Build the (gingerbread) house of your dreams

The workshop teaches techniques and tricks before the popular contest

By Susan Nolan

Anita Guit of Owings had never built a gingerbread house, but in 2009 her sister told her about the gingerbread house exhibit at Darnall’s Chance House Museum in Upper Marlboro. Guit and her 11-year-old daughter, Hailey, decided to go. One visit and they were hooked.

“We left thinking, ‘we can do this,'” Guit says. The following year, she and Hailey made, decorated, and entered gingerbread houses in the annual contest. Since then, Guit has become a perennial contender, often ranking among the winning entries. Hailey continued to enter the pageant as her schedule permitted. “The timing didn’t always work out when she was in college,” Guit explains.

Now, 12 years after entering his first gingerbread contest, Guit will host a workshop for gingerbread novices on Octo. 15.

“Anita’s designs are fresh and interesting,” says Susan Reidy, director of Darnall’s Chance House Museum and coordinator of the annual competition and upcoming workshop. “She’s creative and always finds something fun.”

Last year, the entrance to Guit was an ugly sweater factory with marshmallow fleece sheep lining up to be shorn and brightly colored sweaters for sale. She placed third.

According to Guit, the best designs are more than just a building, they tell a story. She looks for ideas on Pinterest and YouTube, but also thinks her personal story can be inspirational. In 2017, she made a gingerbread model of her mother’s childhood home in Mt. Savage, Allegany County. “My mom loved it,” she says. “And I used it on my Christmas card and sent one to the current owners who happen to be friends. They loved it too.

October may seem early to think about gingerbread, but according to Reidy, those who enter the contest are already planning ahead. “The contestants spent a lot of time creating their gingerbread houses,” she says. “And we want to encourage people who have never done this to try. Get started.”

The Darnall’s Chance Gingerbread House contest entry deadline is November 4, and complete entries will be delivered to the museum on November 30. All entries will be on display from November 26 to December 11.

During the 90-minute workshop, Guit will share recipes and basic techniques to help attendees avoid common beginner mistakes, like not allowing enough time for gingerbread to harden. “All candy can be heavy, and fondant is even heavier,” she says, “You really need the gingerbread to be baked properly, cooled, and dried before you try to put it together. .”

Guit also encourages gingerbread builders to find a place where their work won’t be disturbed by people or pets during construction. “You’ll be working on it for days,” she explains, “so it’s unrealistic to leave it on your kitchen counter.”

Even with all the hard work involved in creating a masterpiece, Guit emphasizes fun. “I don’t do it to win, and I don’t win every year,” she says, “I do it because I like it.”

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