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Judging sweets at State Fair not a piece of cake

Marilyn DeVault and Kate Hubbard of Piece of Cake Bakery may have bitten off more than they could chew when they agreed to be judges for the Oregon State Fair. by: SUBMITTED - Marilyn DeVault, owner of Piece of Cake Bakery, left, and Kate Hubbard, a Piece of Cake baker, judged more than 100 entries in cake competitions at the Oregon State Fair.

The two bakers were asked to judge cakes and had to sample more than 100 entries in the iced cake, un-iced cake, cheesecake and special dietary needs categories.

“It was such an honor,” said DeVault, who lives in Lake Oswego. “I’m a fifth-generation Oregonian. How exciting for me to be asked to judge a food competition!”

DeVault and Hubbard were asked about two months ago to serve as judges for the special dietary needs category, since Piece of Cake specializes in gluten-free, vegan, wheat-free and sugar-free cakes. When they arrived at the fair they discovered they were also to judge the other cake categories.

“It took four hours. ... It was a little overwhelming,” said DeVault.

The strategy they used was to sample cakes of the same kind together, choose the best of each kind and then pit the winners against each other. They were to judge the cakes on general appearance, texture and flavor.

Organizers said they were much faster judging the entries than others had been in years past.

“We just got organized, cut all the cakes and then kept sampling,” DeVault said.

A professional bread baker judged breads and a professional cookie and pie baker judged cookies and pies.

Those interested in entering the food competition at the Oregon State Fair next year should heed DeVault’s advice to practice making your special cake now.

“You’re ahead of the game now,” she said. “You know the judging criteria. Practice and have friends taste your cakes. When you bake your final entry, bake two so you will have one to sample with friends and the uncut cake for the competition.”

She also warned about choosing cakes with a longer shelf life, as entries may sit for a couple days under refrigeration before they are judged.

Would she do it again?

“I’d love to do it again. It was a wonderful experience,” said DeVault, even in light of the sugar high. “The organizer and volunteers were lovely. It was a very positive experience.”

Piece of Cake is located at 8306 SE 17th Ave., Portland.

To view the results in all the food categories, visit oregonstatefair.org/sites/all/osf/files/CLG%202013%20Award%20List%208-30-13.pdf.




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