by Linda Cloutier

Thursday, February 21, 2013

2013 Sweet Times in the Rockies Part 1

It's that time again! Time to update you on the 2013 Sweet Times in the Rockies! This year, not only did I enter two cakes, I chaired the committee! It wasn't in the plan, but hey, you know what they say about the best laid plans (OK, it was schemes, and it was of mice and men, not cake decorators, but you get what I mean). I think a whole other blog post should be about the work that goes on behind the scenes of a cake show. For now...

I entered the Advanced Division, Celebration Cakes...

And I won 2nd place!

I called this Around and Around and Around We Go, for obvious reasons. It's an amalgamation of several different things I've wanted to do on a cake for a long time now. Mostly simple techniques that came together to be very visually appealing.

Here's the beautiful 1st place cake in the Advanced Celebration Cakes:

My other entry was in the Advanced Division, Tiered Cakes...I love a tiered cake, especially a tiered cake with ruffles! I was inspired by an appliqued calico tea towel and had SO MUCH FUN! won! 1st place!

I was so pleased, because my competition was pretty stiff! Here's the stunning 2nd place cake:

So, I was very happy overall...

 As always, thanks for reading.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Holiday Chocolate Festival at the Broadmoor

Have you seen the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs? How about at Christmas? Add chocolate...and a cake competition? I'm so there!

I entered both a cake and cupcakes. I misunderstood the entry and thought there were two separate competitions. It also turned out that it wasn't actually a cake decorating contest, just a cake contest. My entries weren't judged on their looks, but on their taste.

Here's what my "All I Want for Christmas is Chocolate!" cake looked like:

I must say, I was so happy with how it came out and I'm thrilled to have it in my portfolio! There's an album of in-progress pictures here.

What did it taste like? Theoretically, like Holiday Chocolate Cake with Italian Cream Filling; a rich, dense cake, the batter generously laced with melted chocolate, torted and filled with a lovely mixture of pastry cream and mascarpone cheese with walnuts and mini chocolate chips, frosted with my Rich Fudge Buttercream, otherwise known as the best chocolate frosting you've ever had. Alas, the judges thought it was too dense, and it came in fourth.

What about the cupcakes? "Cookies and Milk for Santa Cupcakes"; chocolate chip cookie cupcakes, redolant with brown sugar, filled with the Rich Fudge Buttercream that was on the cake and frosted with "Ermine Frosting". This frosting was originally used for Red Velvet cake. It's silky smooth, milky, buttery and not too sweet. It reminds me of soft vanilla ice cream.

Presented with a red and white theme, on a cute Christmas cake stand...

...baked in red liners with swirls of white polka dots...

...and adorned with chocolate Santa hats.

Here they are on display at the festival:

All in all a great experience that I'd do again in a heartbeat!

Thanks for reading along on my journey!

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Little Sadness Tempered with Exciting News

Today is the final day of the 2012 Colorado State Fair. It's also the day of this year's Themed Cake Decorating Contest. I've entered for the past three years. Remember these? It was winning 3rd place with the barnyard cake that really boosted my confidence in my cake decorating skills. Those contests will always be special to me.

The little bit of sadness I'm feeling today is because I didn't enter this year. Many of the special contests at the State Fair are strictly for amateur, non-professional cooks, bakers, and cake decorators. Specifically, "anyone who works in the food industry in any capacity, or operates a catering business, or wears an apron professionally" are excluded from entering.

We all (many of you, anyway) know that I work in a high school. And that I love it. And that's not going to change. And that sure doesn't involve an apron. Which brings us to the exciting part.

This past March, Gov. Hickenlooper signed SB 12-048, commonly known as the Colorado Cottage Food Bill. What does this mean to me? Well, it means for a smallish investment (a food safety class, insurance, a website) I can legally sell cakes and other baked goods from my home kitchen, with some restrictions. It means I can take my hobby to the next level. The next level, for me at least, is to sell just a few really special cakes a year.

This blog will remain dedicated to my cake decorating competitions, though. I have no intention of turning it into a showcase for my sold cakes. That's what Facebook is for! I'd love to have you stop by and say hello, and maybe even LIKE my page while you're there. I'm Iced and Dazzle on Facebook and if you want to check out my website, it's here.

I am looking forward to this next venture just as much as I am to my next cake decorating competition!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

I Did It Again

Entered a cake in an online contest, that is. The theme was Summer Sports and since I already had a picture of a baseball cake, I entered that. The original blog post with the details is here.

This cake was made two years ago for the El Paso County (Colorado) Fair. My decorating skills have improved since then and there are many things I'd do differently now. Well, except for the peanuts...I really like how those gumpaste peanuts came out.

Heck, my picture-taking skills, not to mention my camera, have improved since then. Ignore the date stamp...not only were my picture-taking skills bad, I didn't even know how to get rid of that, never mind have it show the right date!

Much to my surprise, it was voted into the top 10! Out of 79 cakes, it was #8. Very pleased!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Where do competition cakes go when the contest is over?

Well, that all depends on the cake. Is it real cake? Is it faux cake? Is it styrofoam?

If it's real cake, like these:

...well, they either get eaten or thrown away within a few days. These, from my early competition days, were real cake with buttercream under the fondant.

Faux cakes, like these:
...again, it depends. This is technically real cake that's inedible. The ingredients that would cause it to spoil have been removed. You can read more about it here. On Peggy Sue, in the lower right hand corner, the girl in pink, for some reason I used actual buttercream under the fondant. While I was able to display her for quite some time, I did notice some mold and tossed her in the trash in January. The other two cakes have just a bit of shortening under the fondant. I still have both. Lucy the Ladybug is well over a year old and, while showing some fading, still looks great. The fan, which is about five months old, is also holding up extremely well. Sadly, I dropped something on it the other day and broke a large portion of the lace and some of the flowers.

Now, the styrofoam cakes:
...theoretically, they'll last forever! The only reason to get rid of these is due to space restraints or the need to reuse the dummies.

So, what started all this thinking about my old competition cakes? The need for a 6" dummy. So, I said goodbye to my pretty little "Black and White and Ruffled All Over" cake.

Step 1, the still intact cake:

Step 2, remove the top tier. I was hoping to save at least one flower but was unsuccessful.

Step 3, remove the 2nd tier. This is the one I need.

Step 4, separate bottom tier from cake stand.

 Step 5, lots of time under running water to soften up the fondant for removal.

Goodbye cake, hello stripped dummies!

I've noticed that my dummies are starting to wear a bit of each of their incarnations. I kind of like that. My favorite pair of jeans are a pair of Levi's that are many years old. For the past 10 years or so, I've only worn them to paint. They show a story of my projects and home decor evolution. I like that my dummies are now creating a history of their own.

So, why did I need the dummy tier, you wonder? This is it's next incarnation:

Dahlia on dummy
It became the top tier of a cake that was too small to have the WOW factor needed for the party. If you're interested in the rest of the cake or the party you can see more pictures on my Facebook page.

"What the judges liked and didn't like" posts coming soon (I promise) on the competition cakes from February!

As always, thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Black and White Online

I've posted here before how I feel about online cake contests. I don't like them. There's no way to make them truly fair. There's the professionals up against the most beginning of beginners. There's the wide range of photo quality. There's the Photoshopping. There's the vote solicitation.

All that being said, do you think I can resist entering? Heck, no! If I have a cake that suits, it's going in that contest!

My cakes have always seemed to lose something in pictures. I've recently acquired a better camera and have been working to improve my pictures. I even brighten and sharpen them a bit with Photoshop Elements. While they're far from professional, they are getting better and I can really see a difference. After all, once the cake has been eaten, there's nothing left but the pictures!

Shortly before I learned about this contest, I had found this cake stand at an Antiques and Collectibles Show:

Black and white toile cake stand
Almost as soon as I brought home the cake stand, I started envisioning a cake for it. I'm in love with the look of ombre ruffles on cakes and knew I wanted to incorporate that look. Twenty three layers of ruffles in 11 shades to take it from pure white to black. The perfectionist in the back of my mind wishes I had used at least 2 or 3 more variations of gray.

Ombre ruffles
I also played with some fantasy flowers in black and white with black leaves. Made with one part of an orchid cutter set and highlighted by painting the edges with black food color.

Add some vertical white ruffles on a black background with a trim of tiny piped royal icing beads.

Vertical ruffles
Talk about kismet...a Black and White Cake Contest! I decided to enter the finished cake.

Black and White and Ruffled All Over
The contest works by featuring all the entered cakes. Members of the site (a cake decorators' social networking site ) vote by "favoriting" cakes. The top 10 cakes are then featured and the winners (1st and 2nd place) are determined by judges. Well, I am excited to say my cake made the top 10! Out of 68 entries, mine came in at #9 with 41 favorites. OK, so it barely squeaked into the top 10, but I'll take it!  I believe the winner (which was absolutely gorgeous) had 60-something favorites. I've never come even close to placing in anything online so I was really pleased with the outcome.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sweet Times in the Rockies 2012 Part 1

I am amazed to realize that it's been five months since I've posted! Once the Colorado State Fair was over with in September, I got more involved in cake decorating competitions by volunteering to be on the Sweet Times in the Rockies Cake Show Committee. Incredible, how much work goes on behind the scenes of a cake show.

While my original plan included three cakes, I ultimately ended up just entering two. I'm so glad I decided to nix the 3rd cake. Way too much on my plate those last few weeks leading up to the show!

Entry #1

A Vintage Lace Bridal Fan, inspired by my own bridal flowers, from 28 years ago!

Division 6- Adult Advanced
Category: Celebration Cakes

I won 2nd place!
Vintage Lace Bridal Fan

Here's a picture of the 3rd place cake in that category:

...and the first place, which also won Best in Division (Go, Sadie!):

Entry #2

"Hearts and Flowers", a fun, tongue-in-cheek Valentine's Day wedding cake, inspired by all the sweet, bright, silly Valentine's Day decorations at my local craft store!

Division 6- Adult Advanced
Category: Tiered Cakes

This cake also won 2nd place in its category!

Hearts and Flowers
This is the bow on top of the open box:


Here's a picture of the 3rd place cake in that category:

...and the first place.

In my next post, there'll more pictures of my cakes, with details on the techniques and materials used. As I've done in the past, I'll break down how I did score-wise and discuss what the judges liked (and didn't like) about my cakes.

Thanks for reading!