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Hear from the Bakery Chefs Who Bring Our Gingerbread House to Life

Chef Making Art with Icing
Brittany Fisher (left) and Princess McCallister (right) make all the gingerbread magic happen
Our bakery chefs have been at it again, and yes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year again: the gingerbread house is back at French Lick Springs Hotel.

Large Gingerbread house windowYou’ll find it once again at its customary location on the upper level of the Event Center. Just follow your nose right to it, because yes, everything you see on the exterior of this colossal confectionary masterpiece – from the shingles to the stained glass windows to all the decorations and adornments – is 100% edible. All 650-ish pounds of it.

A round of applause for Princess McCallister and Brittany Fisher, our two creative hotel bakery chefs behind the bulk of this project. They shared a few little behind-the-scenes crumbs with us – including how they’re somehow nose-blind to the pungent gingerbread scent by now, and the story behind the snowman who’s made from 100 pounds of Rice Krispies treats…..

making of large gingerbread house


The gingerbread house is actually a “side” project that started back in August, and gets worked on bit by bit during their free time.

Brittany: “Free time” is kind of a loose term. Occasionally we’d have just a little bit of time to work on gingerbread at the end of our shift. And then all the sudden, it was, like, time.

Princess: Sleep has been a luxury.

Brittany: Yes. A lot of this has been cramming and just doing the best we can, because we’ve been so busy – we’ve had the big groups of 600 in.

cutting gingerbread into small slices 

You say that you don’t notice the gingerbread smell when you’re around the house. How is that possible?!

Princess: Right now I can’t smell it.

Brittany: Right. I don’t either.

Princess: If you blindfolded me, I probably still wouldn’t be able to smell it. I feel like because we’ve been inhaling it for 6 months out of the year, we’re just immune to the smell of ginger at this point.

Brittany: If a fresh batch comes out and I’m right next to it, I smell it. But that’s about it.

Princess: I made most of the batches of gingerbread this year and I put extra ginger in there, just because I couldn’t smell it. Altogether there’s about 7 pounds of powdered ginger, which is a lot of ginger.

details of small Gingerbread man


Personal feelings on gingerbread? Fan of it, or no?

Princess: I don’t like it. (laughs)

Brittany: I don’t really care for it. It’s OK, but….

Princess: I would not eat a gingerbread cookie. I mean, it’s fun. I think it’s really great for kids and I plan on building smaller versions with my nieces this holiday. But me personally, I can do without it.

What’s your go-to holiday treat then?

Princess: Rice Krispies treats. I like it because you can play with the recipe. I like to put extra marshmallows in it. Marshmallows are like cold weather food. Marshmallows and winter go together for me.

Brittany: I like persimmon pudding a lot. I think that’s my favorite holiday dessert.

Favorite feature of this year’s house, or part you’re most proud of?

Princess: I think my favorite are the gingerbread people standing out front. It was the very last that I did for the house, and it was fun to do.

removing large gingerbread man from baking sheet
And, I’m proud of the snowman. Everyone was like, “no way are you going to do that 100% out of Rice Krispies treats.” I’m like, “yes I am.” And I did it. I’m pretty proud he actually made it, and he is solid — about 100 pounds of Rice Krispies, marshmallows and butter.* It was not easy getting him to stay round and hold his shape. A lot of plastic wrap and patience.

(* Fun fact: this would make 700-800 individual Rice Krispies treats!)

"Ed" the snowman
 “Ed” the snowman has a deeper meaning, too. It’s a tribute to Charles “Ed” Ballard, who worked at French Lick Resort for more than 40 years. Ed, who worked in the French Lick Springs Hotel bakery into his 80s, passed away in January 2022.

Princess: I had not met Ed. I had started at the resort in November of last year, and it just so happened that he was interested in coming back to work. Brittany started telling me about him, and then literally we had heard that he had passed that same day. I just kept hearing all these great stories to the point where it felt like I knew him. He just seemed like this wonderful human being who was just lovely to be around. When we started talking about the gingerbread house, we said we should dedicate this to him in some small way, just because, you know, they say you die twice; the last time is when someone mentions your name for the last time. We don’t want his name to ever be forgotten, because he worked here for a lot, a lot of years. When we thought of doing the snowman, it was like, why not name him Ed, give him an apron and a hat and a little side of the house? Part of his legacy.


adding powdered sugar to the roof of large gingerbread house

A shake of powdered sugar is one of the last finishing touches


Do you ever go look at the gingerbread house once it’s on display, see what guests are saying about it?

Princess: No. (laughs) I know that people will try to touch it, and that makes me anxious, so I just decided to have it perfect it my memory and leave it there until it’s time to take it down.

making large gingerbread house door

Brittany: I hear some really nice comments. Every once in a while somebody will say they don’t believe it’s real, and I’ll get the courage to be like, “actually it’s real, I helped make this!” It feels good to actually see somebody impressed and really appreciative of the time that you put into it, and grateful that it’s something that they can come back here every year to see, and something that they just know it’ll be there at the holidays.



Large Gingerbread house final product

Another successful year in the books. This year’s gingerbread house looks (and smells) wonderful as usual!

Princess: It’s fun for us to push our pastry limits, what we can do. It’s nice when people can appreciate the work we put into it. I already have ideas for next year, all kinds of ideas and things that I would like to try. I’m excited already for next year.

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