In today’s World, people are obsessed with food. Not only do they like the way it tastes, but the way it looks is just as important. Many high-profile and competitive food-related TV shows have, and still do, revolve around cake decorating. In Dodge County 4-H, youth can choose to take the cake-decorating project and exhibit their creations at the Dodge County Fair. They need to bring their A-game, though, because the competition is fierce!

Last year, at the Dodge County Fair, Susan Roche, Columbus, designed a cake shaped like a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). She won top honors. Two years ago, Roche decorated a Rapunzel-themed cake. She brought home all the awards that year, too. “I enjoy cake decorating, because I can be creative,” commented Roche, who learned the skill from her Aunt, Jacki Roche, and her Mom, Amy Roche. “My favorite cake designs so far have been my KFC cake and my Rapunzel cake, because they were big and hard — they pushed my limits.”

The cake-decorating project has three levels: beginning, intermediate, and advanced. “In the beginner level, we like them to use real frosting, learn the basic steps, and learn to use the basic tips,” said Bernie Hafenstein, Beaver Dam, who’s been the cake-decorating superintendent at the county fair for 30 years. In the intermediate category, 4-Hers can start dabbling with 3-D designs on cupcakes and using more fondant. Advanced youth can decorate real cakes or Styrofoam® forms with frosting and/or fondant.

Once, again, this year, Roche is pushing herself with her cake design. She wanted to learn how to make flowers. “My cake this year will look like a floral bouquet,” said Roche. “I’m using royal icing and gum paste. Gum paste is like fondant, but it gets rock hard. Royal icing gets hard, as well, and doesn’t expire as quickly as other frosting options.” Flower varieties in Roche’s design include peonies, hydrangeas, calla lilies, and more.

“You must have patience to decorate a cake. It’s good for kids to learn that,” noted Hafenstein, who’s set to retire from her superintendent position after county fair this year. “The beauty when they get done is neat. Every cake comes in so different. I’m going to miss it, but it’s time to pass the wand on to the next generation.”

The Dodge County Fair is scheduled for Aug. 14-18, 2019. Fairgoers can view all the cake designs in the youth building next to the highway.

Written by Dori Lichty — farm wife, 4-H Mom, and full-time communicator
Photo by Larry Douma of Leader Photography