2013 ICES Certification Exam

In early August, Melanie shut down the bakery, loaded up the car, and headed to Kentucky to take a rigorous 8-hour skills exam called the Certification Exam.  The exam is hosted by the International Cake Exploration Society (ICES) in an effort to encourage its members to “develop their talents in the sugar arts, acquire new sugar art skills, and strive for excellence in cake decorating.”  The candidates are vying for the prestigious titles of Certified Master Sugar Artist (CMSA) or Certified Sugar Artist, but the process doesn’t start when the clock starts…no, no…it starts at least 1 year prior to the exam!

Over a year ago, Melanie registered to take the exam in Kentucky, and over the last 8 months, she has been perfecting her “Plan” for the exam.  Each candidate has to carefully plan which skills they will perform during the exam, where the skills will be placed on the display pieces, etc.  It doesn’t sound very difficult, but don’t underestimate the trickery involved with choosing your 8 best skills and incorporating them into an aesthetic cake design.  There is a fine balance between showing your talent and going way overboard (and wasting time) too.

The candidates must write up their plan and submit it to the adjudicators for approval.  While the adjudicators are there to help the candidates, they can only do so much.  During the approval process, they help ensure the candidates are following all the rules so they are not disqualified and offer some advice where they can.  But they can not tell from a drawing and description if the work displayed will be up to CMSA standards or not have quite enough detail for certification to be awarded.  That, my friends, is up to the candidate.

So when August finally arrives, the candidates have practiced and thought the exam through until they can do their skills with their eyes closed (or at least, that’s the ideal situation).  They load their vehicles and head to the exam location, which moves each year.

Melanie, her husband Adam, and their 4-month-old baby Hailee drove the 12 hours to Lexington, KY and arrived one day prior to the exam.  These are the cakes Melanie created during the exam:

Mel's 3-tier Certification display Continue reading

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Diaper Bag Baby Shower Cake

Last weekend, Adam’s mom threw us another baby shower! There were so many people there to talk to and so much good food to eat that I didn’t take a single photo at the shower. Whoops! I can’t believe it! So I have no new baby bump photos to share with you, but I do have a gazillion photos of the cake!

It’s the first official cake for Mikaela from Mommy! In other words, I made it. I spent almost all day Friday working on it because I wanted it to be just perfect for her.

The cake itself was shaped like a giant diaper bag and had a layer of chocolate cake, a layer of vanilla cake, and guava filling. The baby shower was held at Cafe Nuevo in Tampa (yum!) so I thought it was appropriate to have guava filling.

diaper bag baby shower cake edible baby shoes teether rattle
diaper bag baby shower cake edible baby shoes teether rattle
diaper bag baby shower cake edible baby shoes teether rattle
I made a tag for the bag and wrote “Mikaela” on it so it looked like we were ready to drop her off at day care. Although, I don’t know if she’ll ever go to day care with 2 sets of grandparents dying to babysit. *wink*

diaper bag baby shower cake edible baby shoes teether rattle
And I made a couple of pairs of shoes using cutters from Cakes N’Supplies by Ximena. Love them! I made these late at night on Thursday so they came out a little sloppier than I’d hoped…I think my eyes had started going cross-eyed…but the cake wouldn’t have been complete without them! In fact, Taylor, who came over to help me deliver the garbage truck cake & cookies, helped me by making the buttons and cutting out the Converse logos. Perfectly done!

diaper bag baby shower cake edible baby shoes teether rattle
Then I made a key teether set using another cutter from Cakes N’Supplies by Ximena. So cute! And I had to make some safety pins to represent the fact that we’re going to use cloth diapers for Mikaela.

diaper bag baby shower cake edible baby shoes teether rattle
And after we finished putting all the accessories on the board, Taylor and I noticed a blank spot towards the back. Oh no! That will not do! But Taylor came to the rescue and made this adorable baby rattle to fill the spot!

diaper bag baby shower cake edible baby shoes teether rattle
My due date is only 7 weeks away now and we can’t wait to meet Mikaela!

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