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One Sweet World

Robin and Susan Fleissner figure it'll be a sunny day in San Francisco when they submit their sculpture for judging at the GingerBread Jubilee.

That's because the sisters couldn't find a suitable "fog" for cloaking their edible version of the Golden Gate Bridge.

"You always have grandiose ideas," says Susan Fleissner.

Cotton candy is out, the sisters say, because it absorbs moisture and starts to disintegrate. The quandary, of course, is finding another edible material that resembles clouds. Such are the challenges of bakers competing in the eighth annual event that raises funds for Medford's Craterian Performances.

"We've been assembling all this stuff for weeks," says Robin Fleissner, casting her gaze over a dining table crammed with gum paste, bulk-bin candy, cookies, decorative sprinkles, baking molds and templates for gingerbread components.

The wide array is perhaps indicative of the Fleissners' far-flung concept. Titled "It's a Wonderful World," their piece prominently portrays a balloon in the vein of Jules Verne's "Around the World in Eighty Days" traversing the continents. It's one of 42 sculptures expected at their year's Jubilee, which inspired bakers with the theme "Gingerbread Around the World."

Using the 2007 book "100 Wonders of the World" for guidance, the Fleissners are attempting to replicate a host of iconic monuments and geographic features: Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro, Egypt's pyramids and Sphinx, Britain's Stonehenge, China's Great Wall, New York's Statue of Liberty and others.

"We're gonna do a little gingerbread Kremlin," says Robin Fleissner. "I've been working on my Taj Mahal over here."

A careful architectural study of the Oregon Caves chateau earned Fleissner top marks in two arenas at last year's Jubilee. A first-time event competitor, Fleissner shocked fellow bakers — and herself — by claiming first place in 2009's special category commemorating Oregon's 150th birthday, followed by first place in the adult division.

"I think my jaw hit the floor," says the 55-year-old Sams Valley resident.

Fleissner admits she felt intimidated by the detail evident in other entries, namely seasoned baker Melisa Corcoran's "Adventure to Paradise Falls," based on Disney-Pixar's animated film "Up." Corcoran settled for second place in the adult division despite her trademark fondant figurines.

Making her first foray into fondant last year, Fleissner will be rolling out many more yards of the sugary dough this year — enough to cover the "world" in her entry. The not-quite-to-scale map will be rendered atop thick layers of Krusteaz-brand gingerbread which, the sisters point out, looks like dirt.

The gingerbread's girth caused the sisters some disagreement. But since installing a stone patio together after 51-year-old Susan Fleissner moved from California to live with her older sister, the two are confident in their ability to construct with cookies.

"I jumped on the bandwagon," says Fleissner. "Since I moved up here, she's project queen."

Reach Food Editor Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4487 or e-mail slemon@mailtribune.com.

Robin Fleissner, left, and Susan Fleissner will submit one of 42 entrees expected in the GingerBread Jubilee. - Julia Moore