Flyaway victory

Bird-themed cake among winners at Ag Expo & Fair

Bird-themed cake among winners at Ag Expo & Fair

July 23, 2008|By JULIE E. GREENE

The winning bidder for Kristi Schetrompf's almond chiffon cake, the grand champion of open-class baked goods at this year's Washington County Ag Expo & Fair, got a sweet deal.

Schetrompf, who makes wedding and special event cakes for a living, said she would have charged $100 if she'd sold the birdhouse-themed cake privately, but because it was sold at the fair's cake auction Donielle Inskeep of Hancock got it for $30.

"They got a deal," said Schetrompf, who works for Cindy's Sweets and Supplies Inc. in Williamsport.

The cake is so pretty to look at that Judge Sylvia Shives said the judges cut from the back, trying to find a spot that wouldn't disturb the beautiful three-dimensional décor of flowers and birds around a birdhouse.

"We thought it was very well done. The cake itself was delicious," Shives said.

The cake had a "nice combination of colors and the delicate flowers and the little birds were darling. We could see a lot of work went into that cake," said Shives, a retired culinary arts teacher.


Schetrompf entered the cake in the open-class competition, which is judged on product quality, general appearance, texture and flavor, said Judy Williamson, the fair's superintendent for home arts and agricultural products exhibits. The open-class competition for cakes is not restricted to amateur bakers.

The best baked goods made for the open-class category as well as by members of 4-H or FFA were auctioned off Friday to benefit Washington County's 4-H programs. The auction raised approximately $4,500, said Beth Nichols, extension educator for 4-H youth development.

The grand champion 4-H/FFA cake was made by Sabrina Smith, 13, of Williamsport.

Sabrina made her mother's chocolate cake, a recipe Dawn Smith adapted from a recipe for Black Bottom Cupcakes. The cupcake recipe called for adding cream cheese and chocolate chips into the middle of the batter for each cupcake.

Dawn Smith wasn't crazy about the filling so she eliminated it and adjusted the quantities for the cake batter to create the chocolate cake recipe.

The cake is moist and rich, but not extremely sweet, Dawn Smith said.

Sabrina said she enjoys baking, a skill she picked up helping her mother and grandmother.

Among the other things she's made are no-bake cookies and potpie.

"I've made potpie, but it didn't go over very well. It was runny and the crust wasn't flaky," Sabrina said.

Dawn Smith's co-worker, Monty Jones, bought Sabrina's cake for $65. He agreed the cake was moist and tasty. Jones shared it with his co-workers at Twin Oaks Dairy in Mercersburg, Pa., on Monday.

Jones also bought other baked goods at the auction to support the youths. "They need to realize there's a reward for their hard work."

Schetrompf wasn't in 4-H or FFA as a youth, but she learned her baking skills early on from her home economics teacher, Iris Hendershot, at South Fulton High School in Warfordsburg, Pa.

"I love baking anyway, but my home economics teacher got me into it and I learned (basic) cake decorating from her," said Schetrompf, 30, of Hancock.

The rest she taught herself.

Schetrompf has been baking cakes professionally for 12 years.

During the busy season, from April to October, she can make up to six cakes in one weekend and about 40 cakes in one week.

For the birdhouse cake, she made two oval cakes, offsetting the smaller one on top of the large one. Then she used a special cake pan and dowels to create the birdhouse, and various piping tubes and dyed icing to decorate the house and cake with flowers and birds.

"I like the creativity and being able to be creative and make different things and make people happy when they see the final product," Schetrompf said.

Almond Chiffon Cake

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
5 egg yolks, unbeaten
3/4 cup cold water
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring
1 cup egg whites (usually 7 to 8 egg whites)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Cook's note: To have enough batter to make the birdhouse cake and enough icing to decorate it, Kristi Schetrompf made the cake recipe and the icing recipe four times each. For the cake she used a 16-inch oval pan, a 13-inch oval pan and a Wilton holiday house pan.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a small bowl, separate the egg yolks from the whites. Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the oil, unbeaten egg yolks, water and flavorings. Beat with a spoon until smooth. Set aside.

In a separate large mixer bowl, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar. Beat until whites form very stiff peaks.

Gradually, pour the egg yolk mixture over the beaten egg whites and gently fold with a spoon until blended.

Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. Increase the temperature to 350 degrees for the last 10 minutes. Toothpick inserted in center of cake should come out clean.

- Source: "This Old Cookbook" by Yvonne Wiles Georg

Butter-creme icing

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