Before cupcakes, whoopie pies and French macarons became “it” desserts on TV cooking shows, in food magazines and across the blogosphere, there was plain old cake — and we liked it.
The classic dessert is put on a pedestal beginning Friday, when the Celebration of Cakes kicks off at SanTan Village in Gilbert. The three-day affair will feature up to 180 cakes displayed throughout the shopping center for visitors to vote on, and three master cake artists will build large, sculptural cakes before an audience.
“It’s celebrating everything cake is,” says SanTan Village spokeswoman Jennifer Olson. “Cake is such a staple of everyone’s life, whether it’s birthdays or anniversary or graduation parties or someone leaving the office. We all eat cake at some point in our lives.”
The live cake challenge will mimic popular cake-off style TV shows on TLC and The Food Network, with bakers creating cakes at least 4 feet wide and 5 feet tall, with one moving element.
Cathy Monoscalco, a third-generation baker and owner of Caketini, the SanTan Village bakery sponsoring the Celebration of Cakes, says people will get to watch as cake artists pull off many of the same over-the-top techniques seen on TV.
But, she says, home bakers who rely on boxed cake mixes shouldn’t be intimidated. They’ll find $5 educational workshops on everything from basic cake-making to creating cute characters from fondant.
“People can go in and learn different techniques. For instance, they’ve got a session on how to make cake pops, which are like lollipops but with cake. We’ve got experienced cake artists teaching you things you can pick up and start doing at home with your very next cake,” says Olson.
There’s also a Cupcake Creation Station, where visitors can decorate and take home their own cupcake for $10.
The Celebration of Cakes is the inaugural competition of the Cake and Sugar Arts Association, a new cake enthusiasts’ club launched by Monoscalco. Most events are free. Partial proceeds from fee-based activities will benefit Save the Family Foundation of Arizona, which helps families rise above homelessness and achieve lifelong independence.
“Cake is not only comfort food, but for our family, it’s tradition,” says Monoscalco. “It’s traditions, and it’s fun, and I think that’s why it’s taken off with so many people. It’s good to eat, but it’s also this hobby or art form where you can be creative and create something fun and something really special.”
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