Beautiful Cakes from the Austin Cake Competition: That Takes The Cake!

They say everything’s bigger in Texas.

The 9th annual Capital Confectioner’s show in Austin last weekend was certainly no exception: “That Takes the Cake” brought out big talent, big heart, and most importantly, big, beautiful cakes.

With three competitions—divisional, showcake, and tasting— and a trendy theme—“Cake” to the air! All clear for “cake” off!—, the convention center was buzzing with amazed visitors walking the floor.

Now, I’ve been to my share of cake shows. (This isn’t my first rodeo, folks!) But I have to say, the caliber of the competition in Austin was truly impressive.

Take this stunning and traditional tiered wedding cake complete with oriental stringwork and bridgeless extensions, created by teenager Tyler Gary.

Sugar Arts Show Cake by Tyler Gary

That’s right. He’s a teenager and well on his way to becoming one of the state’s premiere decorators.

Tyler also produced this innovative cake design, inspired by Indian textiles.

Sugar Arts Show Cake by Tyler Gary

He divided each tier in half, then painstakingly decorated the inside edges for added depth. The piped crosshatch borders are a thoughtful nod toward hand embroidery. Tyler clearly knows that when it comes to cake decorating, small details really count.

Speaking of needle arts, check out these adorable cupcakes from Heather Fox!

Needle Art Cake by Heather Fox

Sew craftsy! Heather definitely put her fondant extruder and quilting tool to good use. Although, my favorite confection entry (which covers essentially everything at the show that isn’t cake) came from Sachiko Windbiel.

Figurines Cake by Sachiko Windbiel

She hand modeled over eighty figurines for her adorable “Happy Bathday!” cupcakes. After the countless hours of work all the decorators and volunteers put in last weekend, they certainly deserve a nice soak!

When it comes to jaw dropping numbers, sculpted cakes are always a crowd favorite, and in this case, Austin was definitely not a disappointment. The winner of “Best of Showcakes Competition” was an amazingly lifelike sculpted bird by Kim Simon.

Bird Cake by Kim Simon

The level of detail Kim accomplished in the wood grain, for example, or the hand-painted feathers and intricate piping that bring together the cake base, are marks of a true master sugar artist.

The “Best of Divisional Competition” was also a sculpted cake and, boy, did decorator Natalie Elliott steal the show.

Willie Nelson Cake by Natalie Elliott

I guess if you’re going to carve a life-sized Willie Nelson head out of cake, Texas is the place to do it! From the texture of his beard, to the timeworn wrinkles on his face—not to mention the signature bandana—this cake took sugar art to a whole new level.

New and interesting cakes are what the Austin show is increasingly all about. In fact, Kimberly Chapman received the first annual “That Takes the Cake!” innovation award for her pioneering work with a new cake medium called gummy. Another innovator, professional decorator Melissa Bocanegra used delicate gelatin sequins to create a sophisticated and glamorous texture on her award winning tiered wedding cake.

Detailed Wedding Cake by Melissa Bocanegra

I’m sure I’m not alone in coming back with a head full of ideas, a belly full of cupcakes, and a heart full of enthusiasm for next year’s. Cake through the ages, here we come!

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