Every year the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa in Asheville, North Carolina hosts the National Gingerbread Competition and it attracts hundreds of competitors in its four categories. A panel of professional judges carefully scrutinized each entry looking for overall appearance, creativity, difficulty, precision and consistency of theme and they arrived at six winners. Check them out:
"Russian Stacking Dolls" by Heather Lynn Lewis
Grand Prize Winner
This is an interpretation of the Russian wooden nesting dolls called matryoshka. It begins with the smallest doll being a little Russian girl and all the other dolls are the characters that she dreams of in her Christmas world including a snowman, an elf, Rudolph and Santa. Lewis constructed the molds out of different-sized hemisphere pans covered with foil to form the various size dolls. It took several weeks of baking to bake two pieces to perfectly match each other. They are attached with royal icing. Once placed together with icing, Lewis used a dremel and sanding paper to sand-down the edges. The smallest doll is made entirely of rice krispy treats, and the dolls are glazed with a food coloring, vodka, corn syrup mix. Lewis also used gumpaste and fondant to decorate the outside of the dollars. This was her first entry in The National Gingerbread House Competition.
"Believe" by Angel Adkins
First Place Adult
The name of this gingerbread creation is based on the story of a little girl who wrote a letter to Santa Claus. Adkins started baking on October 1st and used a pattern for a real wooden rocking horse, which she reduced in half in order for the horse to fit on the 24-inch base. The wood is gingerbread; nails became candy canes; and, royal icing holds the pieces together. The eyes and leather ears are made of gumpaste, and the floor is stained with a food coloring/vodka mix and sprayed on edible lacquer. The doll has a candy cane running through it to give it support, and also includes tiny shoes for the doll made of gumpaste. To tie it all together, Adkins made a letter out of gumpaste asking Santa for a doll and rocking horse. Adkins spent approximately 200 hours on her creation.
"Noah's Ark" by Barbara Evans and Mary Jo Dowling
Second Place Adult
The ark is made of gingerbread, and the animals are made of fondant and gumpaste, which were shaped by hand. No molds were used on the animals; instead, isomalt water was used to help form the animals. All details on the animals were hand painted. As a team, Dowling made the animals, and Evans baked the ark and made a custom mold to bake the round pieces for the ark. The night before The National Gingerbread House Competition, both Dowling and Evans met at The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa to put all the pieces together. They spent approximately 150 hours on this gingerbread piece.