I've decided to enter my 1st competition! I haven't been to one before (even to view cakes) so I'm looking for advice on what I can do to stand out. I hate not knowing what to expect. What do judges look for? I'm entering two cakes - a single tier baby and 3 tier wedding cake. I have in my mind what I want to do with them, just looking for tips and suggestions from seasoned competitors to help enhance my project. Thanks!
Yay! I have never been in one before either, but I'm entering one next month. I guess I can't offer you any advice, but can share your feelings of anticipation! Good luck!
I've entered several competitons and posted a list of things that I found helpful and that the judges look for on another post. I know there are other posts here at Cake Central with lots of good info to help too.
Sugarflowers ( Michele Foster) posted some very helpful tips before too. Perhaps you could do a search on competitions.
One of the main things judges want to see is neatness. This includes the board.
Choice of color is important. Be sure that the colors you use work well together.
Originality goes a long way, but it's not the biggest criteria. Even if you use an idea from a book or web site, change it enough to make it your own.
The difficulty of the techniques adds points. Don't do something difficult just for points unless you can do it well.
There's more but I can't think of them right now. If they come to mind I'll post again.
When I mentioned cake boards I forgot to add that foil boards should not be used unless you have nothing else or at least cover them. All boards should have a ribbon trim on them. This makes them look much neater and more professional. There are many ways to make cake boards look nice, go through the gallery to get some ideas. Adding a finger lift to the bottom will make them easier to move and makes them look nicer on the table. Attaching a smaller cake board to the bottom is a very easy way to do this.
One of the hardest things to overcome is not scoring as well as expected. What we see and what the judges see may be completely different. Judges are only human, they judge based on personal taste more often than not. I know it is not supposed to be this way, just accept that it is. There will always be something we don't like about judging, whether it's for cakes or watching the Olympics.
If you have a blemish on your cake, do your best to hide it. Just be sure to make it appear to be part of the decoration and not just covering a boo-boo. As a judge, I like to see how well someone covers a problem. Some are very creative. The mark of a good decorator is someone who can cover a flaw and make it look like it was all part of the plan.
Good luck with your entries. Don't kill yourself over them. Remember, it's a competition not a life threatening situation.
I just looked at your gallery and your work is very creative and well done. You should do well. I have only entered a competition twice. I don't have alot of experience, but took SugarFlowers advice and found it to be very helpful! I think neatness is extremely important and another thing I think is important is attention to detail.
Unless I missed it, is this decoration only ? or is taste included...
If it includes taste, judges hate intense flavors.. also flavors that are too busy meaning a mixture of too many flavor in one cake.. They want to taste it, but not overwhelmingly. For looks they do not like sloppy work. And also the degree of difficulty is important. Don't make something that look like it was made by Sams Club, not that that's what you plan to do . Your cakes are beautiful Good luck
Thanks everyone, all of the info is so helpful. It's looks only (not taste) but in the event of a tie a real cake will win over a dummy.
I have competed alot and been a judge several times. My advice:
Clean, clean, clean work. It is better to do something perfect, than to do too much and not have it perfect.
If it comes down to two perfect cakes, then degree of difficulty trumps.
Check and double check all the rules of competition. You can have a perfect cake, and if you don't follow a guideline or rule, your perfect cake is disqualified.
Dummies may work better because you can start ahead and take longer to complete. The contests I did, the dummy had to be something you could also recreate in real cake.
Good luck and keep us posted!