Captivating Confections Contest


Madison Meyer

The “Alice in Wonderland” inspired cakes is displayed during the Edible Art Contest on April 24. Meyer competed, along with 8 other students.

There was pink icing everywhere, smeared on the counter, oozing out of the piping bag, sticky on my hands. It smelled of sugar as the remaining heat from the oven drifted out. There were cake crumbs on the floor and a pile of bowls and utensils in the sink. My kitchen looked like the warzone of a couple of french pastry chefs.

But I had created a cake of which I was proud. I had been away from home for Spring Break the night before, so I had not gotten to starting my baking until the night before the Edible Art Contest.

I had heard about the contest during my art class. Art teacher Bruno Baran told me that other schools were invited and the creations would be judged on taste and artistry. The artistry included composition, creativity, and attention to detail. There were four categories: Tribute to a Novel, Author, Painting, or Art Movement (i.e. the Renaissance movement).

I always loved the whimsical tale of “Alice in Wonderland.” I figured this would be a good focus for my cake because it was a classic with many recognizable characters and motifs.

So I sketched, trying out different compositions and ideas. I came up with one I liked: Alice perched atop a teacup. My initial vision was quite different than the final result, but I often find the same phenomenon with my art, it takes on a life of its own, metamorphosing.

I went with a simple white cake, fluffy and moist. I baked a double batch in a 9 x 13 pan so that I would have a lot of cake to work with. I made my favorite buttercream icing, using the Magnolia Bakery recipe. I heated and rolled out fondant, a thick icing paste that can be rolled out, which is a tricky material to work with, yet it can look very professional and clean if used correctly.

While the cake was in the oven, I went to work sculpting Alice, one body part at a time. The trick to working with fondant is keeping it at the perfect temperature: warm enough to knead, but cool enough so it is not super sticky. So I often put finished parts in the fridge or freezer before assembling the whole.

I iced the base cake, a square piece I had cut, and made fondant cards that I painted using a concentrated gel food coloring. I put the cards on, followed by a teacup I had carved out of the extra cake before icing it pink. I assembled Alice with the help of a few toothpicks before sitting her on the teacup and attaching a fondant handle to the cup. I sprinkled sparkly sanding sugar on the edges of the cake for a last bit of finesse.

The next day I took the cake into school, where I put the finishing touches on, like painting Alice. After school I carried the cake to the cafeteria. There were five different teams, including myself. Which was not as many contestants as I thought there would be and no other schools had attended.

Each of the creations was tested by the judge, Becky Gutterberger, who works in the cafeteria, as well as all of the onlookers and contestants. There were some very creative pieces of ‘edible art,’ including a “Frozen” cake and a “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” cake. I especially admired a cake that was a tribute to the Impressionist movement, specifically Pointillism, using dots to create a larger picture.

The “Frozen” cake by Julianna Richard, Kelly Foulk, and Sydney Branch won as best ‘Tribute to an Artist.’ The impressionistic cake by Erica Lipford and Catey Minnis won as best ‘Tribute to an Art Movement.’ Each were the only entries in their categories and there were no entries for the ‘Tribute to an Author.’ The “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” cake made by Annalee Gabler and Mitchell Hopkins won for the best ‘Tribute to a Book.’ Conrad Gagnon’s Wookiee Cookies from Star Wars won ‘Best in Show.’ Each winner received a gift card.

Although I did not win, I had a lot of fun baking a cake and gained experience in sculpting with fondant. I was inspired by the other edible creations and I had a positively delicious afternoon.

Madison Meyer is an In-Depth Editor for The Patriot and