I am new to cake decorating, and this amazing forum. I made my first cake in January of this year and just completed my First Wilton class. I want to primarily bring joy to family and friends but they are easily impressed! I thought it would be more challenging and help me improve my skills to enter a cake show. There is one near me at the end of the month. I was hoping someone with experience could help me understand where to focus my practice and preparation so I can be proud of what I enter. Whether I end up with a ribbon or not doesn't matter to me as much as aiming for it.
I entered my first year of decorating as well. I really can't say what the judges look for and what weighs heavier than other things, but there are usually several categories that they judge you on.... such as neatness, use of color, and overall appearance. Just make something you want to make and don't think someone would want and/or pay for.
The first time I entered a contest I just entered... something. I tried my best on it but had no idea what to expect. After that I had an idea of what to focus on based on the winners.
The judges for that contese looked at:
I did a unique cake when I entered mine, a sandwich and when I droped my cake off I noticed all the other cakes were "wedding" looking caked 3 teir with flowers, I got 2nd place but I could tell they wanted pretty cakes rather than unique cakes
Will it be a cake show where your baking skills are part of the score or simply a decorating contest?
I just competed in the San Diego Cake Club's show over the weekend. We were judged (I think--I don't have the score sheet in front of me) on overall design, originality, degree of difficulty, neatness/execution and color(?)
My cake was fairly simple but I did get 2nd place for the amateur/beginner category in fondant, tiered cakes. I got high marks for clean execution and cohesiveness of design & color.
It is better to do something simple really well than to do something complicated & make a lot of mistakes. Obviously, you want to challenge yourself but focus & practice on a skill that you can show off to the best of your ability.
PS/Edit--If you would like to see my cake, I just posted it:
here's a great forum post that i often refer to:
I just entered my first cake competition a few weeks ago. I looked up the rules and regulations ahead of time to find out what I would be judged on, pretty much went on the website and read everything! I think they're usually judges similarly (the criteria mentioned above) but it helps to check just to be prepared. Also, if there is a theme try to stick to it, marks are taken off otherwise. In my case, I wanted to try some new techniques, but this is where you want to use your best work and most impressive techniques. Showcase what you do well... Oh, and a tip that was given to me by one of the judges afterward- cover your board you get more points (I just had foil on mine).
I was nervous and didn't know what to expect. I kept telling my husband that I at least didn't want to embarrass myself but I ended up winning! It was a lot of fun!! Go for it and Good Luck!
This information gives me more confidence to follow my instincts which were to do something I like and do it well. You have convinced me to try to raise the bar by perfecting something i already know rather than try something too new or ambitious.
Thank you so much!
don't forget this should be YOUR cake ... something you want to make and personalize. that will make you extra proud. it was totally awesome when my friends/family went to the last show i entered and could pick out which cakes were mine without me telling them!
Check out former major contestants sites and they will give you pointers. Like Ruth's Sweet Justice in Oklahoma, and Earlene's Cakes.com. Both have really good pointers as to what judges look for and both have competed in the Oklahoma Sugar Show which is one of the nation's biggest shows.
But what Ive noticed, is if you ask the people that put the show on, they tell you basics. Like one year I asked about what to do when you enter a cake for tasting only. They told me they just needed a small cake, doesnt have to be decorated, enough for the three judges to sample. But when I got there, everyone had these big elaboratly decorated cakes with big presentations. So ofcourse putting mine next to their's wasnt even close. So even if your category is something like cookies, make sure that their not just decorated cookies, but your presentation should look good as well. Believe me, when I entered my first time, I was very naive to what judges wanted. It really is a humbling experience when you are put against people. One thing is to never go into a competition expecting to win. Even if you think your stuff is way better than what everyone else has, you never know how the judging is going to be. Use it as an learning experience and a chance to challenge yourself only. And if you happen to place, then good for you!
Most definitely read through the whole thread that metria linked. It has tons of useful information.
Good luck and be sure to post pictures (and results) of whatever you decide to do!