Thursday, April 26, 2012

NOARDA's "That Takes the Cake" Cake Show and Competition

After spending just about every evening and a good portion of my weekends for the last 2 1/2 weeks making sugar flowers, I was finally able to put my cake together for the North Aurora River District Alliance's 3rd Annual "That Takes the Cake" Cake Show and Competition.  This was my first cake show and I wasn't sure what to expect, but all the participating organizations and individuals came together to put on a really great show.  Decorating demonstrations and cake skirmishes, a cupcake tasting competition, and my favorite part, a live cake challenge featuring the talented designers, Mark Lie, Karen Scobbie, and Bob Brougham.

Seriously what they and their assistants were able to put together in 3 hours is mind boggling.  Mark Lie was the winner, and here you can see a portion of his cake which included a running water feature! I wish I had gotten a better picture, because the amount of detail work was impressive.

Of course the highlight for me was getting the chance to complete and display my first show cake. The theme for the show was "Milestones" and included a prompt about a family experiencing an exciting year including a 25th anniversary, the birth of a first baby, and 16 year old's birthday.  I decided to create a cake to celebrate the impending birth of the couple's first baby. The prompt stated that the couple were avid gardeners, and I immediately knew I want to do a garden themed cake since I could include a lot of sugar flower work, which is my favorite.

This cake actually differed significantly from my original design, and I ended up changing it quite a bit the Friday before the Sunday show when I knew the pieces I had weren't working together.  Happy accidents though because I was actually really pleased with how the final cake turned out.   I learned a couple of lessons making this cake. The first lesson being to trust your gut.  Seriously, if you think something doesn't look right or isn't working, you are probably correct, so try to make the changes needed to make it work.  The final design ended up including sugar roses in pink and yellow, rose leaves, hydrangea, hydrangea leaves, white filler flowers, pink primroses, ivy, and various buds.

These hydrangea nearly drove me to drink. The petals were super fragile and kept breaking off.  I thought I made enough of them, but second lesson learned, even if you think you have enough sugar flowers, make some more.  You don't want to be cutting, dusting, and steaming a new batch of flowers at the last minute. That said, I absolutely loved how they turned out.

To be honest, since it was my first show, I was simply hoping for a 1st or 2nd place in my category, so I was thrilled to receive a 1st in the Intermediate category, along with the People's Choice award.   When they called out my name for Best of Show as well, I was shocked and super excited because the award for Best of Show was a Kitchen Aid Mixer!

Obviously, I couldn't be more pleased with how the day went, but mostly, I am happy because I pushed myself and created a cake that I couldn't even imagine being able to do just a year or so ago.  That was the most sugar flower work I have ever done for a cake and honestly, I wasn't even sure I would be able to manage it.  So onward I go. I have no cakes for any friends or family for the next month or so, and the plan is to learn some new sugar flowers, complete a couple of dummy cakes to work on my skills, and obviously bake a little bit and break-in that Kitchen Aid!

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