The Cake Competition!

The competition was this past weekend!!  I did it- I made 3 cakes for the competition (2 for tasting, and 1 for decoration).  I didn’t win, but we had a great time!  There were lots of great cakes, so you’ll see pics of them here, plus, I’ll finally reveal my flavor!  I got lots of compliments, so I think I did pretty good (even there there were only two winners per category, there weren’t different places, so I’m not really sure how I ranked, but I guess it doesn’t really matter, lol!).

The theme of the competition was “1982: Birth of a Dream Come True,” which is kind of a difficult theme to work with.  It represents the 30th anniversary of the Mifwife Center’s opening, so that’s the idea of the competition.  Both cakes (tasting and decorated) were supposed to represent that theme.  So for my cakes, I decided to decorate a cake that shows 2 birthday presents stacked on top of each other with a new baby girl popping out of the top (representing the midwife center), except the baby girl is a Troll Doll (representing the 1980’s).  I also decided to step it up another notch and make every bite of my decorated cake edible, even the layers (the support for the cake and the layers didn’t have to be edible).

Several aspects of my decorated cake I had never worked with before, like sculpting rice krispies into shapes, covering a cake with fondant, or tiering a cake.  So…I learned several new things last week!
Here’s the shaping of the head for the troll doll out of Rice Krispie Treats:

After forming the krispie base, I covered it in buttercream:

And then rolled out skin-colored fondant:

I made eyes and ears out of royal icing:
And I molded the fondant to the skull and stuck on the eyes and ears:

(She looks so creepy in this stage…actually, Troll Dolls always looked pretty creepy to me!)
Then I made the fondant for the rest of the cake (it’s melted marshmallows kneaded with powdered sugar!)
Since fondant refrigerates well for several days, I made it in advance, too.

And began baking the layers.  And the flavor is…. Strawberry!

Here are some of the pretty layers!  I cooled them, and then I added my secret ingredient: I brushed each layer with White Balsamic vinagar, and froze them for 2 days before the competition.  I was inspired by some fancy restaurants we have eaten where they serve strawberries and balsamic for dessert- and it’s delicious.

When I was ready to work with the cake, I colored the fondant and covered the layers:

 It wasn’t an easy task for the bottom bigger layer, because I kept rolling the fondant too thin, and then it would rip!  Then I had to start over and re-roll…ugh.  Eventually, I got the cake covered, and assembled for a trial of how it would look at the competition:

Here is the frosting: a Strawberry Buttercream (appropriate, don’t you think!) but it has a very grown-up twist: I added about a Tablespoon of White Balsamic Vinegar, which brightened the frosting and beautifully compliments the sweetness of the berries and sugar!  I know what you’re thinking- vinegar??? In a frosting???  But it is soooo good.  Seriously.
Nice & Whippy; here’s the addition of the Strawberries!

 What next followed was disassembly of the cake and transportation 2 hours away to Pittsburgh.  It wasn’t that easy, though!  We packed each cake separately in a box very carefully so that the layers wouldn’t smash.  It was a nervous process!  Nevertheless, we made it to Pittsburgh, and here we are, at the competition, all set up with the amateur decoration cakes:

 And here we are all set up with our tasting cakes (Strawberry cake brushed with Balsamic and covered in the Strawberry Balsamic Frosting!), and I felt they represented me and this website very well!

The winners of the amateur tasting competition included a Tiramisu Cake and an Angel Food Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting and Crushed Pistachios, both were really delicious!
Here are the other gorgeous decorated cakes in the competition:  Starting with the professional bakers (!!!) and then the amateurs!

 This Strawberry Shortcake Cake is one of my favorites!

 The cake below won one competition:

 And this cake below also won:

 I think this one below was my other favorite!

 Here are the amateur cakes- also very amazing!!

 The cake above won both awards (it looks professional, it’s so good).

 And of course my cake was there too! So exciting! 
 And me, nervous but excited and honored to be there, all at the same time!

At the end of the evening, we met lots of new & interesting people and had a great time eating & talking about cake!  We did decide to make a weekend of it, and got a hotel in the downtown Pittsburgh area; this was the view we woke to on Sunday morning!  It felt like a very brief vacation!

 After a walk around downtown, we went to our favorite brunch spot in Pittsburgh: Park Bruge.
Here are the best mussels EVER:

 And where would Mr. Handsome be without his frites?

 These are my faves: Liege Waffles- they are crispy and sugary on the outside, apparently truly authentic Belgian Waffles.  Love them!!

All in all, it was a very busy and stressful week, but it was such a great learning experience for me to learn how to work with so many new materials and bake for a large group of people!

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