Cake Techniques, Competitions, To Cake or Not

Competition – The countdown has begun.

I was reminded this past week, as I was updating a website dedicated to cake decorating and sugar art classes, that my time to complete a competition piece is slowly dwindling down.

On the Facebook group I belong to we discuss that very thing almost on a daily basis as other competitors talk about their projects and the issues they are running into.

Yet here I am again only 3 months out from the Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show (OSSAS) and I have yet to start anything.  This topic of discussion even came up during my son’s birthday dinner when my children went on and on about how I procrastinate every year and it’s true.

I don’t know why I can’t seem to get motivated until about a month or two out from the competition day.  I have all these ideas and plans in my head but most do not make it to paper.  They remain ideas and not reality.

Then when I’m actually being proactive and putting the ideas to paper I hem and haw about it so much I run out of time to complete them.  I have numerous drawings and I ideas that never came to fruition.

One of my personal goals is to one day become a master sugar artist and have my own retail business related to this art form but in order to do so my personal beliefs in what I need to be doing is in conflict right now.

Now a single parent, I am the sole responsible person for ensuring my children’s future as well as my own is secure and stable.  So that means finding a well-paying career that will support everything we want to do and accomplish until they can become their own, self-sustaining men and women.  I have found a career path that will enable that but it means devoting and focusing a lot of time to it right now.

At this point trying to fit teaching cake decorating & sugar art classes, taking my own classes on the subject and begin selling products such as cake, cookies or cupcakes is not going very well.

Couple that with trying to finish a college degree, be that active participating parent for my children and focus on my own well-being & recovery.

So my days are either going to be very long from this point forward or I had to decide to put some things aside for the time being.  It was part of the discussion with my son earlier this week.

We came up with a plan that hopefully will enable me to work all my goals. Trying to be patient once again is my barrier at this point.  Taking a step back and working things through in a logical order, a little at a time, is one of the ideas we came up with and that I’m planning out.

So this year I have been trying to muster up the energy to actually start putting some of those ideas into action.

All things considered, first things first though, I have to decide what categories I wish to enter into this year.  My plan has always been to enter categories that I haven’t tried yet just to see how that process goes overall.

I’m considered a former Wilton Method Instructor since I just signed back up to teach cake decorating classes again in December of 2015 but yet to have any classes.  So I still have to enter the Adult Advanced division. I have a friend I made through the cake show who competes in the same division, so we are trying not to compete against each other if we can help it. 🙂

If you have never competed in this show there are 7 divisions from Junior up to Masters.  Division #1 is an open category for the Junior and Teens.  There are 7 categories for all other divisions and are as follows:  Novelty, Holiday Cakes, Special Occasion Cakes, Tiered Cakes (Wedding or Non-Wedding), Special Techniques (not on a cake), Confections and Chocolate Chocolate.

Then in addition to these categories there are special competitions this year such Gingerbread Houses and Flower Baskets.  Along with these two is this year’s baking competition: Beautiful biscotti.

My favorite competition has to be the one sponsored by professionals in their specific mediums.  This year it’s Royal Iced Christmas Cake sponsored by Master Artist Ceri Griffiths, Pastillage – Under the Sea Theme sponsored by Master Sugar Artist, Chef Dawn Parrott and Pastry Chef Julia Usher’s Decorated Cookies following this year’s theme Perfume.

Many categories and options to choose from, as a competitor, trying to limit it to a reasonable amount of categories that can be completed within the time constraints is a daunting process and kind of overwhelming.

So like the competition pieces that I should be creating I need to start with a plan of action.  Decisions need to be made about what do I want to create and how do I go about accomplishing it?

I normally start with just brain storming ideas related to a subject.  Take for example this idea I had for the 20th Anniversary of OSSAS in 2013.  I never started this project so it was just another concept.

Brainstorming Project Idea

Then after I brainstorm random thoughts about a topic. I usually will pick out things related to the topic and map those out.  This helps narrow everything down if possible.

Mapping Project Idea

Then once I have narrowed it down and have come up with ideas then I will normally do a rough sketch of the project and what I think it will look like.

Rough Sketch Project Idea

Then find related pictures of the pieces that I will use when I go to construct everything if I haven’t already drawn it out.

After all of this pre-planning is done then comes the task of figuring out the specifications while keeping in mind the rules for the competition.

How big is the display going to be?

What is the medium I will use, Fondant, Gumpaste, Pastillage, Royal Icing, Modeling Chocolate or a combination?

Then I have to take into consideration what my strengths and weaknesses are relating to my level of knowledge.

Can I make figures?  Will the structure be sound and what will the base be made of cake, Rice Krispy treats or both? Do I have the tools to create it or how can I substitute?

As with any competition a person wants to push themselves beyond their comfort zone otherwise you don’t grow.  Learning something new and practicing before-hand may be required.  That also requires time and planning.

As you can see sometimes competition is not always about others in the same division or category.

The main competitor you will face is yourself through finding motivation, dedication and time.

Thanks for stopping by.

Have an awesome week ahead!

Happy Caking!