Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

This task is a piece of cake

Judging dessert a delicious job

  • Print

They teach you a lot of important stuff in journalism school.

For example, you learn how to conduct yourself when reporting on explosive courtroom proceedings, how to maintain your professional integrity when interacting with political and business powerbrokers, not to mention the proper time and place to use the much-maligned semicolon.

But -- and brace yourself for a huge journalistic surprise -- they don't teach you anything about how to judge cake-decorating competitions. As hard as this is to believe, when it comes to cake, you are totally on your own.

Which is why I was forced to fall back on my natural instincts last week when the nice folks from the Seven Oaks General Hospital Foundation invited me to attend their swanky One Sweet Affair fundraising gala to help judge a showdown among the city's top pastry chefs to see who could create the most amazing cake.

I know what you are thinking here. You are thinking: "Doug, what qualifies you, an overweight, middle-aged newspaper columnist, to judge a high-level battle between the city's baking elite?"

Well, perhaps you will find it comforting to know I have had a longstanding love affair with cake. Ditto pies, cookies and most of your major dessert-related items, with the possible exception of flan.

I was supremely confident in my ability to handle this difficult assignment, but I was not quite as sure about the rest of the judging panel. So I confronted fellow judge Marcy Markusa from CBC's Information Radio and demanded she reveal her cake credentials.

Marcy confessed she has had a stormy and passionate romance with cake for many years. "In January, I broke up with cake on the air," she confided as we clutched our forks. "We have a tumultuous relationship. In my heart of hearts, cake is the love of my life, next to my husband, although cake is more tasty. If anything, I'm overqualified to judge cake."

The first thing we judges did was stand around and ogle the four cakes -- a giant caramel apple, a five-tiered tower covered in chocolate leaves, a birthday dress surrounded by presents, and a doll holding a box of cookies while perched on a rotating music-box-style base -- and make frowny faces to convey we were taking our jobs seriously.

To impress bystanders, we exchanged professional cake-judging remarks such as: "Look, here's a cake." Or: "OK, here's another cake." Then we had to sit down and force ourselves to consume slices of cake the size of Yorkshire terriers while dishing up even more incisive judging remarks, such as: "Yum!" And: "Could someone bring us a glass of milk because we have a lot of (bad word) cake to eat here?"

In the end, after arguing for several minutes behind a closed curtain, we courageously awarded the blue ribbon to the 50-pound caramel apple cake created by the amazing Pam Kirtpatrick from Cake-ology.

Pam told me her Halloween-inspired cake, which was later auctioned for about $700, took about 16 hours to decorate with scary skulls and creepy spiders. "It's been four years I've been entering this and it's the first year I've won," Pam chirped. "I'm super-excited and a little bit surprised."

When I pressed Pam to reveal the most popular cake in Winnipeg, she hesitated, then spilled the beans: "Red velvet cake with cream cheese icing. We've sold 26,000 red velvet cupcakes this year."

I hate to brag, but that's the kind of vital pastry fact that you, the consumer, have a right to know.

Fortunately for you, I am not afraid of asking the tough questions. It's not easy being a big-shot journalist, even when it's a piece of cake.

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 15, 2012 A6

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Rinelle Harper and family thank man who found her

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • A young goose gobbles up grass at Fort Whyte Alive Monday morning- Young goslings are starting to show the markings of a adult geese-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 20– June 11, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Would you visit Dalnavert Museum if it reopened?

View Results

Ads by Google