As a cake judge at the county youth fair, I refuse to judge cakes made by my students, family members, or even friends of the family. I always taste them, but I never judge them. As a judge, I’m sure that I could be objective. I was trained by well respected judges and having judged for so long (17 years), I can differentiate good from bad, pinpoint problems, and offer solutions/suggestions. However, it’s not right for me to judge their cakes.
This year’s fair was no different. I tasted, but refused to judge my son’s cake and two cakes baked by the daughters (Harley & Sarah) of good friends. Interestingly, of the 60 or so cakes that were entered, we had the job of selecting the best 10 cakes, which would be auctioned the next day. Of the 10 cakes, three belonged to our small town–my son, Ean’s cake, Sarah’s cake, and Harley’s cake.
Sarah, who is the same age as Ean (12), is the oldest daughter of our good friends, Jason & Annette. After Ean’s cakes won top 10 placing and were auctioned for big bucks, Sarah decided that she wanted to get in on the action. So, her mom found Aunt Martha’s carrot cake recipe and Sarah started practicing. She perfected the cake, but her decorating needed some work, so the morning that the cakes were due, Sarah & I had an impromptu cake decorating class. As with most kids, holding their hands steady enough to get a completely smooth layer of frosting is nearly impossible, so I taught her to hide the imperfections with chopped pecans, and since she wanted “fancy” decorations on the top, I gave her a piping bag of frosting and taught her to make fun, little rosettes. In the end, her cake was as beautiful as it tasted. I don’t like carrot cake, but I like this one.
As usual, I didn’t judge Sarah’s cake and none of the other judges even knew that she was “related” to me, so I got to listen in on their conversations about her cake. One of the judges said that it was the best carrot cake she’d ever eaten. The other judges agreed, and her cake was moved on to be considered for auction. By the end of the night, Sarah’s cake remained on the auction table as the only carrot cake going to auction the next day.
In our county fair, the kids stand front & center in the livestock arena while the auctioneer, coaxes the audience to bid as high as possible, and the kids then deliver the cake to the winning bidder. This year, Sarah delivered her cake to a local car dealership buyer who paid an astonishing $600 for her carrot cake. I’m betting Aunt Martha was proud!
Sarah & Aunt Martha’s Award Winning Carrot Cake
2 c self rising flour
2 c sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground clove
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/4 c. vegetable oil
4 large eggs
3 c. finely shredded carrots
In a mixer, combine dry ingredients. Add oil, eggs, and carrots. Mix until completely incorporated. Pour into 3 sprayed 9″ cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely before frosting.
8 oz cream cheese-softened
1 stick butter-softened
1 lb. powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
Beat all ingredients together until smooth. Frost cake.
Decorate sides & top with 1 c chopped pecans.
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