by Linda Cloutier

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Lucy the Ladybug: The Process and Judges' Feedback

So, going a little backwards here, but I thought I'd share a bit of how the cakes came about along with the judges' feedback. I didn't take very organized photos. I'm still not thinking ahead to what I want to post here.

Here's the very first step in planning Lucy the Ladybug's flower...
How big can I make a flower and still have it fit in a 20" x 20" area (per the contest rules)? Well, an 18" board will hold six 6" petals, that's how big! Now, what to do with that cakeboard?

Orange fondant, hot pink and orange ribbon...oops, turns out that ribbon is not quite wide enough once the board is covered in fondant...add some hot pink trim...done.

Here's the actual cake's real cake but not really...

...and random ladybug parts...the hearts are for the other cake...

...with extras, just in case.

Lucy, ready for her close-up...

...and once again, the finished cake...

The scoring was on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 = excellent, 5 = good or above average, 1 = fair/needs improvement. Highest possibe score was 90. This cake was judged by two well-known cake decorators.

My scores were 65 and 67 out of 90!

I got high scores (8 or above) on Originality (one judge gave me a 10 for Originality, the other a 9!), Skill, Neatness, Creativity, and Execution of Techniques.

I got medium scores (6- 7) on Overall Eye Appeal, Color Combination and Appropriateness, Innovation, and Number of Techniques Used.

Positive comments included "fantastic idea", "petals are amazing", "fun cake", "ladybug is adorable", "great job with piping...", "love your base board".

Constructive criticism was mostly about the intensity of the pinks and oranges. "Color scheme is a little bold, but works nicely", "would love to see less of the same intense orange, pink & yellow", "consider adding red somewhere else". I was concerned a little about the color as well once the cake was completed. At that point, though, I'm not sure how I could have fixed it. I still loved that cake, and am anxious to have a chance to do another (smaller, tastier) version of it.

Overall, I was EXTREMELY pleased with my scores and the judges' comments. When compared to my entry last year, I have grown and improved in all areas and that's always my goal!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sweet Times in the Rockies, 2011...the Results!

FINALLY, after weeks and weeks of work and anticipation...the weekend of the Sweet Times in the Rockies show arrived! Seems like no matter how much time I give myself to work on cakes, I'm down to the wire getting them done! I had arranged to take the Friday off from the job that supports my cake habit and finished my 2nd cake at about 1:00 p.m. All entries needed to be dropped off at the Denver Convention Center between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. I packed up my cakes, my emergency repair kit and a bottle of water and left about 3:30. Typically, the drive takes about an hour and fifteen minutes. On Friday the traffic was terrible and it took over 2 1/2 hours!

One of my favorite parts of the show is checking in and dropping off the cakes. It's so fun to see the cakes arriving and watch people get them set up. There's lots of chatting and comparing notes and helpfulness. The hard part is leaving behind these cakes that I've been living and breathing for close to 2 months! But, I manage to tear myself away. I'll be back the next day, as I've volunteered to work. I'll be able to check on them then.

It was my first time working the show and I loved it! I was stationed behind the cake display tables, between the kids' and beginners' divisions and got to talk to people and answer questions about cake for hours! The judges, who had started at 9:00 in the morning, were still at it at 4:00 p.m. Talk about dedication!

The awards ceremony was held on Sunday so we headed to Denver, my 3rd trip of the weekend. We got there in time to spend some time walking around the Garden and Home Show. That was fun.

There were ten divisions of cakes, all getting awards, and there were so many stunning cakes that I honestly don't remember a lot of the winners. I'll post a link to the website when it's updated with the pictures and placements. I do, however, remember MY categories!

I entered the Intermediate Adult Division.

Here's my entry into the Celebration Cakes category:
Lucy the Ladybug
It won 1st place in that category! I was so thrilled because I really, really, really love this cake. I've been teasing my husband that I'm going to redecorate my dining room to match so I can use it as a centerpiece forever!

And here's my entry into the Tiered Cakes category:
In Love With Lavender
It won 1st place, too! Not only did it win 1st place, it also won Best in Division! But, the BEST part? The judges, who are all master cake decorators, all of whom have been featured on either Food Network Challenge or TLC’s Ultimate Cake Off, gave my cake a “Special Award” for BEST flower (the hydrangea at the base). I was so shocked and excited!

Here's the hydrangea...

Much gratitude to Petalsweet for the wonderful tutorial.

Thanks so much for reading and allowing me to share my excitement! Next up, some background on the cakes, some lessons learned and judges' feedback.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Wilton Cake Decorating Challenge, May, 2010

The next cake competition I entered after the STITR last year was the Wilton Cake Decorating Challenge on May 22, 2010. This competition was planned and organized by my Wilton instructor.

The theme was "Wedding and Special Occasion Cakes"; cakes had to be a minimum of 2 tiers and could be pre-iced or covered in fondant (no borders or other decor). Decorations could be pre-made but could not be added to the cake until after the start time. I had a blast making this for the top of my wedding cake...

Once there, we had 1 1/2 hours to decorate our cakes. We were in the classroom at Michael's so people could watch us through the window and come in and out of the room. I had NO idea how nerve wracking it would be to have people watch me decorate! On the other hand, it was fun hearing people's comments and answering questions.

I started with a naked green cake and added "love letters" and hearts...

Then borders and scrolls and details...

You would never guess how much I had practiced piping scrolls prior to this cake. Remember how nerve wracking this was? My hands were shaking and my piping was nowhere near as good as it could have been. Not to mention, 1 1/2 hours goes by really fast! Overall, though, I was pretty happy with the end result.

Our finished cakes were scored by the judges and kept on display for a couple of hours so customers could vote for their favorites. Much to my amazement, I won 1st place for both the judges pick and customer favorite!

Here's the pictures I took of the other contestants' cakes...

2nd Place
Amazing figures!
After 1st and 2nd place, I honestly don't remember how the other cakes placed but here they are, in no particular order...

Loved the color combination on this one!
What a fun graduation cake!
All in all, this was a really fun and rewarding day! Charity, thanks for doing all the planning and work it took to do this...and thank you for the in-progress pictures of my cake!

Again, thanks for reading. Next? The El Paso County Fair, July 2010.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sweet Times in the Rockies, 2011...Quick update!

Just wanted to say I finished my Celebration Cakes entry yesterday! I'm very happy with how it came out and now my excitement over the show is really ramped up!

Cake count: One down, one to go!

Day count: Six!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sweet Times 2010, The Judges' Feedback

I thought, since this blog is all about competition, that I'd do a post about what the judges liked, and didn't like, about this cake.

The scoring was on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 = excellent, 5 = good or above average, 1 = fair/needs improvement. This cake was judged by two well-known cake decorators.

I got high scores (7 or above) on Originality, Overall Eye Appeal, Neatness, Color Combination and Appropriateness, and Creativity. I got medium scores (5 - 6) on Innovation, Skill, Number of Techniques Used, Execution of Techniques.

The positive written feedback I received was about my cakeboard cover and the shading on my magnolia. The constructive criticism was that my piping is inconsistent and my brush embroidery needs work. Hmm, I was going for a non-traditional, impressionistic look with that tier. Not sure if they didn't get that, or just didn't like it.

As for the inconsistent piping, I've been practicing as much as possible since then, trying to do some piping on every cake I do. I think I've improved, let's hope the judges agree this year!

As always, thanks for reading!