Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cake competitions, the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful!

I thought I'd share some thoughts on cake competitions.  As I mentioned, I had an impromptu trip back to the uk, so time got crunched severely.  I had high hopes for my competition cake.

I decided to 'go big or go home' and enter the grand wedding cake competition.  It required 4 tiers, they must be different shapes and heights.  The cake was to be based upon a song.  I decided on 'an english country garden' and set about making some flowers.

I knew grandma needed to be acknowledged, so the second tier was violets (her real name) with one white violet on the back for her.  I also made daffodils, roses, lily of the valley, ivy, gentian.  I wanted to do so much more, but didn't have time, with just one day to do what I could to enter a cake.  I thought as it was a wedding cake, it would be fun to have a gnome bride and groom, since they were mentioned in the song.

I knew straight away I wouldn't win anything, this is nowhere near the standard of the other entries, but I thought it important that I enter something, as the cake club would have empty spaces where cakes were supposed to be.

I was very disappointed to be 'called out' later by a member of the cake club for submitting a cake that wasn't quite up to scratch.  I know its catty, but this is my space, and I wanted to share how traumatizing the cake world can be.  I'm very lucky that this has been one of my only nasty experiences.  It really knocked the stuffing out of me, I was so embarrassed to be entering a sub-standard cake to the competition, and for being called out.  It was particularly difficult since none of the people had mentioned anything when I brought the cake, which would have been the appropriate time.  I'm just getting my mojo back, but I felt this should be a cautionary tale for anyone who gets into this kind of thing.  Competitions can be hard core and a world that should be full of sweetness and sugar can often be very sour at times.

Also, its very easy to take constant complements from well meaning family and friends and start to think that you are some kind of amazing genius.  I think its good to be reminded of ones place, I make little cakes, I try my best to make sure they are made with the best ingredients and taste wonderful, I love to make them pretty, but I'm not a prizewinning 'cake artist'.

Onto happier things, there were lots of other wonderful entries in the competition, I'm embarrassed that I forgot to get a photo, but congratulations to my dear friend, Jaqueline Butler for her wonderful spring entry, and her first prize rosette!

 Here's a lovely example of string work from my super talented friend, Chanisa.

A stunning succulent (I'd love to get a lesson!) and amazing piece of artwork from the lovely Sugarlump Cakery.

Another lovely piece of art from Hey there cupcake.  I love her unusual technique of using rice paper as a decoration, to produce etherial flowers and a beautiful canvas for patterns.

Here are a few other cakes that caught my eye, there were lots of stunning pieces, but here are a few highlights.  Some of the lighting was bad, so it was difficult to get great pictures of everything, and I missed out some wonderful artwork, but it was amazing to see what is possible with sugar!  And it was great to raise so much money for the Ronald Macdonald house, where families with children in hospital can stay so that they can be close by.


IA said...

I think you're amazing. You're my favourite cake maker.

Unknown said...

Good Post! We all have our unique roll in the cake world, none better than the other. Keep doing what you do best!

Ann said...

Of course I think you're up to scratch! But if the competition is 'perfect or nothing' that's what you understand and us mere supporters don't. Keep it up and try hard. You did your best in the circumstances. It's right a to draw a line under this episode and learn - but did the lady know what you'd just been through?

Christine said...

If there was a problem with your cake, then it should have been communicated directly to you before the cake was displayed. That's how mature people deal with problems.

The kind of behavior your seeing is what happens when anyone thinks their little cake show or dog show or ballroom competition makes them important. Have you ever seen the movie Strictly Ballroom or Best in Show? That's exactly the mentality you're dealing with here. You're interacting with the Toddlers and Tiaras of cake people. I'm sorry you have to deal with it.

I'm not in love with that particular cake you submitted, but then I like really traditional frosting and not all the fondant and gum paste. However, I can appreciate it for the fun style of cake that it is.

I hope the person apologizes to you directly. It's perfectly fine that they didn't like your cake. It's not okay to express that opinion in such a mean spirited way.

Grandma Tillies Bakery said...

I enjoy reading your blog and I am one of those people that think your cakes are lovely.

One of the reasons I have no interest in cake competition is the very same reason I got burned out with horse showing. People take an activity that started out as fun and turn it into a life-or-death, winner take all, out for blood mentality. I hate that!

I am sorry you were treated poorly, you did not deserve that, nobody does. Sometimes I wish people would just get over themselves!

I am glad to hear you are feeling better.

karen said...

Quite frankly, I thought that cake was whimsical, and charming too. I'm scooting over here from CocoCupcakes (from your comment there) and think your work is pretty stunning overall.

The other cakes are pretty pretty amazing too, I especially loved the one with the rice paper flowers set upon it. Wow.