Gingerbread Houses of the Solvang Bakery… and a Suspenseful Tale

I love nothing more than a pretty house. Especially one I can eat. Bringing delicious definition to the term “eye candy” are the gingerbread houses of our beloved Santa Ynez Valley Solvang Bakery. But don’t take my word for it. Ask the movie stars and super-celebs who beat the door down to get their holiday orders in early. I’d tell you their names, but I’d have to kill you after.

A Solvang Bakery "manor house," with the family's name on the roof. Haven't you always wanted to see your name up in icing?

A longtime family business, the Solvang Bakery creates all manner of confections, including thousands of custom order houses that are shipped from their Disney-esque hometown of Solvang, California, to all over the world. You want a villa in the South of France? Oui, madame. A Manhattan high-rise? No problem. A barn? Howdy pardner.

Gingerbread barn from the Solvang Bakery
Gingerbread barn from the Solvang Bakery. Critters upon request. Special friends of ours have given us a Rancho La Zaca version that includes Stella the dog, Savannah the cat (late, alas), and Gunsmoke and Arnold the horses. Stella ate part of the roof and seems to have enjoyed it. After that we put it up on the piano.

There is your Hansel-and-Gretel-celebrate-Hanukkah model…

Hanukkah gingerbread house, menorah not included.

Doesn’t have to be a house of course. Here’s a Hanukkah gingerbread cookie jar you can get caught with your hand in.


For Gingerbread Christians, this Sunday is the first in Advent and, drum roll please, heralds the Bakery Blog serial Advent Adventures of J. Think 50 Shades of Gingerbread…. Kidding, but I’ve read the first few installments and I’m hooked. So will be your 5-year-old. It’s a great bedtime read and, oh the suspense! Like Homeland for little ones.

Okay that’s a stretch.

But there is danger and intrigue. We first meet Mr. Gingerbread, aka Joey, in hospital recuperating from grave injuries received at sea… a frightful storm… no memory…

Poor Joey. At least he did not lose the red scarf his mother gave him…

J.J. Gingerbread XXIV, aka Joey, recuperating in the hospital from terrible injuries received at sea, only he can't remember how it happened...

You won’t want to miss a single installment of Joey’s trials, tribulations, and ultimate triumph. Follow him on the Solvang Bakery website, under Our Blog. You cannot get this on Netflix, people.

Another story is the one about the Solvang Bakery itself and the beauty and brains behind it, including Melissa Halme Redell and her mother Susan Halme.

Melissa Halme Redell and Susan Halme, founding family of Solvang Bakery

I’ve also recently had the pleasure of meeting Melissa’s sister Maili Halme, who is a chef in her own right, and a mom, and a blogger. Her popular Maili Files is a go-to-source for discriminating foodies near and far. You’ll be hearing more about Maili and her recipes soon, but if all this talk of gingerbread has you hankering to make cookies, try Maili’s Gingerbread Cookies here. It’s the home version of the professional Bakery recipe. We do not mess around here.

After eating all those cookies you might need a vacation. The beach, maybe?

You could kick back at this gingerbread beach shack.

Browse and shop the Solvang Bakery here. Or phone them at (805) 688-4939. They’re open 7 days a week from 7 a.m. (yikes) Pacific time. Photos courtesy Solvang Bakery and the fabulous Julie Farrell, alter ego of J.J. Gingerbread XXIV.

Merry, Happy.

The bakery offers a large variety of houses, cookies, pastries, and other delights. A big part of the holiday business is custom orders. neither solicits nor accepts compensation for editorial coverage. 



  1. Think you have found Santa’s workshop (better than the Fountain of Youth). Was at Martha Stewarts to a seminar in Westport when she had just published her first book, ENTERTAINING. Occasion was a Christmas seminar at Turkey Hill and her catering office. All her sisters and her Mom were there. Their Polish family traditions were so interesting and delicious.
    A memory is, built from the oven up was a gingerbread Venetian Church. Magical for a sideboard decoration with a glass of Champagne in evening light. Martha melted lollipops for stain glass windows and battery lighted the interior.
    I am enjoying the artistry of the Solvang Bakery.
    Just wonderful in its detail. Oh, so MERRY!
    xo, Lynn

  2. Isn’t the Solvang Bakery the BEST? Maili surprised me with a gingerbread house when I was sick and it was the best Silver Lining imaginable. Maili and Melissa are the best! Thanks for spreading the good word about them. xx

  3. it is quite amazing to see Susan in her lair- she really does so much of the detail work on the houses- a real powershouse! Solvang Bakery ROCKS!

  4. This whole family radiates light – so grateful for all their creativity and for your sharing their story, Frances!

  5. I love their gingerbread wreaths. Melissa made on for us with each of our names as well as inspirational or important words written on individual oak leaves: gorgeous!

  6. Our family has been fortunate enough to receive these wonderful gingerbread creations for many years. My husband used to order them for clients as a special Christmas Gift when he was the Managing Partner of Christensen & Drake, CPA’s. They made wonderful gifts for friends and clients and we hsave saved our houses for several years. The Halmes are a family of unbounding energy and talent.

  7. Oh, my! A long, long time ago, I spent a truly magical, very happy weekend in Solvang. It is truly an enchanted (and enchanting) little slice of Heaven. Thank you for, yet again, making me smile and bringing back some very, very happy memories. As my Momma used to say, Felices Pascuas!

  8. It is astonishing to see how imagination translates into these gingerbread houses and gifts. Living in Solvang we have appreciated the special bakery arts for many years, including Solvang Bakery creations. This is a hard working and civic minded family. We love them. THank you for featuring them.

  9. I’m in love with these Gingerbread Houses!
    The creativity and the artistry is incomparable!
    Can’t wait to try Maili’s cookie recipe!
    These photos have already brought me a Happy Holiday!!!
    Thank you!

  10. This little bakery is a giant gem! Everything Melissa and Susan do is just outstanding artistically and seriously even better tasting! They just created a darling wedding cake for our son and his beautiful bride and every last crumb was devoured and most every one had two pieces! We are so blessed to have such a darling bakery run by an adorable mother-daughter and their wonderful staff! And I have baked Maili’s gingerbread cookies all I can say is yummmm!!! Thank you for spreading the word about a lovely family and their delicious year round delights!!!!

  11. Have not had a Gingerbread House in years. Now that I have grandchildren puts me in the mood to start that tradition again !!
    Thanks Frances.

  12. Wyatt and I LOVE Solvang Bakery! Everything they do is amazing. They did our wedding cake and without being too partial, it was the best I’ve ever had.

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