Meet an 11-Year-Old Gingerbread House-Making Prodigy

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These gingerbread houses look like they could be from a holiday episode of Food Network Challenge, but they're not the creations of a pro baker or sugar artist — they're the handiwork of 11-year-old Lydia Gentry, who has snagged first place in her age group at the National Gingerbread Competition in Asheville, N.C., for three years running. Lydia's mother, Michelle, credits her daughter's gingerbread skills to the family's ongoing remodeling projects: Lydia helped put an addition onto their real house. "After that, constructing a gingerbread house isn't hard," Michelle says. The only catch is that entries have to be 100 percent edible, so Lydia has to get creative with her supplies. This year, she won her fourth title with a holiday-themed cuckoo clock. Check out the winners at nationalgingerbreadhousecompetition.com, or see them in person at The Grove Park Inn in Asheville ( 290 Macon Ave.; groveparkinn.com) through January 1.

These Tahitian huts, which Lydia made for the 2010 competition, were inspired by an episode of The Bachelorette. "They stayed in a place that looked like this when they went to Bora Bora, and I thought it was really cool," she says.

Lydia boiled corn syrup and sugar to make the windows for this English cottage.

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Coconut with green food coloring looked just like grass!
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