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It's a Rocket, It's a Hot Air Balloon, It's a ... Decorated Show Cake?

Cake decorators and sugar artists from around the country converge on Austin to compete and learn

By Virginia B. Wood, Fri., Feb. 22, 2013

It's a Rocket, It's a Hot Air Balloon, It's a ... Decorated Show Cake?

2013 That Takes the Cake! Sugar Art Show & Competition

North Austin Events Center, 10601 N. Lamar
Feb. 23-24: Saturday, 10:30am-6pm; Sunday, 9am-5pm

Austin's busy Capital Confectioners Club hosts their ninth annual cake and sugar art show this weekend based on the theme Cake to the Air – All Clear for Cake-Off, so expect to see elaborately sculpted and decorated renditions of spaceships, airplanes, butterflies, birds, and balloons. The Austin show is one of the largest and most prestigious in the country, attracting both top flight judges and competitors. In fact, many of the same renowned cake artists you've seen judging and competing on Food Network's Last Cake Standing are in Austin for the show and will be presenting pricey, sold-out master classes both before and after their judging duties.

The competition breaks down into three basic categories:

• show cakes: big, sculpted, architectural works;

• divisional cakes: open to all ages and skill levels and further divided into style categories such as novelty cakes or wedding cakes; and

• tasting: this year's categories will be angel food cakes, moon pies, mini-bottle cakes, cookies, and candies. (Kate Thornberry and I will be among the tasting judges again this year. We're just hoping for no more blue cheese, bacon, and chocolate concoctions.)

"Last year, we had 32 showcakes and about 400 divisional entries, which makes us one of the largest cake shows in the country," reports show director Jennifer Bartos, owner of Make It Sweet. Internationally respected sugar artist Nicholas Lodge will be the head judge and guest instructor again this year. "I've always been impressed with the overall level of workmanship in the competition at That Takes the Cake," says Lodge.

Serious competitors admit one of the main attractions of this show is the opportunity to take master classes from visiting experts, and there are also daily demonstrations and classes designed for all skill levels, covering all aspects of decorating from business management to buttercream icing. It's a family-friendly event (there will be plenty of strollers) offering free admission to kids under 18, including competitors. Preregistration for entrants is closed, but general admission lets you view all the competing entries, as well as the live cake decorating competitions, and access the specialty vendor area and the hands-on demo area. For a complete schedule, go to www.thattakesthecake.org. Buy tickets at the door; $10 per day or $18 for a weekend pass.

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