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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.