Winterthur has moved its Enchanted Woods indoors this season – as a delightfully detailed miniature form in gingerbread – for Yuletide at Winterthur.
The 150-pound creation features gingerbread, chocolate, fondant and icing. That’s all edible.
The construction sits on a hardwood platform, edged with red ribbon, with styrofoam to create various levels. There are white lights in the Faerie Cottage and the Tulip Tree House and cloth ribbons on the maypole. That’s all inedible.
All told, “it’s magical and whimsical,” said creator Diana Anello, head sugar artist for Bredenbeck’s Bakery in Philadelphia. The gingerbread is on display Nov. 18-Jan. 7 in an alcove off the main entrance to the museum, and early on, the enticing scent will guide people to its location.
While it was being installed, a visitor asked if the ribbons on the maypole were licorice. Licorice is an unreliable ingredient, she replied. It changes color and dries so much that it could fall off.
Yuletide at Winterthur goes back to 1979, and the six-week event now draws 25,000.
The celebration features more than a dozen rooms decorated for the holidays, plus outdoor lights, a train display and a dollhouse.
The feature most loved on social media is the Christmas tree decorated with dried flowers, said Christine Heesters, director of technology and marketing. Its design varies annually.
Associated activities include brunch with Santa and performances of “A Christmas Carol.”
Yuletide at Winterthur added gingerbread last year, with a model of the mansion-turned-museum itself, also created by Bredenbeck’s.
The Enchanted Woods was a natural followup, because the three-acre play area is a crowd-pleaser, particularly among younger visitors.
“It’s a fun project,” said Irv Boyd, who co-owns Bredenbeck’s with his brother Jacob. “A great history, a great house.”
Planning for the gingerbread house began in July, when a team from Bredenbeck’s ventured down to Winterthur to sketch, photograph, take videos and watch children at play in Enchanted Woods.
Anello saw kids fishing there, so she made sure to include that concept in gingerbread.
“Every element of the Enchanted Woods is here, roughly in the same spot,” she said, adding that she used her artistic license to improve the ability to view all the details.
That includes the S-s-serpentine Path, the Troll Bridge, the Bird’s Nest, the Forbidden Fairy Ring (alas! it does not emit smoke) and the Acorn Tearoom. A tram is positioned in one corner.
For keen-eyed visitors there are 44 snowflakes, many trees and bushes, more than a dozen benches, five fairies with white wings, two bunnies, two turtles, one frog and one Green Man. “As a kid I always wanted to know what happened inside a gingerbread house,” she said. “The idea is to make you look.”
Winterthur’s gingerbread garden
Her rendition of the Faerie Cottage includes “stockings hung with care” and a table set with (so meta) a tiny gingerbread house.
Helping to create the magic atop 100 pounds of gingerbread are 10 pounds of fondant, five pounds of a specialized icing that dries hard and two pounds of chocolate.
“Pretty delicious,” she said during an interview while the creation was being delivered, set up, completed with all the planned features and dusted with confectioners’ sugar for the look of new-fallen snow.
Both Boyd and Anello said gingerbread is a key part of their personal holiday celebrations.
Boyd involves his children, ages 2 and 5, in repairing broken pieces of gingerbread from the bakery. “They pay attention some and then enjoy eating it,” he said.
Anello makes a house each year, themed to her niece Peyton’s latest interests.
She noted, in passing, that she has participated in three Food Network contests but has never won.
“This is my prize,” she said of her creation for Winterthur.
Yuletide at Winterthur runs Nov. 18 to Jan. 7, closed Christmas. Admission is $29, with discounts for seniors, students, children and members. Winterthur is at 5105 Kennett Pike, near Greenville.
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