by Linda Cloutier

Saturday, September 10, 2011

2011 Colorado State Fair-Themed Cake Decorating Contest

The final contest at this year's Colorado State Fair was the Themed Cake Decorating Contest held on Monday, September 5th. The theme...the Fabulous Fifties.

This is always an interesting competition. I've found that the judges take the theme very literally and this isn't the place to think outside the box. They have also been very vocal in the past about their preference for buttercream over fondant.  Despite the fact that the rules clearly state that dummies are permissable, last year I noticed the judges subtlely lifting the cakes to determine the medium used. Hmmm....

I used the form cake that I posted about here so, while it wasn't "real" as in, we're going to take it home and have it for dessert tonight, it wasn't a styrofoam dummy, either. As for the cake decoration, what could be more fabulously "Fifties" than a bobby sockser in a poodle skirt? I've never made a doll cake before so I was really looking forward to it.

I started with a skirt baked in a bowl and then carved to attain the small waisted a-line shape I wanted. No well-dressed, well-brought up young woman in the fifties would have dreamed of going out without a slip under her skirt.

To make the lace trim. I used this mold I made in the class I took with James Roselle.

I gave her a pink skirt with a black poodle.

A white strapless blouse and a few accessories completed her ensemble.

A black and white checkerboard dance floor and a few details like a pair of gumpaste saddle shoes, tiny icing earrings, a belt, a bow in the poodle's fur, music notes, and little records (45 rpms, of course) and there she is..."Peggy Sue, all tarted up to go to the hop". Win or lose, I am thrilled with this cake and would love to do another doll cake.

This brings us to delivery. Thanks to some well-placed royal icing and great "cake driving" by BCHE (best cake husband ever) she arrives at the fair in pristine condition. There were just eight entries this year, a lot less than last year. The judges did their thing, and yes, once again, that little lift looking for dummies. Time to announce the winners...

In third place...

In second place...

Peggy Sue!
And in first place...

I have to tell you, the jukebox really played music!

All in all, my whole experience at the fair this year was fun and rewarding. A second place win in the Ghirardelli Chocolate Championship and a second place in the Cake Decorating contest left me feeling very happy. And even though my Peachy Keen Cupcakes didn't place, I now have a great recipe of my own creation.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Peachy Keen Cupcakes; Gingered Peach Cupcakes with Peachy Cream Cheese Frosting

Peachy Keen Cupcakes
Gingered Peach Cupcakes with Peachy Cream Cheese Icing
Gingered Peach Cupcakes
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups C & H granulated sugar
1/4 cup crushed crystallized ginger
1 cup mashed fresh or frozen peaches
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup+ 1 tbs peach nectar
1/2 cup + 1 tbs vegetable oil
3 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp double acting baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

  Pre-heat oven to 350
·      Line standard sized cupcake pans with paper baking cups
·      In small bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks; set aside
·      Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into medium bowl; set aside
·      In mixer, cream butter, sugar and ginger until light and fluffy
·      Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating 1 minute after each
·      Add peaches and vanilla
·      Mix vegetable oil and peach nectar in a measuring cup
·      Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, mix thoroughly then add ½ of the liquid and continue, mixing thoroughly after each addition until all the flour and liquid have been incorporated
·      Gently fold in beaten egg whites
·      Scoop into cupcake pan to 3/4 full; bake about 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean
·      Remove from pan immediately and allow to cool completely on wire rack
·      Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes
Peachy Cream Cheese Icing
1/3 cup cream cheese, room temperature  
1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature  
1/3 cup vegetable shortening    
6 cups (about 1 1/2 lbs) C & H Confectioners’ Sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped peaches
2 tbs peach nectar 
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
·     In mixer, blend cream cheese, butter and shortening until very creamy and smooth
·     Slowly add sugar, nectar, vanilla, and lemon juice; mix on medium speed until smooth
·     With mixer on low, add peaches and mix until incorporated
·     Frost completely cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with crystallized ginger
·     Makes enough to generously frost 2 dozen cupcakes

C & H Sugar Cupcake Challenge at the Colorado State Fair 2011

Last night was the C & H Pure Cane Sugar Cupcake Challenge at the Colorado State Fair. This was my second baking competition. The rules stated that the recipe must be original, made from scratch using no mixes or premade frosting, and contain at least 2 cups of C & H Pure Cane Sugar. Cupcakes would be judged on cake taste and consistency, frosting taste and consistency, creativity, and overall taste and presentation.

Since peaches are in season now, and here in Colorado we have the wonderful Palisades peaches, I decided to base my recipe on peaches. The theme of the fair is The Fabulous 50s so what better name than "Peachy Keen Cupcakes"? Hey, I watched Happy Days.

I created my Peachy Keen Cupcakes by making a "Gingered Peach Cupcake" topped with "Peachy Cream Cheese Icing". I'll post the recipe in a separate blog post. They got all thumbs up from my trusty taste testers.

This is two of the judges tasting my cupcakes. It doesn't get easier to watch someone taste and judge your creations. The other entrants were so nice! We were all nervous together and for each other! There were 17 entries and it took over an hour and a half to get through all the tasting.

Sadly, my cupcakes didn't place. On the bright side, two of my new friends placed first and second so I was very happy for them! ALL the cupcakes looked so good, I don't know how the judges do it. Even though mine didn't win, trust me, they're really good so the winners must have been amazing. I'll be back next year!

Final Fair competition on Monday, the Themed Cake Decorating Contest!