Gingerbread Chalet – Flashback

It’s that time of year when gingerbread tastes its best and spending time on a baked creation doesn’t feel indulgent, and there are plenty of visitors to eat it afterwards. Here is the story of my gingerbread work, as seen in Ski A to Z.

My final creation of 2020 was a two-storey chalet with balcony constructed in gingerbread. This was continuing the ski theme which was key for my work in 2020, and with the publishing of my Ski A to Z has continued to be.

The chalet had an overhanging roof, shutters, chimney, a log pile, and sugar windows in warm hues – including a window in the roof. I cut skis, bindings and poles from patterned papers and placed these at the front of the chalet.

I experimented with green screen technology to put the baked chalet into a mountain setting.

The chalet was lit from within its fairy lights added before the roof went on, with access to the switch through a space in the side wall.

I didn’t have chance to paint the chalet as still life before it was eaten, so I painted it from a photograph, with some additional details to the balcony. I added a depth of snow and removed some of the snow icing for the painted version.

The Art Applied

The gingerbread chalet features in Ski A to Z as a painting, and also in photo form.

The chalet features in Ski A to Z as a watercolour painting for ‘A is for Alpine’, the first entry in the book. Image Copyright Kim

A photograph of the chalet is in the map design for ‘M is for Map’, representing a cosy mountain restaurant.

I then placed and warped the map design to demonstrate folds in the piste map, for the spread in Ski A to Z. Pictured here on our mid-century teak table, which is a kind of gingerbread colour itself.

The chalet is also in my ‘Ski Goggle Reflections’ fabric and wallpaper design, in the yellow edge to edge lens. This design is available for print on demand fabrics and wallpapers in my Spoonflower shop. Here is the design mocked up as wallpaper for a ski house or chalet setting along with my favourite G-Plan Astro table. More about the designs here.

The Design and Construction Process

Here’s how I created the gingerbread chalet…

1. I drew the chalet design and then determined the pieces required before cutting card templates for each piece. 

2. There were lots of parts to the design as it had a balcony, shutters, chimney and to look like a chalet it needed a considerable overhang on the roof. I find ceramics hand building techniques useful when constructing in gingerbread.

3. Once all the panels and components were baked, and beautifully golden brown, with boiled sweet windows, the construction could begin, with edible glue and royal icing, and some cocktail sticks and kebab skewers to hold in place.

For the following artwork I added a painted mountainscape background with falling snow in Procreate app. I used a might scene to accentuate the interior lighting and inviting atmosphere, a warm shelter after a chilly, but fun, day on the mountain.

Gingerbread construction is a lovely thing to do, Although my family can’t wait to smash my creations and eat the gingerbread. It’s delicious but always a little painful for the work to be undone so quickly, although that’s why it’s nice that this gingerbread chalet is now all around the world in my Ski A to Z book.

I completed the house on New Year’s Eve, and so the year closed. A challenging but creative 2020 ended.

I used the Mary Berry recipe for the dough, I’ve used this before to make two gingerbread houses, and a gingerbread car, each time using my own templates.

Earlier Gingerbread Creations

Gingerbread House 1 – 2013

My first gingerbread house was a three storey townhouse using Mary Berry’s recipe when she did a Christmas cooking programme with Paul Hollywood, during her Great British Bake Off years. Quite ambitious as a first attempt and my own templates, alway taking the easy options, not!

Gingerbread House 2 – 2018

My largest gingerbread creation was this huge house. It stood 13 inches tall. I Intended into have turrets on the corners but I struggled with the bend in the bake. Features I particularly liked were the scalloped roof and large windows.

See the real estate type ‘virtual viewing tour’ video, which was fun to make.

I painted a picture of the house in a simplified way in acrylic paints. painting from something you’ve crated can be a good day to get a fresh looking subject.

The following year I used this for my Christmas card and gift tag design (below). Each of the houses in the picture are the same hous but photographed from different angles. Christmas often feels to me like it comes round again really quickly.

Santa’s Car 2019

My Christmas card design for 2019 (above) then became the theme of my gingerbread bake that Christmas.

gingerbread Gift Box (2021) and Top Tips

This was a cake in a gingerbread box that I made for my husband’s birthday. Ceramic hand building techniques were applied to create this. Making the box was easier for me than decorating the cake.

Gingerbread Tips

Here are my top gingerbread tips.

  1. Draw out your design and think about what parts make up the structure or design.
  2. Bake more than you think you need, it will all get eaten.
  3. Note that gingerbread expands during cooking, so trim with your templates part way through the bake.
  4. As you make your templates for each piece of the bake decide whether your panels will overlap or meet at the corners, as this will affect the dimensions.
  5. If a panel will be load bearing, such as for a wall to hold a roof, adjust the thickness of the gingerbread. Adjust your bake time accordingly.
  6. Crushed boiled sweets work great for windows – Mary Berry is right! But if the windows are too large they will weaken your structure and may not fill the space. The boiled sweets are added mid way through the oven baking time.
  7. It is important to text/ taste the bake 😉
  8. Enjoy, it’s meant to be fun.

This video shows the stages of the the gingerbread house creation.

Now to make this year’s gingerbread Christmas bake. Watch the space. Please subscribe to follow and see updates as they go live.

To Own The Art

To own a piece of my work and support my art practice please visit my shop. Your purchases are greatly appreciated.

For more information and links to buy Ski A to Z head here, The book has info, tips and advice for skiers, with over 100 illustrations. Ski A to Z is published by Meyer & Meyer Sport (UK).

I hope you have sweet time this Christmas. If this inspires you I’d love to see what you make.

Best wishes

Kim x

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