The gingerbread display in the front window of Edmonton’s Duchess Bake Shop is a little more elaborate than the gingerbread houses Garner Beggs used to make with his younger brother when they were kids.
"It’s about 50 kilos of gingerbread, give or take. And a lot of royal icing," said Beggs, co-owner of the bakeshop, about the gingerbread cathedral, a recreation of the famous Notre Dame de Paris.
"It’s a labour of love. Took a while … we figure around 300-some man-hours, we’re really not sure."
Beggs says he always loved making gingerbread houses, calling it "a quintessential part of the holidays."
So, when he opened his own bakery, both he and his brother saw it as a chance to expand the hobby. The "Notre Dame d’Epices" is a 1:100- scale model of the famous Paris church. Beggs says the entire creation is edible, with the windows made out of sugar and the roof formed out of chocolate.
Beggs started working on his creation in October. He designed a 3D model of the building on his computer and then sent it along to his brother,who is studying architecture, who made templates.
"Then, when the sheets of dough come out of the oven, then you cut them really quickly. It burns your fingertips."
Beggs says the reaction of children walking into the shop has made the work worth it. he hopes it encourages others to take up his hobby.
"I encourage everybody out there to make their own really great gingerbread houses."