Holiday Poinsettia Cake
Photography by Prem Midha
Yesterday I entered my second cake competition. This was the Patty Cakes Holiday Cake Affair in Decatur, GA. My first competition was also a Patty Cakes show in September: This Cake :)
This time I was much more calm and prepared. Okay, I don't know about calm, but definitely more prepared!
Ivory Gum Paste Poinsettia
While the ideas for this cake definitely evolved in my head over the last couple of months, I ended up solidifying my design by making a few sketches and picking my favorite.
The first things I made were the poinsettias and the little holly royal icing lace points encircling base of the top tier:
(Aren't Prem's pictures awesome?)
Anyway, I based the little 1" lace points on an Earlene Moore pattern which I modified to meet the holly/ holiday theme.
As for the gum paste poinsettias (which you can see in my previous post)-- well, when I realized they were just over 8" in diameter, I figured I'd better make over-sized cake tiers so that they didn't swallow the cake whole.
That means I baked 12 cakes (15 if you count the batch I screwed up) to make 5.5" tall tiers (standard height is generally 4"). My flavors this time were chocolate cake with dark chocolate peppermint ganache and butter cake with rum syrup and eggnog filling. Now, normally I'm a chocolate person, like seriously. When eating a non-chocolate cake I often find myself thinking 'this is good except that it's not chocolate.' The exception was that butter cake with the eggnog filling. These were some tall cakes!
Remember, I do all this at home: read, one oven and a fridge that was still full of Thanksgiving leftovers 3 days ago... ;)
Anyway, I'll tell you more about the details on the cake and then I'll tell you more about the competition...
I covered the cake in red Satin Ice fondant. It wasn't terribly cooperative. Normally I have very little trouble with white Satin Ice, but the red coloring dries out the fondant and my apartment was pretty cold and dry when i was trying to roll it out. I couldn't get it as thin as I normally do, but I ultimately prevailed.
All of the details were either fondant, gum paste or royal icing. That round ornament is royal icing. :) The pearls were all fondant. Oh by the way, do you love that ribbon around the board as much as I do?
The snowflakes were gum paste, and the fabric/ ribbon swags were a fondant and gum paste blend.
So, the competition. I did a lot more things right this time. First, I finished my cake at about 1:30 AM and managed to get a full night's sleep. In the morning, I had time to eat breakfast and get packed before Prem came to take pictures. I had a full entourage of friends with me, and we packed some wraps so that I'd have something to eat after I set up. AND my friend with an SUV was able to drive the cake over. Score.
I had the whole cake set up at home for pictures and it traveled perfectly. All I had to do was un-box it, orient it, and check it when I got there. No repairs or additional set up was required. *phew* So I set up and ate some lunch.
For the record, as soon as I start to walk in, I get nervous. I'm far too nervous to check out the competition when I first walk in. Everything is very intimidating. This time, since I had eaten and slept (and we had chairs to sit by our cakes-- last time I stood almost the entire time), I was in much better spirits. My competitors on either side of me were wonderful and I had a great time socializing with them and talking cakes. Here's a picture I took after I'd set up at my table:
Not leaning this time! :)
So, in this competition they judge on originality, neatness, and taste (supposedly). The unfortunate thing is there's no published rubric or score sheet, nor do you receive such a sheet after being judged.
After 4 hours, I was more than ready to hear the results. My heart was jumping out of my chest. Unfortunately, I did not place, even though a couple of the judges told me I was 'really close.'
While most cake decorating competitions are not scored on taste and have a more obvious scoring rubric, I think it's important to remember the Earlene Moore school of thought on competition: Never enter a competition expecting to win. I was proud of my entry and saw some great cakes and learned some stuff in the process, so that's great.
Another 'different' thing about this competition is that after the results are announced, you cut slices of your cake for your public. For the record, it's really hard not to doubt yourself when a kid tastes your cake and makes a face. I guess this particular kid had tried some of the chocolate with peppermint and didn't like mint! Eeesh. People's cake tastes can be widely different-- all my friends loved my cake and you should have seen how fast that cake was disappearing at school today. Clearly it wasn't grimace-worthy or people wouldn't have been flooding my lab to get a piece. Still, these situations do come up and sometimes it's hard not to make a face back! :)
Finally, I'd like to thank all my friends who came out and supported me yesterday. You guys are the best!
Maybe I didn't place because I was the only contestant not wearing a chef's coat... it's just not my style! :)
Thanks for looking and let me know if you have any questions about my cake or the competition! Hope you all have a great week. :)