better in Melbourne, where humidity tends to be lower, but even the dry heat down there doesn’t make for much better conditions. 

In all, it adds up to good conditions for commercial solar installers, Sydney councils looking to attract European tourists, and ice cream vendors. But for bakers forced to meet a demand for gingerbread houses? Not so great. Even amateur bakers like myself feel the pressure to deliver this out-of-season treat, with friends and family members queuing up around the block to put in an order – despite my vain attempts to explain the problem.

Every year without fail, I let myself get roped into doing it, and this year is no exception. When will I learn? At least people don’t complain when they come out wonky, with walls slightly collapsing in on themselves and unintentionally curved roofs. If I was a pro baker, the expectations would be much higher, but I’d be labouring under the same seasonal conditions. 

I guess one of the benefits of solar power for business is that you could have the air con on full blast without contributing to making everything even hotter in the long term. To that end, you’d think solar powered bakeries would be more of a thing in this part of the world, but mostly you just see bakers sweating the fact that their whole order of gingerbread houses has collapsed in the December heat. 

I guess one thing to try would be making them less elaborate – maybe an A-frame structure would do the trick. It’s not the same, though. The whole point of a gingerbread house is that it’s unnecessarily elaborate.