Local women create sweet treat in national contest
Using about 20 pounds of powdered sugar, 10 pounds of granulated sugar and at least 20 bottles of molasses, Erica Sanders and Carole Beckum created their own edible masterpiece.
Sanders and Beckum, both of Aiken, participated in the 2013 National Gingerbread House Competition with a delectable small-scale replica of the Cathedral of All Souls. This was the first time Sanders and Beckum ever constructed a gingerbread structure, and they said it was a challenging but enjoyable endeavor, even though they didn’t place in the contest.
“We made a good team,” Sanders said, who has been friends with Beckum since they first met at Clemson University in 1987. “We worked well together, and we had fun.”
Several years ago, Sanders went to the competition and felt inspired. She pitched the idea of participating in the competition to Beckum, and they teamed up this year to tackle the challenge of building a gingerbread house from scratch.
The first step was picking out a design. They chose the Cathedral of All Souls that’s located in Asheville, N.C., which is the city where the competition took place. Beckum quipped that they also appreciated the fact that it’s a symmetrical building, which made the task slightly easier.
The second step was building a cardboard version of the structure to get an idea of what pieces were needed and how it would all fit together.
Sanders said that they learned a lot about architecture in the process, such as the need to add supports for the roof rather than just setting it on top of the structure.
The third step was getting together the ingredients and making the pieces. Sanders and Beckum spent many hours making little chimneys, columns, trees, wreathes and other pieces out of sugar and spice.
The last and final step was putting the final product together. The ladies traveled to North Carolina and rented a cabin with a big kitchen, where they pulled an all-nighter to build the gingerbread structure.
“The creativity was flowing,” Sanders said. “The more you do, the more you’re excited to see it done. We got a big surge of energy.”
They estimated a total of about 68 hours of work for each to make the pieces and put the cathedral together.
When Sanders and Beckum arrived with their gingerbread version of the cathedral, it was evident that it was recognizable as Asheville residents excitedly identified the finished product.
The two women were proud of their piece but were in awe of all the other entries. Sanders said it was inspiring to see the other sweet works of art.
Sanders and Beckum added they may participate again. They encourage anyone to compete, saying it’s all in good fun, and one never knows the extent of his or her creativity in the art of gingerbread until he or she tries.
“Just do it,” Beckum said. “Just go for it, and have fun.”
Visit www.romanticasheville.com/gingerbread.htm to see the winners of this year’s competition.
The gingerbread creations will be on display through Jan. 2 at the Omni Grove Park Inn located at 290 Macon Ave., Asheville, N.C. 28804.
Amy Banton is the County reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the publication since May 2010. She is a graduate of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and a native of Rustburg, Va.