The icing on the cake

Student set to face best high school cake decorators in Maryland

Student set to face best high school cake decorators in Maryland

April 02, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

Packing pounds of icing and plenty of confidence, Courtney Adkins, 17, is ready for a cake decorating showdown.

On Saturday, Courtney, a senior at Washington County Technical High School, will go to Baltimore, where she will face the best high school cake decorators in Maryland.

Courtney recently won a regional cake decorating contest in Frederick, Md., for high school students. She and two others have advanced to the state competition in Baltimore.

The contest was organized by SkillsUSA, a national group that represents students, teachers and other professionals involved with high school and college-level technical programs.


The Herald-Mail recently met up with Courtney in her family's kitchen in Smithsburg, where she was willing to share a few tips.

She was ready to go, proudly wearing her Tech High chef's jacket and with her two-toned hair - cranberry red on top, bleach-blond on the bottom - pulled off her face.

But her long, manicured nails, left over from prom, would have to go.

"You aren't supposed to have nails when you decorate a cake," Courtney says. "These are coming off before competition."

So, tip No. 1: No long nails.

Courtney says anyone can decorate a cake. In fact, Courtney says she didn't learn how to decorate a cake until this year.

She credits her Tech High culinary teacher, Tammy Twigg, for getting her up to competition level. Courtney says this school year, Twigg spent hours after school teaching her the ins and outs of cake decorating. Courtney aspires to go on to culinary school and start her own wedding cake decorating business. Had it not been for Twigg, Courtney says her dream might be different.

"I really give her all the credit," Courtney says.

For those of us who do not aspire to be top-dog cake decorators, and even for those of us who have yet to decorate a cake, Courtney says this is still something most people can do.

Most kits can be found at local craft shops and don't cost much money. They provide ample instructions, and some even come with practice cards.

One of the best things about cake decorating? Courtney says even if the cake looks imperfect, it will still get eaten.

Butter-cream icing

4 pounds 10x confectioner's sugar
1 cup white, unsalted butter
1/2 cup white vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
pinch of salt
1/2 cup water, more or less for desired thickness

Cream the butter and shortening. Add the sugar and mix for 1 minute. In a separate bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the water, the vanilla and almond extracts and the salt. Add the water mixture to the sugar mixture and blend until it's doughy. Gradually add more water until you reach the desired thickness.

Yields 4 pounds of icing.

- Courtesy of Courtney Adkins, 17, of Smithsburg

The Herald-Mail Articles