• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
chefette

Wedding Cake Competition In Portugal

7 posts in this topic

At the Hor Expo 2004 in Lisboa last week Inter Magazine sponsored a Wedding Cake Competition. Steve and I were invited to serve on the International judging panel.

i5989.jpg

There were just a few short of 50 cakes on display and here are some of the better ones

The winning cake - Very thin cake with a poured sugar support, blown sugar balls, pulled sugar flowers and ribbons and some molded work on the top. Very nice work. The pink and slight olive green colors are a bit off due to the strong yellow hue of the lighting.

i5981.jpg

some details

i5982.jpg

i5983.jpg

The second place cake

work is uneven i5986.jpg

And third place

i5987.jpg

Here are some of my favorites

Very sleek and modern - interesting styling

i5977.jpg

Maybe not the best wedding cake in the world but I thought the chocolate swirlys were fun

i5978.jpg

This was very eye catching and sort of lunar - I think of it as a moonstone cake

i5979.jpg

This cake was very nicely done and the figures on top were very compelling

i5980.jpg

This cake was actually very nice work - covered in marzipane it included a spotlight embedded in the lower tier that was plugged in at first but as it heated up it melted the frosting around it and shorted out

i5976.jpg

and here are the judges

i5997.jpg

Overall it was a very interesting experience especially since we also judged taste

I will post more later

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know I have a hard time with your first place winner. Not that it's not the best technically and artisticly but to me it seems like something I'd see in a sugar competition verses at a real wedding or even a wedding cake show. I try to follow the cake scene.........and usually theres a more consistant style in the shows I've seen highlights of, where as this show everyone seems to be on a different page.

The chocolate cake with the swirls, this style is published all over the place!

Do they have any organized local cake clubs like ICES? I wonder what the typical wedding cake there looks like? Is it like the wilton stuff we see out of our typically high volume low cost bakeries here in the US?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a judge, Wendy, you have to react to what you see. But, let me ask you: "usually there's a more consistent style in the shows I've seen highlights of" and that is a good thing? And "where as this show everyone seems to be on a different page" is a bad thing? Not from my perspective. You had restaurant and hotel pastry chefs going head to head with "cake decorators" here and I was prepared to accept anyone's artistic concept and technical skill and taste on its own terms. In fact, on my scorecard for visual and technique I think I scored that yellow rectangular cake with the two flat cutout/runout bride and groom figures second after the sugar piece--because what you can't see well in the picture is the extremely well done filagree, fine piping and embroidery on the surface. It's not as glamorous as a big tall French-style sugar piece but it was the best fine piping, the best cornet work of the event--in fact, it was the only cake to have excellent fine piping. There was also a tiered cake done in a very traditional Italian style (not pictured)--a la the showpiece book by Luigi Biasetto and Iginio Massari--styrofoam columns covered with royal and sprayed--which Colleen and I both scored very well and which also stood apart from the pack. Turns out it was done by the very Italian pastry chef of the hotel we stayed at in Lisbon, the Lapa Palace, which has an excellent Italian chef and restaurant. It had a nice mix of chocolate and sugar work--which isn't easy to do--a pair of blown sugar swans in a nice pastillage cart--and we both had it second or third overall on our cards.

The work, overall, could have been cleaner, the taste, overall, could have been more varied, but I found the diversity refreshing. You definitely can find more technically superior work here and abroad--but also more sameness and just as much mediocrity as well. You had the same typical cake mix low cost Wilton commercial crap in this event as well.


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It looked to me that the participating pastry chefs were not on the same skill level that I have seen in the wedding cakes on display in NYC at the annual Salon Culinaire in November. Overall my critisims were:

1- flawed fondant covering - while the fondant or marzipan or whatever covering was being used seemed to be rolled quite thin frequently there were finger indents, holes, etc and many time the fondant was not thick enough to be opaque

2- Use of synthetic decor: plastic, ceramic ornaments, Silk, or other fake flowers, cloth ribbon, straw, actual rocks, actual sea shells as primary decoration

3- Use of purchased pastry flowers, birds or other ornaments

4- Insufficient use of chocolate, fondant, gum paste, pastillage, sugar decor to demonstrate technical and artistic skills

5- very little royal icing work

6- very uneven work on many cakes where you would see one element done well but others poorly executed

7- artistry and presentation seemed sub wilton overall

8- bad use of scale (a competitor might make a carriage of pastillage and place a tiny plastic bride and groom inside - but they were not in proper proportion to the carriage

In terms of tasting the cakes I had expected some difficulties based on acclimation and taste/texture predispositions. While I did not find most of the cakes enjoyable to taste I noted that the local judges were much harsher critics in this area. Most of the cakes were almost identical - sort of coarse or light sponge non descript moist, yellow sort of lemony or nutty. Almost no chocolate at all. The Portuguese judges felt that many of the chefs had used mixes.

Sinclair your critisism of the winning cake is interesting in several ways - should you evaluate wedding cakes by how they fit within a standard or category of wedding cakes? or do you just judge them based on technical excellence, artistry, originality? Does it matter that they are showpiece esque? Isn't a wedding cake a good place to do the type of higher pastry art that you so rarely get to do?

My biggest problem with the winning cake is that the cake was glazed with neutral glaze but it was quite badly done - glaze was running off, globbed up in areas - very unattractive

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, typically you both make good points! O.k. I do need to back track,-diversity is good, very important, style doesn't need to be consistant. But workmanship does need to be consistant! Consistancy in the over all quality of the competitors or break them down into catagories.

I really like the fact that Jacquey P. is participating in cake shows and teaching to that audience. He's always had a couple decorators teaching courses at his school.....but it's cool that he takes himself to their world too.

Wedding cakes don't have to look traditional, definately not! Every bride is different and yes, a show piece type cake like your winner does have a place.......o.k. so maybe their breaking new ground, I'll embrace that. For some reason I'm still left wanting a black and white mentality to judging all culinary competitions. Maybe it's there and I just don't get it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Taking this full circle, Wendy, now you see some of what I've been saying on other threads about French-influenced competitions, about media like Pastry Art & Design, etc. It isn't a problem that anyone chooses to work in a certain style or influence or promote a certain style or inlfuence at the expense of any other--that is their right. It's also our right to point that out.

Everyone gains when we try to see things for what they are, to revel in their diversity: rediscovering traditions long forgotten and approaching new or different things--all with an open mind. Taste is subjective, and is perhaps the biggest hinderance for these European judges, especially the French-leaning ones, coming here to the States--but in terms of say a technical assessment of the work, well that's actually quite easy--if you know the best examples of a media or skill and/or are capable of executing them yourself. Assessing artistry/creativity and originality is another area where as a judge--you have to fight your natural instinct and bias to a certain extent. It isn't inherently or necessarily more artistic/creative/innovative to do a tall, sweeping curvilinear French sugar showpiece. That attempt still has to be assessed on its terms and on what it presents just like an ACF-style low, flat, air-brushed pastillage scene, perhaps with "hokey" colorful balloons, kids toys and clown faces--even though the latter breaks ALL the supposed French rules for showpieces. That's part of the judge's responsibility, to see past personal bias.

The take home point, I guess, as a judge or critic or customer is new/French/Spanish/traditional/American--whatever--isn't necessarily better or inherently better--they're just labels. And you can do good work within a label and you can do good work which transcends label. It all depends how moved, motivated and talented you are--and who your audience is.

The Portuguese do have to pick up the level of their skills in terms of what we might term the more serious international standard of pastrywork--but for them, I think, it is merely a matter of exposure, exposure they haven't had yet, and of wanting to improve and to push themselves. (The traditional pastry thing--what might be termed "patisserie de main" in French--they have down, with a rich full tradition of interesting delicious specialties, innovative doughs, creams and regional variations which we know nothing about.)

And, by the way, cake decorators have a lot to teach pastry chefs, too. Even French ones. The smart pastry chefs have been learning and absorbing from the "cake decorators" for a long time, 15-20 years at least.


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All good points, I can't disagree.

As far as the cake decorators and my comment about Jacquey....theres been heated discussion between different "groups" (online at other sites) as we in the baking industry seem to be divided into. Like it or not. My point is- I appreciate that Jacquey stands out as a bridge between "groups". There shouldn't be any groups at all and it's important to keep building bridges and networking together.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Similar Content

    • By Panaderia Canadiense
      Hi all! I'm trying to perfect my lemon bar recipe, which is from my grandmother's Purity cookbook with all sorts of notations and changes she made. It's perfect in terms of flavour and the pâté sucree base works exactly as it should, but the topping is coming out too fluid.
       
      The topping is 3C sugar, 1/4C lemon juice, the zest off of those lemons, 1tsp baking powder, 6 eggs and 2C coconut.
       
      What can I do to firm it up a bit, so that it stays put once I cut the bars? Would cornstarch or tapioca flour do it?
       

    • By Daily Gullet Staff
      by David Ross

      I was pushing my shopping cart through the aisles of Yoke’s Supermarket on a recent “Fresh Friday,” when a spritely-sounding young woman announced over the public address system, “Attention shoppers, attention shoppers, two minutes until the next Cakewalk, two minutes.” Frozen with suspense and the anticipation of winning one of Yoke’s chocolate crème de menthe cakes, I stood pat on the number 36 yellow flower pasted on the floor in front of me. I wasn’t going to budge off that number 36 -- I wanted a cake. While I waited to hear my number called, I was overcome with a sense of nervous anxiety --the same emotion I had felt as a young boy waiting to win a cake when I was seven years old. I wondered why a boyhood fascination with winning a cake still left me with such a deep, lasting hunger some 47 years after I first danced a Cakewalk.

      What was it that tugged at my heart, telling me to delve deeper into the meaning of the Cakewalk? Why did I sense that there was an underlying truth I hadn’t discovered as a child? The only way I could unveil the mystique behind my relationship with this odd little dance to win a cake would lie in retracing the footsteps of my childhood, setting forth on a quest to discover the history of the Cakewalk.

      + + +
      We moved to Salem, Oregon from The Dalles, in the Summer of 1964, when my Father, Edgar Ross, accepted a position at the Oregon Department of Agriculture in the Commodity Commissions Bureau. My parents settled on a ranch-style, three-bedroom home on the corner of Ward Drive and 46th Avenue in the new community of “Jan Ree” Gardens. Our lot was bordered by new homes on two sides and to the East was a field of Blue Lake bush beans that would soon be consumed by the encroaching development. Mother and Father shared a few details about our new home. It had a second bathroom, a wood-paneled living room and an unfinished family room that my father promised would have a metal wood stove. But they kept one little secret from my sister and me until we were a block from our final destination on the day we drove to Salem -- our new house was next door to the grade school. I didn’t know whether to feel good or sick at the thought of living next door to the school where I would spend the next five years.

      Hayesville Elementary School was typical of the architecture of grade schools built in the early 1960’s-an L-shaped, non-descript building painted in drab green and grey. The assembly room, cafeteria and administrative offices anchored the building with the classrooms jutting out from the principal’s office. I started the school year in Mrs. Rhonda Sample’s second grade class. She was young, blond and attractive, totally unlike the spinster vision I had of the teacher that awaited me at my new school. The highlight of the school year was the annual “Open House at Hayesville.” Students showcased their talents, dazzling parents with displays of frogs and snakes in aquariums, samples of cursive writing on paper chains hung over the blackboard and paper mache busts of historic American figures like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Mothers and fathers could take a tour of the gleaming, stainless steel kitchen where Mrs. Fox prepared our hot lunches each day-warm, billowing cinnamon rolls dripping with powdered sugar frosting and her buttery, oven-fried chicken. But the most anticipated event of Open House at Hayesville was the annual Cakewalk Raffle -- a silly fun dance around the classroom. The winner won a cake and the proceeds went to fund other activities at school.

      We cut footprints out of colored construction paper and pasted them in a large circle on the spotless, pink vinyl-tiled floor. Each “foot” was given a number from one to twenty. Red, white and blue streamers were tacked on the outer walls and then brought to the center of the ceiling to define the center point of the cakewalk circle. When the room was ready, Mrs. Sample turned on the lights and opened the door, welcoming a parade of Mother’s who pranced into the room carrying Tupperware cake caddies, Pyrex baking dishes, glass cake domes and disposable aluminum trays coddling their precious cake creations.

      Three long tables were placed against the wall and covered with proper linen tablecloths. The tables served as the stage upon which the cakes would strut their stuff. The chorus line of cakes went on and on through the annals of cakedom-Chiffon, Angel Food, Devils Food, Sponge Cake, Pound Cake, Marble Cakes, Chocolate Torts and Jelly Rolls. There were cakes garnished with coconut, dusted with nonpareils, frosted with peanut butter, sprinkled with peppermints, and dotted with spiced gum drops. I entered the Cakewalk over and over until I won, seemingly always at the end of the evening when very few of the best cakes were left on the table. While Mother’s “Burnt Sugar Cake with 7-Minute Frosting” was good, it would be a total embarrassment in front of ones classmates for a kid to choose the cake made by his mother. No, should I win the Cakewalk and should it still be available, I would choose the Spiced Praline Crunch Cake made by Bernie Bennett’s Mother.

      The historical importance of the Cakewalk wasn’t a part of Mrs. Sample’s second-grade curriculum at Hayesville in 1964. Living in the Pacific Northwest, we were insulated from the racial struggles of the South at that time. I was a young white boy in a middle-class American family. I led the colorful life of a kid, yet I lived in a country that saw only shades of black and white.

      Only three years before my second grade, in the Spring of 1961 the Freedom Riders set out on a campaign to test the Supreme Court Ruling that upheld the segregation of blacks and whites at bus depots, waiting rooms, lunch counters and restrooms throughout the South. The Freedom Riders were met with ignorance and violence. African-Americans couldn’t drink from the same water fountain I drank from. I never knew.
      + + + The Cakewalk played an important role in the history of America -- a long-forgotten chapter that tells the story of the struggles forced upon the enslaved, who in spite of their burdens rose above the oppression of race and found a new form of the expression of freedom.

      The seeds of the Cakewalk were sown in the segregated deep South sometime around 1850, as a parody of the way plantation owners escorted their ladies into a formal ball. The women wore long, ruffled dresses of silk and glass beads with long, white gloves that reached above the elbow. The gentlemen were outfitted with top hats and tail coats. Couples pranced and paraded into lavishly decorated ballrooms, arm-in-arm in high-stepping fashion, marching into the center of the party, often to the music played by a banjo-strumming fiddler who worked in the fields.

      The winner of the dance contest sometimes won a cake presented by the master of the house, leading many to think this is where the name the “Cakewalk” comes from.

      African-American slaves who watched the proceedings took the dance on as their own in the yards outside their shacks, mocking what they saw as the frivolous customs of the plantation owners. According to the oral histories of slaves and their descendants, the Cakewalk was a marriage of traditional African tribal dances and rhythms combined with the dance steps of the upper classes. When the land barons and ladies saw the slaves dance, they missed the satirical element entirely, but the popularity of the Cakewalk had been established among the elite and it now transcended the boundaries of class.

      Wealthy farmers went on to sponsor competitions between plantations and the dance moved to large cities in the South and then to the East where it became a staple of traveling minstrel shows and ultimately to Vaudeville, the lights of Broadway and throughout Europe.

      On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation with these humble words, “all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” Inspired by the renewed freedom gifted to them through Emancipation, a freedom that allowed them to express themselves openly through dance and music, African-Americans led a creative revival that would usher in new forms of dance and music that had never before been seen or heard. The artistic contributions of former slaves and their descendants would forever change the creative landscape in America.


      From this humble beginning in the sweltering, humid heat and back-breaking work of picking cotton, African-American artists penned the notes of a new from of music called ragtime that would eventually evolve into jazz. It was the Cakewalk, unintentionally and ironically, that crossed the bounds of race and class status as it burst into the popular consciousness of America By the 1890’s, African-American actors, dancers and musicians had started forming their own production companies and staged versions of the Cakewalk became all the rage.

      Scott Joplin, (1867-1917), was an early musical pioneer of the Cakewalk style of music. Known as the “King of Ragtime,” Joplin wrote and performed in the style of rag—a combination of dance and marching music entwined with the “ragged” rhythms and soul of African music. One of Joplin’s most famous pieces was “The Ragtime Dance,” (published in 1902), that included a Cakewalk:

      “Turn left and do the “Cakewalk Prance, Turn the other way and do the “Slow drag, Now take your lady to the World’s Fair and do the ragtime dance. Cakewalk soft and sweetly, be sure your steps done neatly.”

      The vaudeville team of Mr. Egbert Williams and Mr. George Walker were two of the first African-Americans to take their musical show on the road in a grand scale. Crowds packed into The New York theatre in 1903 for 53 stunning performances of song and Cakewalk dances in William’s and Walker’s new production “In Dahomey” -- the first all-black musical to be performed on a grand scale in a major Broadway venue. After its raging success in America, “In Dahomey” crossed the Atlantic, performing for seven months of standing-room-only audiences at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London before returning to New York.

      By the turn of the century, Americans were moving off farms and into towns and cities in record numbers. Ragtime music transformed into a new genre called “Jazz,” with emerging talents like Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington playing at the Cotton Club in New York.

      By 1930, the public fascination with dance theatre began to fade as America was lured by the intrigue of other forms of entertainment like talking motion pictures. But the early concepts and the heritage established by the Cakewalk endured throughout the twentieth century and into the 21st, namely, as a contest to raise money at church socials and school functions. The Cakewalk also delivered new words into the American vocabulary-“take the cake,” and “it’s a real cakewalk,” are terms used to refer to something that is “the best,” or a job easily done. Cakewalk software is a cutting-edge firm today that produces award-winning digital audio and recording software to the music industry.

      + + +
      I’m nearing my 54th birthday in November, some 46 years removed from my second-grade class. I had been lost until that Cakewalk at Yoke’s, yet now I’m found. I’ve learned a lesson in respect through the Cakewalk -- a lesson that taught me how emancipation allowed the enslaved to express themselves through music and dance. A lesson that freedom is an unalienable right bestowed upon all Americans. I’ve gained a deep appreciation for the place that this little ditty we call the Cakewalk plays in the history of America, opening our eyes to a world that was color blind.

      I found my personal truth in the Cakewalk -- a truth far richer and deeper than the dreams of a boy winning a cake.

      * * *
      David Ross lives in Spokane, but works a one-hour plane ride away. When he's not tending to his day job -- or commuting -- he writes about food and reviews restaurants. He is on the eGullet Society hosting team.
    • By JohnT
      I have been asked to make Chinese Bow Tie desserts for a function. However, I have never made them, but using Mr Google, there are a number of different recipes out there. Does anybody have a decent recipe which is tried and tested? - these are for deep-fried pastry which are then soaked in sugar syrup.
    • By shain
      Makes 40 cookies, 2 loaves. 
       
      50-60 g very aromatic olive oil
      80 g honey 
      120 to 150 g sugar (I use 120 because I like it only gently sweet) 
      2 eggs
      2 teaspoons of fine lemon zest, from apx 1 lemon 
      230 g flour 
      1 teaspoon salt 
      1 teaspoon baking powder 
      75 g lightly toasted peeled pistachios
      50 g lightly toasted almonds (you can replace some with pine nuts) 
      Optional: a little rosemary or anise seed
      Optional: more olive oil for brushing
       
      Heat oven to 170 deg C.
      In mixer (or by hand), mix oil, honey, sugar, lemon, egg and if desired, the optional spices - until uniform. 
      Separately mix together the flour, salt and baking powder. 
      Add flour mixture to mixer bowel with liquids and fold until uniform. Dough will be sticky and quite stiff. Don't knead or over mix. 
      Add nuts and fold until well dispersed. 
      On a parchment lined baking tray, create two even loaves of dough. 
      With moist hands, shape each to be rectangular and somewhat flat - apx 2cm heigh, 6cm wide and 25cm long. 
      Bake 25 to 30 minutes until golden and baked throughout, yet somewhat soft and sliceable. Rotate pan if needed for even baking. 
      Remove from tray and let chill slightly or completely. 
      Using a sharp serrated knife, gently slice to thin 1/2 cm thick cookies. Each loaf should yield 20 slices. 
      Lay slices on tray and bake for 10 minutes. Flip and bake for another 10-15 minutes until complelty dry and lightly golden. 
      Brush with extra olive oil, if desired. This will and more olive flavor. 
      Let chill completely before removing from tray. 
      Cookies keep well in a closed container and are best served with desert wines or herbal tea. 
       
        
    • By Tennessee Cowboy
      I'd like help from anyone on making the best Pistachio Ice cream.  This forum is a continuation of a conversation I started in my "introduction" post, which you can see at 
      I recently made Pistachio ice cream using the Jeni's Ice Cream Cookbook.  I love Pistachio ice cream, so I've launched an experiment to find the best recipe.  I am going to try two basic approaches:  The Modernist Cookbook gelato, which uses no cream at all, and ice cream; I'm also experimenting with two brands of pistachio paste and starting with pistachios and no paste.  Lisa Shock and other People who commented on the earlier thread said that the key is to start with the best Pistachio Paste.    
      Any advice is appreciated.  Here is where I am now:  I purchased a brand of pistachio paste through nuts.com named "Love 'n Bake."  When it arrived, it was 1/2 pistachios and 1/2 sugar and olive oil.   I purchased a second batch through Amazon from FiddleyFarms; it is 100% pistachios.  I bought raw pistachios through nuts.com.  The only raw ones were from California.  If anyone has advice on using the MC recipe or on best approaches to ice cream with this ingredient I'd appreciate them.  I will report progress on my experiment in this forum.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.