A 150-pound gingerbread recreation of the Winterthur mansion will greet guests heading out on its Yuletide tour this year.
The gingerbread house, which sits on a 4-foot-by-8-foot base, was delivered Thursday by Bredenbeck’s Bakery of Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania. Its cakes have been featured on TLC and the Food Network.
Diana Anello, head sugar artist for Bredenbeck’s, said she wasn’t sure how many eggs or how much flour or sugar went into the creation.
“I can tell you we used 24 sheets of gingerbread which were 18 by 23,” she said.
The house, which stands about 3 feet tall, features dozens of windows, as well as a beautiful rendition of a lighted conservatory, complete with a dried flower tree, just like the real house.
Winterthur ordered the gingerbread mansion to pay homage to its exhibition “Jacqueline Kennedy and H.F. du Pont: From Winterthur to the White House.” It’s on show through Jan. 8, 2023.
Gingerbread houses have been a part of White House holiday decor at least since Jackie was decorating there, said Jennie Brown, Winterthur’s manager of audience development.
The Winterthur version will sit in the Montgomery Room off the Galleries reception. Guests heading out on the tour will have to pass it.
This year’s Yuletide tour decor also is linked to the Jackie-and-Henry exhibit. Starting Saturday, Nov. 19, the tour will feature trees inspired by White House trees over the years.
Jackie Kennedy created the first themed White House tree in 1961, using the Christmas ballet “The Nutcracker.”
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Also new this year will be a toy train display presented by the Standard Gauge Module Association. It will be open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday and Sundays, as well as Wednesday evenings in December from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Anello said getting to create the house was a nice break from decorating wedding cakes.
“It’s not like I don’t love wedding cakes,” she said, “but for me gingerbread is like my one-time a year passion that I get to do.”
The hardest part of creating the gingerbread house, she said, was trying to map out the full scope of the building, which in real life contains 175 rooms and five stories cascading down the hill.
“I recently came out here for a tour. It was incredible,” she said. “And when you’re standing here so tiny looking over this magnificent building, it’s like, ‘How do I get this all in?’ How I shrink this down and get a bite-sized version of this big cake. So for me it was I had to take each structural building piece by piece from all these different pictures, put all the puzzle pieces together and come up with the building.”
After that, the most difficult part was corralling the patience she needed to pipe out the icing that defines Winterthur’s dozens of windows.
The entire structure is edible, she said.
“Why would we make something you couldn’t enjoy,” Anello said.
It will still be edible in January, she said.
Anello joked that purely for quality control, she eats one of the bakery’s gingerbread men at least every other day.
“I have been known to eat gingerbread that I know was made months ago,” she said.
During the holiday season, Winterthur is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Self-guided tours are available from 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Reservations are not required. Admission is $27 adults; $25 seniors and students; $8 children ages 2-11. The ticket includes a tour, the garden, a narrated garden tram tour, the Jackie-and-Henry exhibit, the Campbell Collection of Soup Toureens and other exhibits in the galleries.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience.
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