Kake Korner decorators sweep the Great American Cake Show
Andrew Michaels Laurel Leader
Walking through the front door of Kake Korner in Laurel, it’s impossible to avoid the sweet scent of buttercream icing drifting across the room. White walls neatly outlined with pink trimming lead customers around the business, beginning with a display case in a room to the right, holding over 30 flavors of different cupcakes.
It isn’t long before people are lured to the other side of the business, where three tall decorative cakes and two sets of detailed cupcakes don first- and second-place ribbons from the 2015 Great American Cake Show last month in Waldorf.
“There are people who enter from all over and they can enter any category they want and they can enter whatever they want,” Kake Korner owner Diane White said. “You never know what the competition is going to be like, but our girls aced it.”
On the bottom layer – or tier – of one cake, decorator Michelle Lowman, of Jessup, used fondant icing, known as a cake coating or filling, to design the ruffles of a yellow dress. The next two tiers included a white ascot surrounded by a blue dress coat and a shelf stacked with books; all made of icing. At the top: The Enchanted Rose from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”
“It’s something that I think is kind of old, so it’s not as popular,” Lowman said of “Beauty and the Beast,” which was released in 1991. “Everyone does ‘Frozen.’ I kept on track with that and it took, on-and-off, about two weeks to finish it. I went here [to Kake Korner], I went home, I worked on it every chance I got.”
Working long days into late nights, Lowman said she kept putting more and more detail into her cake until the day of the competition, adding beloved “Beauty and the Beast” characters, including Lumière, Cogsworth and Chip Potts. Her work earned her first place in the advanced tiered category.
“Everyone who entered from here placed in all of the categories that we did,” she said. “For me, competing pushed me to do a cake that I didn’t think I would really get to do here because of the theme being “Beauty and the Beast.” I don’t think it’s as popular and people are kind of picky. It’s not like a home order, where someone gives you a theme and they let you do whatever.”
Lowman said the majority of Kake Korner’s customers come with an image of their ideal cake already in mind. The decorators will then abide by the customer’s descriptions, often using pictures from online provided by the customer.
To spice things up, White said she wanted her employees to participate in the yearly competition to showcase their work.
“It was good for them to be able to express what they always wanted to express on a cake here but can’t because nobody is going to order it,” she said, referring to Lowman’s “Beauty and the Beast” that would cost anywhere from $2,000 of $5,000, depending on size, amount of feeding and design. “They got to go wild for the competition and show their skills. That, to me, made me happy. I feel good for them, plus it gives them a good ego boost and a good feeling about their skills.”
Cake decorator Elizabeth Thomas, 29, said she spent roughly two weeks on her cake, recreating scenes from the film “The Nightmare Before Christmas” with its lead character, Jack Skellington. Thomas won first place in the semi-professional tiered category, also taking first place in the semi-professional cupcake category for her Harry Potter-themed cupcakes.
“I’ve always wanted to do these types of cakes,” Thomas said. “I wanted to do something my own way. I love being creative and doing different things every day.”
Thomas said her hands are her most important tool used to achieve the intricate designs of the classic film’s backgrounds and characters. Additional winners include Jordan Spooner, 24, of Catonsville, who took second place for her Anime-inspired cake and Amanda Marcelle, 25, of Glenelg, who came in first place for both her teapot cupcakes and “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past” video game cake.
After 12 years of owning and operating Kake Korner, White said she’s proud of her staff.
“I’m like the mother of all of them; I come in and check on everybody,” White said. “The taste is there. Customers never have to worry about it being bad. They never have to worry about it looking awkward. We don’t put out a cake unless it looks good.”