You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

A Three-Time Gingerbread House Winner


Last week, our Food pages shared some tips on making a Gingerbread House from scratch from Sinclair Community College’s associate professor of culinary arts, chef Frank Leibold.

This week, we’re introducing you to someone who has earned a name for herself with the Gingerbread Houses she creates each year for the holiday.

Donna Brinson-Alexander, who lives in Brookville, has taken top prize at the Dayton Holiday Festival’s Gingerbread Homes for the Holidays Contest three times. For this year’s contest, she was judged “Professional Best in Show” and won a $500 cash prize.

“Each year I get excited about baking my entry,” says Brinson-Alexander, who runs a baking business from her home. “It’s just a fun time of the year for me. It takes a lot of time and hard work to achieve the look I want, but with practice and determination anyone can be successful.”

The contest is part of the monthlong festival presented by the Downtown Dayton Partnership, city of Dayton, Montgomery County and the Virginia W. Kettering Dayton Holiday Festival Fund. Competition winners and all other entries were displayed for public viewing at the Old Court House during the Grande Illumination and Dayton Children’s Parade Spectacular in Lights held downtown the day after Thanksgiving.

Brinson-Alexander was in her car on her way to work in November 2009, when she first heard about the annual baking competition.

“When I got to work I got online and located the entry form, completed the form and faxed it,” she remembers. ” I only had six days to complete my first Gingerbread House! I used a modified version of my own home and by working endless hours I completed it on time.”

She says it was exciting to see all of the other entries and talk to contestants.

“I received a call later that day informing me that I had won. I was so surprised and excited.”

We invited Brinson-Alexander to share tips and her own baking history as this week’s featured cook in our series.

How did you come up with the idea for this year’s winning Gingerbread House?

My love of log cabins inspired me to try to build one for this year’s contest. My first step was to construct the cabin using cardboard. I baked each log individually and placed them on the cardboard structure using royal icing to hold each log in place. Using a cardboard or other solid structure gives you a good foundation and that helps to prevent a collapses and loss of all your hard work.

My winning house also had a stone fireplace and a tiny full kitchen, reindeer and Santa Claus in the yard. There was also a tree inside the house with working lights.

I started making it at the end of September and finished the night before the competition.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to make their first gingerbread house?

When you build your first gingerbread house, start simple. Explore different food items to use. I’ve used different beans, candies and pasta. Fondant, gum paste and gel food coloring are necessities. These items give you endless possibilities. Let your imagination run wild. It’s so much fun.

Have you entered other gingerbread contests?

I’ve entered National Gingerbread Competition three times. It’s always held in Asheville, N.C., at the Grove Park Inn, a beautiful hotel.There are hundreds of competitors and a really educational experience because you talk to them and learn a lot. People this year were especially willing to share.

Their slogan says “where a house is not always a house” and that’s because people do a variety of things. There are many categories. I’ve done a nutcracker, for example, that was made out of gingerbread with handles that actually worked.

I transport the houses from Dayton to North Carolina, which can be a problem because they are always so delicate.

How did you learn to bake?

I retired four years ago and wanted something to do with my time. Shortly before I retired I went to Sinclair and took a class on cake prep and decorating. I have used what I learned many times.

What do you bake professionally?

I have baked cakes, cupcakes and cookies for birthdays, weddings, retirements, other social events and competitions.

Why do you enjoy baking?

It is a lot of fun to use your imagination to be creative. Most of my baking is for family and friends. It doesn’t take any special equipment to bake successfully. A regular oven, a good mixer and patience are all you need.

What early memories do you have of baking?

I’ve always liked to bake and try different recipes. I remember when I was young I baked biscuits at the fair and won a big ribbon. It was so exciting. That was an awesome memory. To this day I love those big beautiful ribbons.

What advice do you have for someone who is learning to bake?

My final advice is to bake, explore, be creative and most importantly: Have fun.

What recipe are you sharing with our readers?

It’s my favorite gingerbread recipe. This is a construction grade recipe and is wonderful for building gingerbread houses. Also, I have included the recipe for royal icing, which is a must to have a well-constructed house.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in

FOOD DEAL: Starbucks buy one, get one free offer starts today
FOOD DEAL: Starbucks buy one, get one free offer starts today

If you’re a serial Starbucks coffee date canceler, this week is the week to reschedule! Starting today at 2 p.m., Starbucks everywhere are offering a ‘buy any grande iced espresso and get one FREE’ until 5 p.m. Those GRANDE concoctions full of caffeine will give you and your coffee buddy plenty of time to catch up, without...
This world-changing Dayton landmark is featured in ‘100 Things to Do in America Before You Die’
This world-changing Dayton landmark is featured in ‘100 Things to Do in America Before You Die’

A Dayton area attraction has made a really big bucket list.  Huffman Prairie Field and Look Up are featured in the new book “100 Things to Do in America Before You Die” (Reedy Press, $18).  The book penned by travel writer Bill Clevlen is part of the series “100 Things to Do Before You Die.”  Huffman...
D.L. Stewart web exclusive: Politics shouldn’t happen to a dog
D.L. Stewart web exclusive: Politics shouldn’t happen to a dog

The American political picture just keeps getting uglier. A mock-up of a severed head of the president of the United States displayed by a comedian. A Donald Trump look-alike slain, Julius Caesar-style, in an updated Shakespeare play. An aging pop singer suggesting the White House should be blown up. And now, comparing political figures to the world&rsquo...
6 ways to reduce the risk of muscle cramps
6 ways to reduce the risk of muscle cramps

That sudden, sharp muscle spasm that has the power to wake you up in the middle of the night may be a sign that your body is lacking something. Muscle cramps can happen at any time of day and in nearly every area of the body, but perhaps the most commonly experienced muscle cramp is a charley horse. A charley horse is an involuntary contraction of...
Avoiding bites and stings this summer
Avoiding bites and stings this summer

Kids can hardly be contained indoors this time of year, when the days are long and the sun is warm. But other creatures also love the summer weather — so how can you keep your kids from being bitten and stung by insects? Dayton Children’s has a few tips for managing the most familiar summer stingers. Mosquitoes Mosquitoes are the most prevalent...
More Stories