Once again Pastry Live, now in its fifth year, featured some outstanding cake designs. We interviewed the winners from the sculpted cake competition to learn about their inspiration and to find out what the judges had to say.This year’s Art of Cake competition was split into two divisions—one for tiered cakes and another for sculpted designs. The theme for the competition was “toys” and the participants took this idea in all different directions.
First Place, Sculpted Cakes: Johanna Wyss, student at Joliet Junior College
Over the summer Johanna studied in Japan and she designed her cake while there, inspired by the rich cultural heritage she discovered. “My host family had marvelous mobiles of little plush toys on strings as decorations in their guest room, so the toys that my toy maker has just finished sewing are replicas of pieces found on that real life mobile, in tribute to their hospitality,” she explained.
Her tasting cake was almond with jasmine oolong mousse and coconut gelee. The judges appreciated the flavor combination and its tie to the design of the cake.
“This was my first professional competition and my first attempt at building anything on this scale, so there were definitely some tribulations along the way. I was simply thrilled that my cake made it down from Chicago! The judges and fellow competitors offered really great tips and insight. I think the most impactful message that was imparted to me that weekend is that being a cake artist is a legitimate career path which is gaining recognition. Pastry Live was a very inspiring and recharging event.”
Second Place, Sculpted Cakes: Katharina McCawley , Pretty Cake Machine
“My piece displayed toys common to central Europe between 1920-1950,” explained Katarina. My references consisted almost entirely of family photos from the period, many of which featured my grandparents and their siblings clutching cherished toys, which were often handmade and one of a kind. For example, my grandfather’s mother was a seamstress and created dresses for her daughters’ dolls that ended up reflecting their own fashion. I tried to incorporate details reflective of facts like this in the cake, and also tried to keep it as visually accurate to the time period as I could.”
Her tasting cake was a reworked version of Schwimmbadtorte, a German cake consisting of layers of vanilla butter cake, meringue with toasted almonds, whipped cream and gooseberry filling. Since this would be impossible to stack, she tweaked profile, keeping the gooseberry filling, but using almond dacquoise and triple sec Italian buttercream instead of meringue and whipped cream, while the sled was made of gingerbread.
She’s posted a nicely detailed explanation (part one) of her process over on her blog. It’s definitely worth checking out!
Third Place, Sculpted Cakes: Marilyn Bawol, Unique Cakes
“I wanted to include a bit of mischief in the piece, so this was a whimsical look at what toys do when nobody is watching,” explained Marilyn. “The toys painted on the sides of the box come to life—the monkey cranks the crank, the soldiers start to march and Jack-in-the-box becomes a rag doll puppeteer.”
Marilyn used a new product of her own design, called Flexique, which remains flexible indefinitely. This was used for the doll’s dress and Jack’s hat and, in combination with wafer paper, for Jack’s frilled neck and sleeves and puppet strings. The doll’s hair was a mix of Flexique and fondant which allowed her to braid the yarn hair.