Working out of her tiny Cambridge apartment with a pint-size oven, Kristen Coniaris creates gingerbread houses more akin to installation art. Her latest creation of Santa’s workshop required more than 100 pounds of royal icing and took 3½ weeks to build. It won “best in show” at the 25th Anniversary of Housing Families Inc. Gala in Boston earlier this year and was later auctioned and purchased by the Charlestown Working Theatre. It is currently on display at The Cooperative Bank in Charlestown.
To make her houses, Coniaris first designs the ediface using paper and cardboard, repositioning the pieces until they’re a perfect fit. She then codes each piece and deconstructs the model, all while taking careful notes for reassembly. After mixing up batch after batch of gingerbread — from her mother’s recipe, without the leavening — Coniaris uses the coded templates to cut replicas from the dough. Once the pieces are baked, she matches the gingerbread panels together and decorates them one at a time.