Published 12:00 am Friday, November 15, 2013

LANDIS — The smell of hot gingerbread baking in the ovens permeated the air of Sharon Edwards’ Food One Class at South Rowan High. Some of the rich aroma of cinnamon may have even escaped into the school hallway.
But that was earlier.
On Thursday, the students were hard at work finishing the final product of 12 gingerbread houses, each representing a different month of the year, for the National Gingerbread House Competition at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville this weekend. Finishing touches and repair work was under way. Replacing the missing bunny rabbit’s candy arm that dropped off the month of April house and adding candy panels to the roof of the September house were the priorities. The December house was last to be completed. Early in its construction, the gingerbread fell apart and required the team to start over.
The theme “Keep the Spirit All Year Long” was carried out in 12 gingerbread houses, all alike, but all different. All used the same pattern of gingerbread made from scratch in the kitchen. The students had to decorate and design them for each month as creatively as they could using edible materials with icing holding it all together.
Students could use smartphones and computers to get ideas on how Uncle Sam might look or how cupid could be represented or another feature they might include in their house. Each house has to be 75 percent gingerbread with edible candies, icings, gum paste, fondant, chocolate, modeling chocolate, royal icing, Isomalt, cast sugar, gelatin and pressed sugar used as decorations.
All 12 of the houses will be mounted together as one entry in the Teen Category for the competition.
Angel Ruiz explained that in making the September gingerbread house, their idea was to use school supplies, book worms, a pen and pencil, apples and a math problem since school starts in this month.
He had never made a gingerbread house before, “but it was fun,” he said.
Megan Branham and Savannah Goodman used spaghetti noodles to hold the ears on the bunny rabbit of the April house. The noodles gave way, so they had to repair the rabbit. “We are having problems with everything breaking,” Savannah laughed.
Megan said they kept getting new ideas for things to add to the house. “The icing didn’t turn out the correct color and we didn’t plan on using Big Red chewing gum for the roof, but Mrs. Edwards said we had to,” she said. “We put in a lot of really hard work.”
The December house had troubles from day one. Holly Barnes said they were the last to finish because they had to start over when her partner, Dallas Bruch, was putting it on the shelf, and it just fell apart.
“We had to start over. We used Royal icing to hold it together and it didn’t hold,” she said.
Royal icing is made of egg whites, powdered sugar and cream of tartar.
Their teacher first made gingerbread houses at her 5-year- old daughter Candice’s birthday party. Candice is now 25.
Through the years, Edwards’ students have taken the houses to nursing homes as gifts. She worked at Corriher-Lipe Middle school with Sharon Wooten for nine years. They had an entry in the competition in 2006 that took a first place. She has the photos on her classroom wall.
So how does making gingerbread houses in the food class challenge the students? They have to learn how to be precise in their measurements to make the recipes work. They learn to work together in teams of four and how to think on their own and figure out how to make things work in their designs. Their creativity has been pushed in their designs.
Edwards said besides having to use math in their measurements, students learned patience with the project.