Gingerbread house built by Manitoba student wins top prize in Toronto cake competition

A many-layered culinary education has earned a pastry arts student from Arborg, Man., a first-place finish at a prestigious cake competition in Toronto.

Lexi Orbanski of Arborg, Man., creates foot-high completely edible gingerbread mansion

Lexi Orbanski stands with her award-winning gingerbread house. (Submitted by Lexi Orbanski)

A many-layered culinary education has earned a pastry arts student from Arborg, Man., a first-place finish at a prestigious cake competition in Toronto.

An elaborate gingerbread house created by Lexi Orbanski, who is halfway through her culinary arts education at George Brown College in Toronto, won an annual contest put on by a Toronto hotel over the holidays.

It's no gingerbread bungalow.

Orbanski created a completely edible Victorian-style mansion standing about a foot high, with delicate brickwork, shingles made with royal icing, a winding brick path, candy cane pillars and a yard filled with Christmas trees.

Orbanski used royal icing to create the gingerbread house's elaborate shingles. (Submitted by Lexi Orbanski)

"I wanted something cozy that felt really warm and Christmasy," said Orbanski, who searched online to find examples of homes she wanted to replicate in gingerbread.

The house won her a one-night stay and breakfast at the hotel.

Orbanski said she fell in love with cooking when she was 14 and she got a job in a kitchen in Arborg, a town 115 kilometres north of Winnipeg that had a population of 1,222 in the 2016 census. She baked her first cake a couple years later.

The entire gingerbread house is completely edible. (Submitted by Lexi Orbanski)

After posting photos of her cakes online, Orbanski started getting orders, and that inspired her to start selling her cakes locally and apply to attend George Brown College.

Her first cake — chocolate with a chocolate espresso mousse and a chocolate ganache — remains her most popularly ordered cake flavour.

Orbanski creates her own frosting recipes and for the cakes, she uses variations of recipes that have been passed down in her family.

The gingerbread house's look is inspired by Victorian-style mansions. (Submitted by Lexi Orbanski)

She's improved those old recipes by making tweaks to things like the amount of baking powder and adding different ingredients.

"Other than that, they're lots of old recipes from cookbooks," she said.

Orbanski has another year left in school and plans to start her own business — and move her operation out of her mother's kitchen — once she graduates.

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