Foolproof royal icing recipe and decorating tips for perfect gingerbread

My foolproof royal icing recipe

This recipe is the icing on the cake - or, should I say, the gingerbread. Getting the perfect icing is crucial to all of my bakes and builds, as not only is it how I make all of the bespoke details and patterns in my designs, but it’s also how I stick all of my pieces together! This means I need an icing that’s robust and dependable, but also malleable enough for me to be able to colour it, manipulate it, and perfect tiny finishing touches with it. Too watery, and my builds would fall apart; too thick, and I wouldn’t be able to decorate anything.

You may think it’s an impossible balance to strike but it’s actually really easy to make. No secret tricks, no crazy ingredients - just the right ratios and a steady hand! See my recipe below, and watch the video above to watch it in action.

Ingredients

  • 4 tsp meringue powder

  • 6 tbsp water

  • piping gel (optional)

  • 500g icing sugar (sifted)

  • colours + lustre powder for decoration

Instructions

Mix 4 teaspoons of meringue powder with 6 tablespoons of water and a bit of piping gel until combined. It’ll be quite thin, but with bubbles on top.

NB: Meringue powder is just powdered egg whites, but if you don’t have this you can just use normal egg whites. Piping gel is also optional but if you do have it, use it - it makes for a smoother icing.

Add 500g sifted icing sugar and mix until combined.

Once combined, mix on a high speed for 4-5 minutes.

Decorating tips

I always dye some of the icing brown so that it blends in with the gingerbread and makes the joins and the building less obvious. For both building icing and decorating icing, I use seamless piping bags; you cut the end when you’re ready to start piping, which means you can control the size of the nozzle.

If your biscuit has cracked - and sometimes it does - don’t worry at all! You can incorporate it into your piping design and nobody will ever know.

One of my favourite decorating effects is metallic lustre, because it’s really fun as well as looking elegant. This comes as a powder, which you then mix with alcohol to form a paint - the alcohol evaporates super quickly, leaving you with a perfect metallic sheen. You only need a little bit of lustre (and a tiny bit of alcohol - sorry Mary Berry) to get a really incredible effect.

I personally always favour icing patterns that leave a lot of the gingerbread itself on show but this icing works well as flood icing too!

Ellie Kime
Tips and tricks for building the perfect gingerbread (plus free building template!)

How to make the perfect gingerbread building

Last week, I shared my Construction Gingerbread recipe with you - the one I use for all of my building projects to give you the most delicious gingerbread building ever. This week, I’m sharing all the tips and tricks of construction with you to make sure your build is totally structurally sound, too! Check out the video above and my top tips below for all the insider secrets on perfect gingerbread!

p.s. in the video I’m making one of my heart-shaped gift boxes - at the end of the blog post I’ve included the template and instructions to be able to make your own. If you want the complete Bisc-kit, you can buy them here too.

Tip 1: File your gingerbread

Gingerbread often slightly warps in the oven, so I use a microplane zester to gently and carefully file my gingerbread to ensure it’s the perfect shape again. It’s the best way to make sure your gingerbread pieces have totally flat sides, allowing them to sit perfectly with one another.

Tip 2: Make corners in your gingerbread

For the perfect fit with corner pieces that just slot together, I file them at an angle to create a perfect join. This ensures you have neat lines and pointy corners, rather than overlapping layers.

Tip 3: Use brown icing

It’s no secret that icing is what sticks a gingerbread building together (although it might surprise you that that’s all I use!), but have you ever considered using brown icing for your construction? It’s a much subtler colour that blends in with the gingerbread, meaning your build will look even more seamless. No more leaky, drippy white edges! (Keep your eyes peeled next week for my perfect icing recipe…)

Tip 4: Buy a mini spatula

Mini spatulas are a really inexpensive solution to a very annoying problem. Once your pieces are securely attached, there’ll be excess icing that looks unsightly; use a mini spatula to scrape it off. I have a pointed one that really gets into the corner and leaves it looking clean and smooth.

Fancy making your own heart-shaped gingerbread box?

As promised, here’s the downloadable instructions and template absolutely free!

Ellie Kime
How to make the perfect gingerbread for building - Emily's Construction Gingerbread

The perfect gingerbread for building

The clue is in the title: this gingerbread was born to build. It’s the perfect gingerbread recipe for building sturdy Christmas gingerbread houses, or something slightly bigger. It’s the exact recipe I’ve used for all of my wonderful and wacky projects over the years! It’s also the ideal gingerbread to eat, because I never compromise on flavour. What would be the point on making everything out of gingerbread if it couldn’t be eaten at the end?

Perfect gingerbread recipe

Ingredients

  • 200g soft light brown sugar

  • 75ml water

  • 40g black treacle

  • 40g golden syrup

  • 35g mixed ground spices (I use a special blend, but you can use whatever you like - try and remember to include ginger though!)

  • 250g cubed unsalted butter

  • 550g plain flour

  • 5g table salt

Instructions

Melt together the sugar, water, black treacle, golden syrup and mixed ground spices until the sugar has dissolved, but it’s not boiling.

Gradually add 250g cubed unsalted butter, until melted into smooth glossy mixture. Let cool slightly before adding flour.

Pour wet mix into a stand mixer (or large bowl if you're mixing by hand).

Add the flour and salt.

Refrigerate for 20 mins.

Roll to 5mm thick.

Bake at 160(fan)/180 for between 12 and 20 mins depending on the size of the pieces. Let cool on the tray until totally firm (as this is construction gingerbread, you need to avoid it being soft in the middle).

If you like what you see in the video above, I’m making one of the heart shaped boxes you can find in my Bisc Kits! Stay tuned for more how-tos in the coming weeks as I help you prep properly for Christmas…

Ellie Kime
How to make a giant gingerbread structure (and how to order one!)
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Giant gingerbread building replicas

If you know anything about Maid of Gingerbread, you’ll know two things: 1. I love making gingerbread and 2. I LOVE making gingerbread replicas of real life buildings. It’s one of my favourite bits of my job, taking a brief of a beautiful, awe-inspiring structure and translating it into gingerbread format. The breadth of briefs is amazing too, whether you’re looking for a replica palace for a unique event centrepiece or a llama shaped piñata for an experiential dessert with a difference (Yup, I’ve done both!).

If you’ve ever looked at one of my bakes, your first thought was probably ‘how?!’ (sometimes closely followed by ‘why?!’. The answer to the latter is because gingerbread is the best and most delicious building medium; no further questions m’lord.) I thought it’d be a great idea to take you behind the scenes of the process, and explain just how I take giant designs from brief to bake to build. Hopefully it’ll kickstart some inspiration in you and get you thinking about what I can make you out of gingerbread - if you have any ideas head to the bottom of the blog to find out more about the ordering process!

Research

The first step is research. Using Google, Pinterest and Google Earth I research the building or object to get a load of images. Even better, important and famous buildings are now 3D in Google Earth so you can fly around them whilst zooming in and out - it’s a) super cool and b) super helpful! You’d be amazed at the places I’ve explored…

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Templates

Once I’ve got my reference image, it’s time to work out the scale I’m going to work to, drawing rough sketches and diagrams to work out the perfect dimensions. I then cut the shapes out from 2mm thick Kraft board and stick them together using masking tape to create my first mockup of the structure! At this point the design may be a little crude, so I refine it to ensure it’ll work in gingerbread - sometimes this includes a little artistic license to make sure it’s properly sturdy as well as internal structural elements, but it always still looks like the real life building. This is also the stage where the I’ll include holes for the wiring if the design is having internal lighting (like my giant gingerbread Castle Howard).

Week 3 - Template blog.jpg

The bake and the build

When I’m happy with the design I label every component, take a photo of it from every side possible - gotta work those angles - and then demolish it. But don’t fear, as each template is then cut from gingerbread! The shapes are arranged by size on the baking trays to ensure an even bake on all pieces - miniature pieces can bake in as quickly as 7 minutes, but large pieces take 20-25 to be done properly. When they’re cool, then comes the best bit - assembling them again, but this time out of beloved gingerbread! If I have a design that I really like and may want to make again, I often superglue the cardboard template together for visual reference for the future. I’m talking about you, llama piñata.

 image by  Paola de Paola

Fancy commissioning a bespoke gingerbread structure?

Yay! A very good idea, if I do say so myself. Alongside dates and details of the project, I’ll need good quality photos or drawings of the design, as well as reference images for style or decoration. Even better for buildings are the architects’ plans for each side of the building, as I can then print these out and use as immediate templates. This reduces the design time and therefore the cost. One of the main factors when costing a bespoke gingerbread build is the design time as it can take almost as long as the build itself!

How can you order a gingerbread building?

I’d love to hear from you on emily@maidofgingerbread.com - please send me an email and we can get planning…



A Giant Gingerbread Stately Home: Castle Howard Winter Wonderland
CH Blog post 3 [photo credit_ Bompas & Parr].jpg

I know it doesn’t bear thinking about the C word right now, but today I wanted to throw back to one of my favourite projects to date; a giant Christmassy gingerbread replica of Castle Howard. And when I say giant, I do mean giant – it was over 3 and a half metres wide, and 2 and a half metres deep!


The brief - an event centrepiece

The gingerbread build was in collaboration with Bompas & Parr, who are some of my industry heroes: what they do with food is beyond belief, so when I heard I’d be working with them I literally jumped for joy! They wanted a Winter Wonderland version of Castle Howard, a beautiful stately home just outside of York, as well as the estate’s other buildings and monuments to be displayed as the event centrepiece of their epic Christmas decorations. Gingerbread is perfect all year round – but especially at Christmas, obviously…

In the end, I made 8 gingerbread buildings: Castle Howard, the Ray Wood Reservoir, Temple of the Four Winds, Mausoleum, Carmirre Gate, Carlisle’s Obelisk, the train station, and the Earl’s Monument. The top of the Earl’s Monument is a highly detailed gold filigree piece – it was so fiddly (and with a four and a half hour journey, nerve-wracking) but a fun challenge!

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The (ginger)bread

I started with reference images for each of these buildings, to begin the process of working out how to make each one in gingerbread format. Once I’d worked out the template, I made it from cardboard and assembled it to ensure it was structurally sound (I didn’t want to be the one responsible for destroying Castle Howard now, did I?). After that, I used the cardboard templates to build the gingerbread versions. To retain the fine, delicate details of the buildings, I also used icing and pastillage (a kind of super-strong, super-thin, porcelain-like icing) to decorate. As the main house was going to have interior lighting, we also had proper window detailing in there.

To add to the winter wonderland effect, I made a real working train for the set by taking apart a real Hornby set and replacing the chassis with gingerbread and icing. It required a lot of playing in the studio to ensure it worked, but sometimes you’ve got to make sacrifices for work, right?! When there’s a will, there’s a gingerbread way – the words I live by…

Week 4 -Christmas [photo credit_ Bompas & Parr].jpg

The build

Now, I know what you’re thinking – I’m based in Hackney, and Castle Howard is in York. Was that not the most nerve-wracking install ever? And the answer, my friends, is yes, yes it was. After 2 months of designing and making everything, I then had to drive the buildings up to Yorkshire to install (that’s a four and a half hour drive each way!). Once there, I worked with Bompas & Parr on the install, as they’d created the landscaping that the gingerbread was to sit on. It took three of us just to carry the main house in, and I had to take lots of spares of every component in case stuff broke! In the end though, it arrived in perfect condition.

Once set up, the gingerbread Castle Howard was displayed for month in the lead up to Christmas 2016. It’s one of the many things I love about gingerbread– and believe me, there are many – but once it’s there, it stays there!

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Do you fancy a large scale build or event centrepiece made entirely from gingerbread? If you do, get in touch with me here - I’d love to hear from you!

All photo credits: Bompas & Parr

Ellie Kime
A Gingerbread Grand Budapest Hotel for a Wes Anderson Inspired Wedding Shoot

A beautiful Wes Anderson style wedding photoshoot featuring my Gingerbread Grand Budapest Hotel

I feel very lucky that sometimes a work email can make me do an actual little jump for joy!  That’s exactly what happened when I was asked to be part of this Wes Anderson inspired wedding shoot.  I’m a massive Wes fan and there are just so many awesome buildings and objects in his films that are crying out to be transformed into gingerbread versions. At the very top of that list surely has to be The Grand Budapest Hotel; ever since I saw that film I’ve wanted to make a gingerbread hotel worthy of Mendl’s bakery!

This shoot, featured today on Green Wedding Shoes, was the dream-child of colourful, crafty stylists The Wedding Spark and everything was expertly captured by Kirsty Mackenzie.  Just check out all the beautiful little details, colour palettes and symmetry going on here:

 Wes Anderson inspired wedding stationery by  White Cottage Weddings . Photo by  Kirsty Mackenzie .

Wes Anderson inspired wedding stationery by White Cottage Weddings. Photo by Kirsty Mackenzie.

 Wes Anderson inspired wedding at  The Barn at Avington . Photo by  Kirsty Mackenzie .

Wes Anderson inspired wedding at The Barn at Avington. Photo by Kirsty Mackenzie.

Making The Gingerbread Grand Budapest Hotel

As with most big 3D builds I started by studying lots of images of the hotel, including screenshots from the original film along with some illustrators’ interpretations and other drawings.  Then I made a scale cardboard model of the building to work out which aspects I wanted to include, how to put it all together, and how many biscuits to use in the final design.

 Plans and template-making for The Gingerbread Grand Budapest Hotel

Plans and template-making for The Gingerbread Grand Budapest Hotel

Once I was happy with my version of the hotel (I wanted to make it recognisable, but retaining my signature style with lots of natural gingerbread and piped icing details) I created templates from the cardboard building and used them to bake all the biscuit components.  Then came the fun bit - hand piping over 100 windows in different shades of pink! Once these were set I carefully assembled all the main hotel components, adding icing turrets to the two wings and then added the roof pieces.

 Hand-piped icing windows on The Gingerbread Grand Budapest Hotel. Photo by  Kirsty Mackenzie .

Hand-piped icing windows on The Gingerbread Grand Budapest Hotel. Photo by Kirsty Mackenzie.

Finally, I painted the roof and turret domes with edible metallic silver paint (my favourite!), added lots of tiny edible pink pearls to accentuate the details around the windows, and some edible diamonds along the rooftop to give it a beautiful sparkly luxurious finish.

 The Gingerbread Grand Budapest Hotel.  Photo by  Kirsty Mackenzie .

The Gingerbread Grand Budapest Hotel.  Photo by Kirsty Mackenzie.

 Just checking it tastes as good as it looks! (Always.) Photo by  Kirsty Mackenzie .

Just checking it tastes as good as it looks! (Always.) Photo by Kirsty Mackenzie.

Ideas for how to include a bit of Wes Anderson on your wedding day

Even if you don’t want to go ‘full Wes’, there are so many fab ideas that will incorporate just a little bit of his whimsical style into your big day.  For example, these cute pink Mendl’s bakery boxes are perfect for people to take their slice of cake home to savour later on:

 Mendl's cake boxes inspired by Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel. Photo by  Kirsty Mackenzie .

Mendl's cake boxes inspired by Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel. Photo by Kirsty Mackenzie.

A colourful piano-based cocktail bar with stunning floral display would make an amazing focal point in almost any style of venue and can be totally personalised to fit with your colour scheme (and favourite drinks!).

 Piano bar by  With These Hands , flowers by  The Wild Fox . Photo by  Kirsty Mackenzie .

Piano bar by With These Hands, flowers by The Wild Fox. Photo by Kirsty Mackenzie.

Or why not commission a bespoke flag, either as a stunning personalised backdrop or as an alternative table plan?

It was SO much fun to be part of this amazing shoot with an absolute dream team of wedding suppliers.  I absolutely loved creating such an iconic building in edible form. Please do get in touch if your favourite film features a building you’d love to see made out of gingerbread.

If you're feeling inspired and want to get a bit of Wes in your wedding (or life!), head over to Green Wedding Shoes to read the article in full.  Here are the details of all those amazing suppliers:

photography: Kirsty Mackenzie Photography // venue name: The Barn at Avington, Avington, Hampshire, UK // event design: The Wedding Spark // planning: The Wedding Spark // florals: The Wild Fox // wedding dress: Indie Brides // hairpiece: Sophie & Luna // hair stylist: Bridal Hair in Hampshire // makeup artist: Serena Grace MUA // groom attire: Adam Waite and Dapper and Suave // videography: Loved Up Films // paper goods: White Cottage Weddings // handmade details: ceremony backdrop paper from The Wedding Spark // tabletop rentals: Harriet's Table // furniture rentals: Purple Door Props // models: Maxwell James and Georgia Harris // props (piano bar, easel, vintage suitcases, hat boxes) : With These Hands // props (backdrop screen, tambourines, bottles, candlesticks): Lo & Behold Bespoke // light up signs: Locke & Busby // bell tents + rug aisle: Baylily Bell Tents

The Palace of Versailles: A vanilla and green tea biscuit showstopper for The British Museum
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As you might expect, being a Gingerbread Engineer I have a 'wish list' of dream buildings I would love to make in biscuit form.  The Palace of Versailles has been on that list for a long while, so when I received a commission to build it by The British Museum I was so excited!  The Château is just one of the most famous and stunning buildings in the world; what an amazing challenge to recreate it as a biscuit centrepiece.

Making the Biscuit Palace of Versailles

I suggested using vanilla biscuit as a light, summery alternative to gingerbread (and to better match the pale stonework of the real building), along with matcha green tea biscuits for the surrounding gardens; the natural colour and flavour of the matcha lends itself perfectly to edible greenery.  

Prep work

As with most large scale projects, I started by working out the rough dimensions and then produced a 3D cardboard model of the whole building, from which I made all the templates for the biscuits.  It always looks really messy at this stage, but I really enjoy the process of working out which pieces of the building to incorporate and how to make everything fit together.

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Once all the cardboard engineering is complete, I destroy the 3D model (!) and produce a really detailed plan so that once all the biscuits are baked I know how it all fits back together.  For this project I'd divided the main palace into 3 separate buildings which I joined up during the installation on site.

Construction of the Palace

As well icing all the individual details onto each component part, I baked lots of internal support components to ensure every bit of the building stayed perfectly in place.

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It's my favourite part of any project when it gets to the stage where you can see how the finished building will look.  For the Château, one of these moments was recreating the iconic main courtyard.  I used pastillage to make all the delicate architectural features, along with lots of edible metallic paint to bring it to life.

biscuit palace of versailles edible metallic paint

The gardens

The Château de Versailles would just not be complete without its beautiful gardens.  I chose Japanese matcha green tea biscuits for these, so they would have a really natural look and a deliciously fresh taste.  Over 750 individual green tea biscuits in lots of different shapes went to make up the forest-like gardens that surround the palace, each arranged in an ornate pattern around a central courtyard decorated with chocolate sprinkles.  I also created a series of formal gardens using flat biscuits intricately decorated with piped icing, inspired by the stunning Versailles Orangery.

versailles gardens
making of versailles green tea gardens

Installation

The completed palace and gardens were installed in the absolutely stunning venue that is the Great Hall of The British Museum as the centrepiece for their annual Summer Party.  Even though this is one of the biggest installations I've made it was totally dwarfed by the surrounding architecture!  It was such a joy to make and I loved setting it up amongst their incredible floral decorations.

palace of versailles in british museum
Things to do in the summer with gingerbread

Summertime is creeping in so I wanted to share with you some ways to enjoy the summer in all its biscuity goodness. I mentioned last week about how gingerbread isn’t just for Christmas, it’s for all year round. There is a plethora of uses for gingerbread aside from building gingerbread houses and decorating them in snow 'icing' - although, let’s be honest, that’s fun too.

Being a gingerbread connoisseur, I love to experiment with what I can make, taking my biscuit building to the next level. I’ve made 3D installations for shop windows and recreated ancient tombs as well as producing replicas of existing buildings in delicious biscuit form.

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But I always feel like there’s more that can be done with gingerbread. Despite its lack of bendiness it’s actually a really versatile building material and can hold its own in almost any shape you can imagine. So with the summer just around the corner, I wanted to inspire you to get baking no matter the weather outside. So, with that said, here are some ideas to help you celebrate and enjoy biscuity goodness all year-round.

Things to do in the summer with gingerbread (that isn’t baking a gingerbread house!)

Creative wedding favour ideas

Weddings can sometimes be a little bit awkward for guests. If you get sat next to someone you don’t know it can be hard to strike up a conversation or feel comfortable at your table. Group wedding favours can kill two birds with one stone! And if you can make that wedding favour edible you’ll have some very happy guests. A 3D gingerbread table centrepiece will encourage everyone to talk and band together, break into the biscuits and provide a really fun after dinner treat. Try it and see how it brings out the inner child in your guests! It can also save you a lot of money on buying individual wedding favours.  If you’re feeling really brave why not try baking your own?

Edible piñatas

Piñatas are great for outdoor summer parties, for adults and kids alike. They are social, fun, silly and great to get people up and active at a party. But a fully edible piñata? You’d be surprised how much more excited people are about getting involved! I created a gingerbread fiesta llama piñata recently, which featured hand-piped royal icing ruffles and was filled to the brim with rainbow sweets. 

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The great thing about edible piñatas is there’s no mess left behind because every element is edible, so you don’t have to worry about clearing up and disposing of lots of rubbish at the end of the day.

Edible bunting for your summer BBQ

It might sound like a crazy idea, but stick with me. Gingerbread is perfect for an outdoor summer party. Try baking a tray of gingerbread men, or birds, or triangles for traditional bunting. In fact, it could be anything to match the theme of your party. Just punch a hole in them just before you place them in the oven, decorate them sparingly with royal icing and you’ll have yourself the start of a perfect row of bunting! Thread some ribbon through each piece - make sure it’s thick ribbon to support the weight of the bunting - and hang it up, perhaps in the trees if you’re in a park or around the windows of a gazebo. The best thing is, you can finish your BBQ and turn to the decorations for your dessert.

Alternative wedding cake

Wedding season is starting - although, of course, people have weddings all year round, we just seem to love the sunshine - and the past few years have seen a rise in people opting for an alternative wedding. They might not want a white dress, or a first dance, or a traditional wedding cake. I’ve had many requests over the years to make alternative wedding cakes. One of my favourites was this recreation of a ruined tomb I made for a couple who were both archaeologists.

Archaeological gingerbread centrepiece filled with sweets.jpg

They both preferred biscuits to cake but still wanted something spectacular to be the centrepiece for their wedding. Gingerbread is a great alternative to a wedding cake because you can make a display of individual pieces or an impressive structure in the shape of almost anything you love. It can be decorated just as much as you can decorate a cake, so it’s guaranteed to look spectacular, and because it's hollow you can include a whole host of delicious surprises inside it too!

Picnic centrepiece

There’s something about the summer heat that makes us Brits turn alfresco and many of us love to have big celebrations outdoors, whether it’s a birthday, wedding, engagement party or family reunion. A centrepiece at an outdoor party can make it feel special but cakes are not the best items to leave out in the sun for hours. Biscuits, on the other hand, are great. They won’t go soggy or begin to melt, you don’t need to worry about keeping them on ice or in the shade. If you want to bake something really special, try making a vanilla biscuit box filled with your favourite treats and decorated with edible flowers: delicious summery perfection!

So here are five ideas for summer biscuits, but there’s so much more you could do! Gingerbread is a great building tool, and it’s possible to build anything you can imagine. What about you? What’s the strangest thing you’ve used gingerbread for and will you be trying anything new with biscuits this summer?

The Story of Maid of Gingerbread

Emily here, Maid of Maid of Gingerbread, alternative wedding cake baker and unique party ideas
maker extraordinaire. With the summer creeping in (almost) and our thoughts turning to the year
ahead, I thought it was about time I told you about how I got into 3D gingerbread construction and why I love it so much (aside from the fact that it’s super fun and delicious!). Here’s a little interview with me about why I love making bespoke event centrepieces.

Maid of Gingerbread came to life because of a rebellion against cakes and the circus…

I first came up with the idea of Maid of Gingerbread in 2010. My friend hosts a big fancy dress party every year and in 2010 the theme was the circus. I wanted to bake a cake to bring to the party but I couldn’t think of a cool enough cake design. I knew it had to be spectacular. I went back home to Colchester in Essex to visit my parents and I came across our old gingerbread house templates. We used to really enjoy baking gingerbread homes and would bake them every year. It was this that gave me the idea to build a gingerbread circus big top - because, believe it or not, gingerbread doesn’t always have to be in the shape of a house or person. I adapted the old gingerbread templates and the circus top came to life.

The great thing about building with gingerbread is that it’s hollow so I was able to create an entire circus to put inside the circus top construction. I added Cadbury’s animal biscuit lions and made them jump through party rings. The making process really brought out my inner child. My friends loved it and were really impressed and I enjoyed making it. At the time, I didn’t really think about it as creating an event centrepiece, but I guess that’s what it was.

When I had to leave my job that summer due to health reasons - I had RSI in my wrists and had to avoid computer work - I decided it was time to give full-time baking a go. And so, Maid of Gingerbread was born.

The hurdles I’ve had to jump

The biggest challenge I’ve had to face so far in my baking career is building a 3D gingerbread model of Castle Howard in Yorkshire. In fact, it’s been my biggest project to date.

The project involved making the main house and seven of its surrounding buildings and monuments and creating a winter wonderland installation in intricate detail. Not only did I have to copy the architectural plans of each building and translate them into tasty gingerbread, hand-piped royal icing, edible metallic paint and pastillage, I also had to make sure the tall obelisk structures stayed upright - no easy feat!

gingerbread castle howard with working gingerbread train

Creating an edible, moving train was my next challenge, which nearly broke me, but it worked in the end and looked great. I created a gingerbread train that worked and weaved its way through the frosty landscape. To top it all off, after I’d made a tasty, edible structure that held together, I still had to transport it in a van all the way from London to Yorkshire. With thanks to good driving and a spot of good luck, it made it in one piece.

I love recreating real-life objects and translating them into gingerbread. My other favourite projects include creating a Temple of Gingerbread and a personal favourite of mine, creating an edible DeLorean (see pictures). To me, these are projects that prove gingerbread is for life, not just for Christmas.

gingerbread temple
gingerbread back to the future delorean

Why I love gingerbread

I've always loved building things and I love food. Gingerbread is the perfect material to combine these two passions. The first time I tried gingerbread was at my 4th birthday party thanks to a house my mum made for me and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since.

About my gingerbread making technique

Traditional gingerbread houses tend to use a puffy gingerbread mixture which includes bicarbonate of soda and a thick, gloopy icing to snow over the joints. Although this technique works to keep the structure together, in my opinion, the end results are sometimes messy and scrappy looking. I wanted to create a mixture that would not only tastes delicious but look professional and give a cleaner, sharper edge to allow me to build modern designs.

I decided to adapt a sugar cookie recipe for the gingerbread and file down the joints using a Microplane zester (one many utensils used as 'tools' in my toolbox). This means the edges fit together perfectly and hide most of the icing on the inside of the structure, creating the clean, smooth looking structure you can see in my finished products.

What’s next for Maid of Gingerbread?

I have dreams to spread the gingerbread love even further by writing a book about gingerbread construction. In fact, I would love to do a gingerbread tour of Europe to explore all the different traditions of spiced bread. It took me a while to refine my unique and top secret spice recipe!

Call me ambitious, but I want to make even bigger, bolder and brighter constructions! I want to spread the love of gingerbread making by encouraging more people to experiment with 3D biscuit building using my BISC KITS and joining me on one of my construction workshops to learn how to do it yourself.