In the waning days of 2017, a snowman stood at attention while an octopus wrapped in a scarf gazed out to sea and a mermaid lounged on a rock under a blue-frosted lighthouse. This first (ever) attempt at a gingerbread house won Burle Konopa and Jessica Skett of the Sweet Stand second place in Grouse Mountain’s Gingerbread Village Challenge.
This year, with help from a certain red-nosed reindeer, Konopa and Skett have their sights set on gold.
For the annual fundraiser for B.C. Children’s Hospital, the baking shop owners recreated a scene from the 1964 television special, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
“It’s just a classic,” said Konopa. “I think everybody can recognize Rudolph. Hopefully it appeals to a bigger crowd.”
Konopa and Skett started the Sweet Stand around three years ago as a creative outlet and to fill what they saw as a baking gap on island.
The self-taught bakers specialize in cakes and cookies but they also do the odd pie.
The gingerbread scene, which sees Yukon Cornelius (the miner-looking fellow) and reindeers Rudolph and Clarice standing outside of the Abominable Snowman’s cave, required some expertise beyond the culinary.
“It turns out you don’t just draw a geode,” said Konopa with a laugh, referring to the difficulty of building a dome-like structure with flat-baked gingerbread.
Luckily, Konopa’s husband is a 3D artist could design the pieces needed to form the dome on his computer. The computer design yielded printed templates, from which Konopa and Skett cut a cardboard mockup. Then came the baking.
The entire creation is edible but after the competition is over, Konopa doesn’t think she or her kids are going to eat it.
“We dried out the pieces for two weeks before putting it together,” laughed Konopa. “So they’re rock hard.”
Other entries in this year’s Gingerbread Village Challenge include a Nightmare Before Christmas scene and a Grinch stealing a bag full of toys.
The winner of the competition is decided by online vote and a panel of celebrity judges. Konopa and Skett’s creation is currently in third place. To vote or donate to B.C. Childrens’ Hospital, visit grousemountain.com/gingerbread-village-2018.