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My Baking Competition Debut

Updated on October 9, 2012
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Sam has been a foreign war soldier, a writer of books and articles, an illustrator and a graphic artist. He also reads and plays the piano.

I hadn't expanded my horizons yet

When I was a kid, about the only thing I ever did was draw pictures, until I got fairly good at it. At the age of 10 or 11, I was informed by a well-meaning member of my church that I was a creative person, or something to that effect. Maybe they suspected I was a good cook, too. At any rate, they thought that the artist in me would qualify me as a competent cake-baking contestant. They told me when the competition was, and strongly urged me to enter it. Notice that they said "cake-baking." They didn't say cake-decorating. So I walked away with "cake-baking" on the brain.

In those days, I seemed to place great importance or credibility in what people said about me (good or bad; my self-esteem was low). I therefore believed that I could bake a great cake, and accepted the challenge. I asked my mother for a recipe or box of cake makings. She was very cooperative, and before long, I was mixing the cake with the help of Betty Crocker.

Let me pause to tell you that we were a poor family, and I was the sixth of about nine children. My awareness of the world was quite limited, and I had no idea what protocol was in any area, or how others lived. In addition, we hardly ever had anything new. So I baked the cake in "the" cake pan. That's the way it was always done, right? That's how my mom did it!

After the cake was done cooking, and after it cooled, I immediately proceeded to put the frosting on it. With artful and pretty swirls, I slapped it on. There. It was done.

Another pause: Before I go on, I should probably make it clear and reiterate that at this point, I never remember going to or seeing a cake-baking contest before, and that no further information was giving me over this particular contest.

After I frosted the cake, I cleaned up and made ready to leave for the church house. Someone graciously agreed to take me over there, as I carried the flat cake in "the" cake pan -- the battered, blackened, well-used cake pan.

When I walked into the exhibition hall, I saw . . . . a miniature Disneyland over in the corner, where the other cakes were waiting to be judged. Cakes were sculptured, some with towers, others with bridges which spanned the various components. Beautiful colors of coconut, flowers, sprinkles, and sundry decorations covered the cakes. No cake was in a pan, and beautiful curtains or drapery made of frosting covered the sides, tied together with frosting sashes or other clever devices. You could almost hear the music: "When you wish upon a star . . . "

I looked at my own cake, and heard nothing. It stared blankly back at me.

There's something to be said about hope in a child. Maybe I thought I would get some kind of honorable mention for the attempt, or something for simplicity. But in short, I proceeded. I don't remember why I did, but I proceeded.

I think everyone ate something first, but I'm not sure. I believe there were too many other things on my mind to try to remember what was going on then. But when it came time to judge the cakes, I sat expectantly as the judges marked their papers for "design" or "creativity." I think I blocked out their reaction when they came to my cake, because I don't remember it.

Soon, a decision was made, and next came the tasting part of the contest. I grinned slightly, and thought, "Ah! maybe something will happen here; taste buds don't care about looks."

When they finally came to my cake, and cut it open . . . . . . to taste it, I could see that it was . . . . . . still raw in the middle.

This was my first and last baking competition, and I don't believe I ever attempted another cake. To this day, cookies are my favorite.

Professional Cakes:

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