The Art of Competition

 
Cake decorators increase their exposure and bolster their skills by competing in cake decorating competitions. Competitions often bring out the best in team members with complementary skills.
 
Barbara Evans and Mary Jo Dowling exemplified this truism in winning the 17th Annual Pillsbury Bakers’ Plus Grand Champion Creative Decorating Competition, held April 8-9 during the Atlantic Bakery Expo at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
 
“I do the fiddly bits and cake carving. Barb is very neat, pristine, and her string work is incredible,” said Dowling, who runs Frosting & Crumbs cake studio in Pittsburgh.
 
In winning the competition, Evans, owner of The Wedding Cake Connection in Peoria, Illinois, and Dowling concentrated on their individual strengths. Evans designed a gorgeous rose gold wedding cake that featured textured layers, intricate stenciling and delicate string work.
 
Dowling sculpted a lifelike husky dog out of cake and icing with a mechanical wagging tail. Evans explained that contestants followed the scripted theme — a couple getting married at a botanical garden, and the groom being a hockey player with a dog named Puck.
 
“Eight hours goes incredibly fast,” Evans said. “We are honored to be in the place we’re in.”
 
On the second day, they collaborated on a colorful adult birthday cake featuring fondant ribbons and all shapes of decorations. “Pinterest and the food networks have totally changed the cake decorating world,” Dowling said. “Everyone expects a lot more, and nothing is off limits.”
 
The overall second-place prize went to Ashley Spitzer and Robbyn Yuen of Creative Cakes in Tinley Park, Illinois. The third-place team was Fiona Black and Dorey Williams of Sweet Nothings Fine Cakes and Desserts in Wyandotte, Michigan.
 
One of the baking industry’s most prestigious competitions for professional bakers, the 17th Annual Pillsbury Bakers’ Plus Grand Champion Creative Decorating Competition was hosted by General Mills Foodservice and the Retail Bakers of America.

Innovations in packaging
 
Packaging plays a significant role in the success of your cake business for at least two reasons: You need the right functional type of packaging for transporting your cakes to weddings and other events. And the look and presentation of your packaging should reflect the sophistication of your cake business.
 
Packaging is certainly gaining importance in our ever-mobile society. Lynn Dyer, president of the Foodservice Packaging Institute, says their research reveals how focused the industry is on the demands of increased e-commerce and delivery services. “As delivery options rapidly expand and evolve, so must the packaging,” Dyer says.
 
The Unger Co. offers a wide array of options of cake boxes, ranging from Color Boxes (in eight color options) and elegant Tulip Boxes, which come in eight choices of colors and fold conveniently at the top.
 
WPackaging offers premium packaging. These cake boxes come in a wide variety of sizes, heavyweight and the ideal height for your tallest creations.
 
With an eye on the future and a commitment to maintaining a role as a pioneer in innovative packaging technologies, Inline Plastics has announced completion of a total facility renovation to its new Innovation Center in Milford, Connecticut. “Our investment in building the Innovation Center showcases our commitment to excellence and continuous improvement to our product lines,” says Tom Orkisz, president of Inline Plastics.