A fun memory of a scouting activity I did quite a few years ago with my son Joe had nothing to do with camping or hiking or fire-building.
It had to do with cake decorating.
His Cub Scout pack in Mifflintown had a cake decorating contest to raise some funds for something - probably camp - and Joe and I had some fun in the kitchen creating a caterpillar cake. I had seen it in a woman's magazine and he liked the idea, so we bought the materials and went to work in the kitchen.
The cake itself was baked in a Bundt pan, then cut in half and connected to form the shape of an S. We used white icing and plenty of different candies to decorate it into a colorful caterpillar.
Seeing the clever cakes that other scouts made was great fun, and during the auction afterward, it was amusing to watch the young scouts beg their parents to bid high enough to purchase their own cakes (we were outbid for Joe's caterpillar cake)!
Lately, cake decorating has been taken to the level of an Olympic sport, with a variety of reality TV shows and competitions dominating the airwaves, and the popularity of novel confections reaching an all time high.
Today's cakes that look like anything but cakes are a far cry from our humble caterpillar cake, but I enjoy watching the process of creation.
There are plenty of resources available for aspiring "cake bosses," from books at the library, to classes at craft stores and an endless supply of tutorials online. There are also a lot more products available at local stores and online designed to make creative decorating easier.
And the cake decorating trend has gone far beyond the conventional two-layer and sheet cakes, to include cupcakes, cake pops and treat pops. The possibilities for creative decorating are endless with these formats.
I know this because I?spent an inordinate amount of time over the weekend "surfing the Web," and discovered a lot of ideas, helpful tips and inspiration from Websites like:
Be sure to check out YouTube for a mind-boggling array of how-to videos, and Pinterest for lots of stunning photos and ideas.
Then, get ready to bake and decorate because there are two local cake decorating contests that area cooks can enter this month. Here are the details.
Relay For Life
The theme for the annual Cake Decorating Contest at the Mifflin-Juniata Relay For Life this year revolves around superheros.
Decorated homemade cakes and cupcakes can be entered at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Relay at Kish Park. Judging will take place at 3 p.m., followed by an auction of the cakes.
The Kids Division is for ages 5 to 16 years; Adult Division, 17 and older.
Entries will be judged on taste, texture, presentation, appearance and representation of this year's 2013 Relay theme: "20 years, Have no fear, Relayers are Superhero's!!!!
Prizes range from movie passes to Carousel skate passes to gift cards.
Judges are Kelsey Houser, a representative from the State College American Cancer Society; a cancer survivor (yet to be named); and Lynn Scarton-Fohringer, culinary arts teacher at the Mifflin-Juniata Career and Technology Center.
As food editor of The Sentinel, I have judged the contest at the Relay in the past and can say that there are some very talented decorators out there!
St. Jude Summer
I'm looking forward to seeing some outstanding creations as the judge for the Cake/Cupcake Decorating Contest that will be a part of the Summer Celebration on June 22 at my church, St. Jude Catholic Church in Mifflintown.
Anyone can participate and there's no entry fee. I will judge the entries on originality, creativity and execution, but not taste-testing. That's because all of the entries will be auctioned off intact, since the contest is a part of the church's annual fundraiser that also includes an all-you-can-eat breakfast, a chicken barbecue, Hispanic food stands, children's games, a gas card raffle and a raffle of more than 30 themed gift baskets.
I will select a winner in the Children's Division (10 and under) and Adult Division. The prizes will be baskets overflowing with cake/cupcake decorating goodies, from icings, to sprinkles, cupcake liners, candy decors, candles, writing gels, as well as coupons for free items from Cakemate and Betty Crocker.
Homemade decorated cakes, cupcakes, cake pops or treat pops should be presented for entry on a non-returnable plate between 7 and 10:30 a.m. in the social hall at the church, located on William Penn Highway across the street from Tuscarora Junior High in Mifflintown.
Winners will be announced after the Basket Raffle, which will begin at 11 a.m. After the winners are announced, the entries will be auctioned.
The event is meant to be fun for the entire family, and I just can't wait. I plan to take some pictures to share on the food page after the event, so I hope to see some fun and clever designs!