Sweet treats: Lehighton bakery offers Children’s Cake Wars
It was a sweet blend of sugar and icing, paired with the imagination of children that made Blended Bakery’s first Children’s Cake Wars a success.
The Lehighton bakery hosted the new challenge after owner Christina Yurasits got the idea from the show “Cake Wars.”
In the show, contestants have a set amount of time to bake and decorate their cakes before presenting them to the judges for taste testing. In every episode, there is a surprise twist: a challenging task in the midst of baking.
So Yurasits set up the event the same way and invited Julie Rambo, manager of Bonnie & Clyde’s; Lehighton Borough Manager Nicole Beckett; and 6-year-old Luke Searfoss, a Blended Bakery regular and self-proclaimed “Cake Wars” expert to be the guest judges.
“I feel like there’s nothing around here for kids anymore,” said Rambo, before thanking Yurasits for inviting her to be a guest judge.
The event was for any child age 10 and up. Four children, ages 11 through 14, participated.
Yurasits had the cakes pre-baked for the participants to let them focus on decorating rather than baking.
She began with any rules and instructions: three questions each, 90 minutes total, a surprise activity to be announced. She walked them through the kitchen, made sure they knew where all of the tools and toppings were, calmed any nerves and set them on their way.
To help any remaining nerves, Searfoss told the contestants that he felt nervous to be a judge but he felt better once he met the other judges.
After getting a smile from the girls, they began working next to their teammate to create their own cake.
“They’re working to build their own cake but they can help each other,” said Yurasits. “I want them to see that it’s always beneficial to ask for help.”
Teammates and best friends Anna Graver and Ella Miller purposely developed contrasting decorating styles: Anna, 12, of Tamaqua, chose a theme of galaxy night while Ella, 14, of Lehighton, chose sunshine day.
“I’m doing a rainbow theme,” said contestant Caitlyn Diedel, 11, of Lehighton. “I put M&Ms inside.”
Caitlyn’s friend Autumn Clewell, 12, of Lehighton, ended up making a Valentine’s Day themed cake. She dedicated the cake to her mother, Danielle Zastko, whose wedding anniversary fell on Valentine’s Day.
Around halfway through the challenge, Yurasits had the girls design their own fondant. The participants all used fondant in the past, which surprised Beckett, who never had it.
Yurasits asked the girls who was having fun, and all of them stopped to raise their hands and smile.
Caitlyn explained her green fondant was grass for her rainbow cake, and Autumn made red and pink hearts for her cake, while Ella used a ball of fondant as a sun for the top of her sunshine cake.
When it was time to present the cakes to the judges, Anna explained that she used her fondant to make galaxy colored stars for her night-themed cake.
“I miss the summer and I don’t like all of this cold weather, so I made a summer cake,” Caitlyn said.
After the presentations and careful deliberation among all three judges, Anna was named “Most Creative Use of Candy” partly due to the creative use of the fondant on her cake.
Autumn won the title of “Buttercream Master” while Caitlyn won “Best in Flavor” and Ella won “Super Style.”
At the end, the girls boxed up their cakes to take home and were given awards to match their new titles. They also each received a bakery T-shirt, candy, gift card and baking tools for their future in baking.
“I can’t wait until (my sister) is old enough to do this,” said Anna. “She would love this.”