Cupcake War

Annalee Grant photo. Noah Ralph pipes some leaves onto his vanilla cupcake creation at his Cranbrook home on April 17. Noah will be one of the youngest contestants in the Cranbrook version of Cupcake Wars, which starts April 22.

Have your war and eat it too

By: Annalee Grant
Reporter, Cranbrook Daily Townsman

Twelve year old Noah Ralph finishes up a fondant rose spiral, and then begins to carefully pipe green icing for leaves on the top of his vanilla-flavoured cupcake as if he’s been doing it all his life.

The truth is, he almost has been. Noah’s been baking since he was two, according to the young entrepreneur, who has been selling his cupcakes to his Mom’s friends for the past few years. This month he’s getting his chance to shine, thanks to Cupcake Wars, a competition launched by Crumbs Cakery that will raise money for the upcoming Relay for Life.

Loosely modeled after the hit reality TV show Cupcake Wars, the local competition is calling all home bakers to submit their best cupcakes on Sunday, April 22 for judging by a local panel.

Noah will of course be contributing his cupcakes, but he isn’t about to reveal anything about the delicious creation. The two secret ingredients that all contestants have to use are chocolate and fruit, and the theme is spring. Noah says his Auntie Ingrid taught him how to make the fondant roses – and fellow cupcake bakers should be warned that he has a few other tricks up his sleeve.

Cupcake Wars will start this month with everyone who submits an entry before Sunday. After that, the top winners will be chosen to move on for the next edition, which will have a new theme and ingredients. The competition will go on until September, when the winning entries’ recipe and photo will be sent out to Cranbrook homes.

Danielle Cardozo, co-owner of Crumbs Cakery, says her fellow judges have quite a lot on their plate – literally. So far 42 people have registered, and they are hoping for an even 50. All entries must be by home bakers, and so far the ages have ranged from 12 years old to 50.

“We wanted to keep it a level playing field,” Danielle said.

Sandy Smith of Royal Lepage East Kootenay Realty and the author of Canadian best selling cookbook Kootenay Country Kitchens, will be one of those judges and sponsors who is looking forward to tasting each and every one. She promises the judges will not be anything like the ones on the television show.

“We’re not mean like they are,” she said.

Danielle said she didn’t think they would get anywhere near 40 entries when the contest was launched.

“I was thinking we might hit 10,” she said.

Noah is one of the youngest entries, and so far the only boy, but Smith says she knows of a boy and girl that are signing up this week that are younger than 12.

“It’s nice to see kids really showing an interest in getting back to basics,” Sandy said.

Danielle said it’s exciting to see so many kids getting into baking, and reality TV shows like Cupcake Wars and the Cake Boss have made a big difference.

“It’s trendy,” Danielle said. “I think it’s a trend that will stick around.”

Cupcakes have become more than just small cakes with icing – they’re now being made into incredible creations that require a huge level of talent and creativity.

“It’s definitely now being promoted as an art,” Danielle said.

While Noah is looking forward to entering the cupcake competition, he says his true passion is in building regular sized – or abnormally large – cakes. He once constructed a gigantic three-and-a-half foot ice cream cone cake that was so realistic, it looked like the “ice cream” was starting to melt. That cake took about five days of planning, baking, forming and decorating.

Everything Noah makes is constructed right in his Mom’s kitchen using his own recipes and decorator’s toolkit. He says the best part is “the decorating and the creativity you can put into it.”

Noah usually gets in the kitchen every week to bake something. While his Aunt helped him out with the beautiful fondant roses, Noah and his Mom took a course together to learn the rest. He hopes Cupcake Wars will help him get his name out so he can sell more creations, and maybe even get into the Cranbrook Farmers’ Market scene.

Registration can be done online at www.cranbrookcupcakes.com or by calling Danielle at (250) 919-7595. Drop-off will be on Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Rules and a list of the many prizes are available online. The five judges will be looking for flavour, texture, technique, originality and creativity, and the judging will be done anonymously. Winners will be displayed in the Kootenay Advertiser every week.

Sandy said she is looking forward to tasting some old recipes dug up from family kitchens.

All of the money raised from the $10 entry fee will go towards the Relay for Life. Prizes were donated by a number of local sponsors.

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