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Cake decorators of all levels compete in MU contest

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 | 8:11 p.m. CDT; updated 8:45 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Edith Hall's cake, Truman the Tiger in his graduation cap, is featured as one of the professional cakes at the Mizzou Cake Challenge on March 16 at the MU Student Center.

COLUMBIA — After spending 13 hours straight in the kitchen for an all-nighter, Edith Hall needed a nap.

Hall spent about 100 hours of the past week baking and decorating a cake for the Mizzou Cake Challenge on Wednesday. She decorated from 4 p.m. Tuesday to 5 a.m. Wednesday to finish in time. The final product was a nearly 2- by 1 1/2-foot cake of Truman the Tiger lying on his side on AstroTurf, surrounded by spring flowers.

The Truman cake was one of 55 entries in the decorating contest at MU. The challenge, hosted by the university’s Department of Student Activities, was created to coincide with a visit from Duff Goldman, cake decorator and Food Network personality.

The competing cakes, all with "A Mizzou Spring" theme, were on display in the MU Student Center on Wednesday afternoon and were divided into amateur and professional categories.

Hall's 29 years of baking and decorating experience placed her in the professional category. Hall opened Cakes With the Personal Touch by Edith Hall in 1984 in Hallsville, and has primarily decorated wedding cakes ever since.

Hall’s experience goes beyond her business, though. Last April, she appeared on TLC’s Ultimate Cake Off show as a team member for another decorator she met at a conference. She made all the sugar flowers for the cake that won the contest.

Hall said she was surprised to see the level of skill for the amateur entries in the contest.

“I’m impressed by the amateur cakes,” Hall said. “There are some really good cakes down there.”

One such amateur was Samantha Korenfeld, an MU student pursuing a master's degree in theater.

Korenfeld said she started baking just last summer, but her skills in fashion design overlap a little with cake decorating. She made costumes for several theater productions while completing her undergraduate degrees in theater and French at Indiana University.

“Piecing together fabric is a lot like piecing together fondant,” Korenfeld said.

Korenfeld’s design was a two-tiered cake featuring students relaxing in the sun by the MU Columns — two people were sitting on a blanket with their dog, a girl lay down studying, a boy strummed his guitar, and two MU graduates celebrated in their graduation robes.

Junior graphic design major Kayla Humphrey also incorporated the columns into her cake.They st0od on the top tier of her cake in a semi-circle around the dome of Jesse Hall. The layer directly under that was circular, decorated with black and gold tiger stripes, and the bottom tier was a solid green square with vines and flowers growing up the sides.

Humphrey said the cake was probably the third she had made in her life.

"I've always been really interested in cake shows and cake decorating," Humphrey said. "I wanted to see how it went."

Humphrey's friend Sara Crocks, a junior biology and psychology major, helped her. They started baking Tuesday night, and it took them about six hours to finish.

"We're probably the only people that waited until the day before to do it," Humphrey said.

Three area chefs judged the cakes Wednesday morning, rating their top five choices for the amateur and professional categories. Goldman judged the local chefs' picks at about 6 p.m., and the top three in each category were announced at an awards ceremony in Jesse Hall after Goldman's speech at 7:30 p.m.

Those who walked through the display of cakes Wednesday afternoon were able to text in a vote for their favorite creation. The votes were tallied to determine a people's choice award, also to be given at the awards ceremony.

Hall said she was eager for the ceremony and to see if Goldman picked her cake.

"I'd like to be up there," Hall said, "but we'll see what happens. It's always nice to win."

Two pieces of icing shaped like students play Humans vs. Zombies on a cake at the Mizzou Cake Challenge on March 16 on the lower level of the MU Student Center. The cakes featured were created by both professionals and amateurs.
Paula Schlager points out a cake at the Mizzou Cake Challenge on March 16 at the MU Student Center. The theme of the competition is spring at Mizzou.
One of the cakes at the Mizzou Cake Challenge falls apart on March 16, on the lower level of the MU Student Center.

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