Thursday, October 12, 2006
Greetings to all friends of Diva Delights! Frankie C. and Antonia (my designated drivers) and I have returned from our grueling trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma where I participated in the 2006 Oklahoma State Sugar Arts Show at the Oklahoma State Fair. My entry was in the National Wedding Cake Competition, the largest in the country. This year’s theme was “Weddings Around the World”. I chose my hometown of Kallmünz, Germany as the inspiration for my cake with the steeple of the village church, St. Michael the Archangel, forming the cake topper. In addition to a three-tier cake minimum, the competition required a fully draped 48-inch table in keeping with the cake theme. There was also to be an inspiration picture or artifact; all table decorations were given additional credit if executed in sugar. Scoring was based on 100 with 10 points allotted each category. Scores over 90 earned a gold medal, 74 through 89 a silver, and 65 through 74 a bronze. Anything below 64 earned a certificate of merit. The highest score won the Grand Prize while the next three gold runners-up were awarded 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes.
The entries were astounding! The skill level was so high that I felt inclined to turn around and head back to New Jersey without exhibiting my own humble entry. But I got over my trepidation after a number of very positive responses from the viewing public. They were especially delighted to hear of my very personal connection to my inspiration and its history. I was more than pleased, amidst this incredible assortment of talent, to have been awarded a silver medal. The three judges scored my entry as a 93, 83 and 80. Not bad for a first time entrant! And I am all the more pleased as I ran out of time to complete my cake in its original and far more complex design.
A little history of my inspiration: Kallmünz is a village of about 2,500 in central east Bavaria, about 27 km. from Regensburg, in the region known as the Upper Palatinate. The main part of town is strung like a necklace along the river Naab at the foot of a rocky promontory atop which is perched the ruin of a medieval castle. On the other side of the hill flows the river Vils. The town of Kallmünz was originally settled by Celts. The castle was first destroyed around the year 900 and then subsequently burned and wrecked in a series of wars of succession until the final destruction by the invading Swedes in 1645 during the 30 Years War. The Kallmünz heraldic coat of arms, which you can see on the cover of the album on my cake table, shows blue, white and blue diamonds representing the coat of arms of the Wittelbachs, the royal family of Bavaria. The blue and white diamonds of my cake table skirt and the background of the album cover represent the flag of Bavaria; the red velvet table topper and golden cord and tassels pick up the remaining colors of the Kallmünz coat of arms. The golden crown on the coat of arms represents the Dukes of Wittelbach who once ruled Kallmünz. The two banners on the cover of the book that read “Markt Kallmünz” represent the charter designation of Kallmünz as a market town in 1283. The bridge in the picture dates from 1508 while the “Rathaus” (town hall), with its leaning tower, dates to 1603. The onion domes of the church steeple as well as the rococo interior of St. Michael’s, which date to 1751, are typical of the churches of Bavaria and I attempted to portray that style in the cake board as well as the cake. Unfortunately, time did not permit my executing the planned rococo decorations fully. St. Michael’s was the church in which I made my first Holy Communion.
The plaque with the picture of Kallmünz is made of a fondant/gumpaste blend and was painted with powdered food colors. The black and gold frame of fondant/gumpaste represents the wrought iron and gilded signs outside commercial establishments in the old towns of Bavaria. The album covers were also made from a fondant/gumpaste blend and the plaques on the front cover were hand painted in the same manner as the painting. The gumpaste flowers picked up the colors of the coat of arms of Kallmünz. The flowers represented are poppies, buttercups and blue cornflowers. My childhood memories are filled with spring meadows covered in red field poppies and golden buttercups; the summers brought wheatfields dotted with blue cornflowers. The gumpaste grape leaves represent the grape vines that grow wild everywhere in and around Kallmünz while the hop leaves represent the right of Kallmünz citizens to make their own beer. The little satellite on the left corner of the cake board is a representation of a memorial in the town square next to the church. The album contains pictures of Kallmünz, which my beloved, Richard Hayes, and I took on our European trip in 1990.
I hope that this covers most of the pertinent information concerning the cake competition. If you have any questions, please feel free to post them and I will attempt to answer them as soon as possible. Lastly, I would like to thank Antonia and Frankie, my designated drivers, for their generous contribution to this adventure and for putting up with my occasional hysteria and frequent insecurities. And many thanks to my friends and family for their prayers and well wishes for the success of this undertaking.
In future posts I hope to discuss the show and the other cakes in greater depth and to post some more pictures of my entry as well as a sampling of the big winners.