Brownies take the cake at museum’s GingerBuild competition
After a brainstorming design session, Brownies from Troop 64 of Coral Gables First United Methodist Church opted to create a Key West-style winter wonderland for their entry in the Coral Gables Museum’s fourth annual GingerBuild competition.
The team of four 7- and 8-year-old bakers worked together for over three days to craft a tropical gingerbread beach house, complete with an ocean of icing and candied flip-flops, flamingos and palm trees. And they persevered as the walls began to collapse, adding extra layers and propping them up from within with leftovers and broken scraps.
“It was our first time … It started to get really hard and we thought it would be easy. But then it started to get easy,” said Brownie Samantha Simpson, joined by teammates Kamilla Betz Pabon, Sarah Borot and Kira Phillips. “It was fun when you got the powder all over your hands and were rolling the dough out … We really wanted to have a summer vacation in winter.”
Kamilla especially enjoyed accenting the villa with hearts made from candy canes. “It just added like love and fun,” she said. “It didn’t matter about winning. It was the effort.”
Their culinary efforts paid off indeed, garnering them a teamwork patch and the viewer’s choice award of $250, which troop leader Gabi Doria-Simpson said will be used to buy camping equipment.
Sarah, one of the Troop 64 team members, rushed over from her Nutcracker dress rehearsal when she learned about her team’s prize. “It was really long nights. I feel proud, very excited,” she said.
Dozens of GingerBuild participants and supporters gathered Saturday, Dec. 10, at the museum, 285 Aragon Ave., for the awards ceremony, to view the houses on display and enjoy red velvet cake.
Winners in the student category were Jessica Diaz and Jorge Rodriguez, members of the culinary academy of Hialeah High School who designed an old lady’s shoe; and Lola Bellaflores and her sons Alejandro, Vicente and Rodrigo Rovira-Bellaflores, who won in the family/children category for their elf tree house.
The competition, organized by museum director of operations Chris Rupp, drew 25 entries this year.
Hialeah High School had 11 student entries in the competition. “They had to come up with their own design, make their own stencil and make the bread and decorate it. It takes a long time,” said teacher Kathy Gonzalez. Additionally, “for some of my students it’s their first time in the Gables. I love for them to see how different it is.”
They also had to adapt to the collapsing-wall phenomenon, widely attributed to humidity. One student’s chimney broke, but the youth adorned it with a fat Santa overloaded with toys to make it look like he did the damage. “This year they surprised me with their creativity and some of them overcame some big obstacles,” Ms. Gonzalez said.
Mrs. Bellaflores said her family enjoyed helping establish this new and creative Gables holiday tradition and that her older sons wanted to make the festive treehouse for younger brother Rodrigo’s magical elf Sam. And for Alejando, 13, “I like design and creating stuff. I like cooking. I like the whole concept of it.”
Among professionals, Wendy Mahr and Danny Garcia of Little Gables Group had an intense 24-hour bakeoff to deliver their Country Club Prado ginger treasure fresh from the oven.
They enjoyed capturing the small details, from the stone arches of pretzel sticks to the sprinkles of gravel to the quinciñera girl with a tiara being photographed by a pony-tailed photographer. “We walk and bike around these streets and he always loved (the prado) and for years we’ve been thinking about doing it,” said Ms. Mahr.
They look forward to showcasing their sweet abode to their families over the holidays. “It really put us in the holiday spirit,” said Mr. Garcia. And, warning the competition, he vowed: “We’re going to start planning tomorrow for next year -- and then we’ll probably start the night before.”
Photos by Betty Alvarez / Events Photographer