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Bainbridge gingerbread house-maker hits sweet spot for Land of Oz

Dorothy and the Scarecrow make their way through the Haunted Forest in Kolyne Forro’s sweet interpretation of  “The Wizard of Oz.” - Brian Kelly / Bainbridge Island Review
Dorothy and the Scarecrow make their way through the Haunted Forest in Kolyne Forro’s sweet interpretation of “The Wizard of Oz.”
— image credit: Brian Kelly / Bainbridge Island Review

Every year, Kolyne Forro goes to a magical place. From a simple wintery house to an extravagant chicken coop.

This year, she journeyed down a yellow brick road all the way to an emerald city.

“I love ‘The Wizard of Oz,’” Forro said. “Absolutely love it.”

Adding that fervor together with her favorite holiday, Christmas, makes a pretty sweet recipe for Forro’s latest gingerbread house, currently on display at Doc’s in Winslow.

The display is extravagant to say the least, and is entirely edible. Aside from a few unicorn candy pops that are included, every bit of candy, gingerbread and icing — from the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and Dorothy to the Wicked Witch and Flying Monkeys in the Haunted Forest — was handmade by Forro.

An edible molding called “fondant” was also utilized to sculpt certain parts.

“Icing is key, it holds everything together,” she said. “It has to be perfect. It takes a half hour to make every batch.”

Forro is a six-year staff member at Doc’s and also substitute teaches.

What started 10 years ago as a hobby for the holidays has evolved into an annual gingerbread addiction and has grown more elaborate each year.

“The very first year was just a house, I was just practicing,” Forro said. “They have just gotten bigger since then. This is the best one I’ve ever done.”

Forro’s sweet passion doesn’t come without its drawbacks. She burned herself making the rock candy for the green skyline of the Emerald City. Her mom also suffered a burn from the sugar mix molded into the twister that carries Dorothy away.

And then, there was a chef at Doc’s who fell while hanging the twister, shattering his wrist and dislocating his shoulder in the process.

But it’s worth it. Forro, and Doc’s other staff, get a kick out of all the onlookers who come in to see the gingerbread house.

“It just gets everybody into the holiday season,” Forro said. “I love to do this kind of thing. I love gingerbread houses.”

“People flock to it immediately when they come in,” she added. “It’s awesome; it’s really cool.”

The Emerald City was a challenge for this year’s display. Forro had never made rock candy before, which is what she used to construct the deep green spires of the Emerald City. Now she has it down to a science.

“You take 8 ounces of water, five cups of sugar, bring it to a boil, then 11 ounces of Karo corn syrup, some cream of tatar and food coloring,” Forro spouts right off the top of her head.

The Emerald City alone ended up weighing 30 pounds.

She wasn’t sure how well the rock candy addition would go, so Forro got started early this year, on the last day of August. But after approximately 60 pounds of sugar experimentation, she got it just right. And under deadline.

“It was done in October,” she noted.

With the display attracting so many onlookers, Doc’s decided to put it to good use. Donations for the Seattle Children’s Hospital are being collected at the display. Doc’s will match the cash donations taken in.

Now that Forro is done with this year’s project, she has already begun thinking ahead to the next gingerbread season.

“I’m still up in the air about it, but I’m thinking of a Candy Land theme for next year,” she said. “I’m thinking of doing a big castle. Next year’s might be bigger.”

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