Once the weather starts getting a bit colder, one of the first things I want to do is start baking. There’s just something about being in a cozy kitchen with music playing and the smell of spices and sugar wafting from the oven. To my delight, this year I have a brand new apron pattern to sew and a brand new holiday baking project that is sure to become our family’s next favorite tradition.
Boo and Lu just released a new apron pattern, and the best part? It is completely free! The new Gingerbread Apron pattern comes in three sizes- toddler, child, and tween. It has two neckline options- scoop neck and sweetheart neck. The apron has a beautiful gathered skirt, and ties that cross at the back, and tie at the waist. Its details take it beyond a basic apron, but it is still a simple project that sewists of all levels can accomplish. And what is the perfect thing to bake wearing the Gingerbread apron? Gingerbread houses of course!
The Baking Project
Every year, my children want to decorate gingerbread houses. And every year, I find myself frustrated with houses that fall apart, taste bad, and are hard for kids to work with. My youngest daughter can’t eat soy or gluten, and as other families with food allergies/intolerances know, that makes buying store-bought baking/gingerbread kits nearly impossible.
Enter… The Tomte Cake.
The Tomte Cake (thetomtecake.com) was created by a mom with gingerbread frustrations like me, who thought there must be a better way! Miranda Tompkins wrote and illustrated a gorgeous children’s book, titled The Tomte Cake, about a sweet tiny gnome named Tomte (TOME-tuh) who finds himself accidentally baked inside a gingerbread house cake, and makes a cozy little home of it. The book comes with a baking mold made of the highest quality die-cast aluminum, which makes two gingerbread house cakes, perfect for decorating. As a bonus, there is also a tiny Tomte gnome, for you to bake into one of the cakes… legend has it whoever finds Tomte in their cake has good luck for the season!
And guess what? As a special surprise for our readers, the end of this post includes a coupon code for a discount on your own Tomte Cake set!
First, I sewed a Gingerbread apron for each of my daughters. I made a scoop neck for one and a sweetheart neck for the other. When I saw this darling Robert Kaufman gingerbread house cotton woven I knew it would be perfect for this project! I paired the aprons with white t-shirts I made using the Timber Wolf pattern.
Before we started baking, I read The Tomte Cake to my girls. They loved it! The book was engaging and sweet and funny, they’ve asked me to read it repeatedly since.
Then, it was time to bake! The girls put on their new aprons and were ready to go!
The Tomte Cake set comes with a recipe card for gingerbread cake, made specifically for perfect baking in the house molds. Let me tell you- this cake is delicious. No more stale, flavorless, “gingerbread” house panels. This ginger cake is full of flavor, with the perfect blend of spice and sweet. Paired with their recommended vanilla nutmeg buttercream this is one of the tastiest winter cakes I have ever eaten. And we even baked it using all gluten-free and soy-free ingredients! Baking these houses at home from scratch means you can tailor your cakes to fit your household’s dietary needs. (Psssst…. The leftovers make a perfect breakfast with your coffee the next day 😉 )
Once our batter was ready, we poured it in the baking molds. Then, while my kiddos closed their eyes, I dropped Tomte into one of the cakes. It would be a surprise for them to see who would end up with it! The batter recipe is enough for three cakes, so after you bake the first two, you can bake a third while the first ones cool. This was fun because it meant I got to decorate one too!
When the cakes were done, we lightly frosted the cakes, and decorated! The frosting is thick enough to hold onto all the candies we used, but still tastes amazing, not like glue. And when my girls were finished and took off their Gingerbread aprons, their white t-shirts were actually still white! Success! We cut into the cakes a little later to find Tomte, and eat the amazing cake.
Bonus– Interview with The Tomte Cake author/creator Miranda Tompkins!
B&L- How did you come up with the idea for The Tomte Cake?
MT- I came up with the idea for this at a friend’s house one Christmas night when we were lamenting about how much fun the gingerbread house decorating tradition could be if the kits were actually edible and weren’t prone to collapsing and frustrating the kids during the decorating process. We both agreed there was a lot of room for improvement, and I set out to fix all of the things we didn’t like about gingerbread houses, while keeping with the tradition itself but adding in a new element of fun for the kids, a story to go along with it and the element of surprise and anticipation, waiting to see which gingerbread house has Tomte hidden in it!
B&L- What materials are used for the baking set and how did you source them?
MT- Made in the USA was a goal of mine from the very beginning and I’m so happy to say that I was able to find a manufacturer right here in Oregon just minutes from my house for producing the baking molds and Tomte. Both pieces are made out of die cast aluminum which produces an exceedingly high-quality product that will last for generations. The packaging is 100% recyclable and is also made in America, with a sustainability-focused company.
B&L- You wrote, illustrated, and self-published this book. Can you tell us more about that experience?
MT- I originally set out to find an illustrator for the book. I paid and got samples from some local artists but couldn’t find the right look I wanted so I started playing around with some illustrations myself, mostly just to try to hone in on what I wanted so I could better communicate that to whatever illustrator I might work with. I ended up having so much fun with it I just wanted to keep going, so I spent the next year illustrating it myself, and self-publishing the book about a year and half after it was written.
Where to Buy
You can find the free apron pattern here, no code needed! Whether you are an experienced sewist, or newer to sewing, you can absolutely make this darling apron. You can find The Tomte Cake book and baking set here and use code BooandLu to save 10%! The code will get you 10% off your entire order, so it’s the perfect time to buy one for yourself and one (or more!) to gift. Handmade Gingerbread aprons paired with The Tomte Cake set make an absolutely perfect gift this holiday season!
As a special bonus, if you are in the Boo and Lu Sewing Patterns Facebook Group, you can enter to win a FREE Tomte Cake set by following both @booandlupatterns and @thetomtecake on Instagram. Head to our group to find out how!