That kind of weather can set the mood sometimes
for baking, so it may have been an added ingredient to this year’s
very successful Cake Classic.
The baking order had been decided on Friday at the ‘qualifying
round’ judging. Because Angel Food and Chiffon Cakes take the most
time to prepare, bake, cool and plate, the two contestants with
those recipes would be the first to bake. With three ovens, there
would be two groups of three working, then the final group would be
only one person. A drawing was held to see who would take the next
five baking spots.
Darlene Crider and Hannah Crider would do the Chiffon and Angel
Food, respectively. The first number drawn then went to Joyce
Conrady, who would be baking a Red Velvet Cake.
The next three contestants were Daniel Crider with a Chocolate with
chocolate frosting, Jackson Johnson with a Spice Cake, and Carlene
Carter with a White Butter Cake. Jeanne Runyon drew the last number
and would be the solo baker on stage at the end of the day with her
German Sweet Chocolate Cake.
For the bakers this was serious business, mixed on occasion with a
little fun and comradery. It was not uncommon to see the bakers
talking and sharing while they worked, and maybe secretly spying a
little on their competitor’s progress.
For Joyce Conrady, this was her first time to enter the Classic. On
Friday she had won both Angel Food and Red Velvet categories at the
first round judging. She chose then to bake the Red Velvet on
Sunday. Hannah Crider had also entered an Angel Food on Friday, and
was offered the opportunity to bake the same cake again on Sunday.
On Friday, Jackson Johnson was not a competitor. Because the Cake
Classic calls for seven entries, and because the money raised at the
Sunday evening auction goes to the 4-H Foundation in Logan County,
it was important to fill that slot. A call went out for someone who
would be willing to bake a spice cake.
Jackson Johnson is a recent addition to the 4-H prominent Crider
family having married Rebekah Crider last year in the late fall.
Rebekah is a superintendent at the Cake Classic this year, so she
couldn’t enter, but Jackson could, and did. On Sunday he admitted
that the cake he was working on was only the second cake he had ever
baked, with the first occurring the day before. None the less, as he
pointed to his mother-in-law and to his wife, he observed that they
were the best bakers ever so he had great coaches and a really good
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With time running down on the clock, cakes one through
three in the oven, and cakes four through six on the mixing tables.
Jeanne Runyon began doing some early prep work off to the side,
hoping to speed up her mixing time when it became her turn to go on
When asked if drawing the last number was a big disadvantage she
chuckled, perhaps a little nervously, and said she always seems to
do this, she is the one who most often draws that last number. One
might note though that while Jeanne’s cake was the last to go in the
oven, it was also the first to go on the judges table.
While her cakes were cooling, she noted that she was going to go
ahead and dress them while they were a bit warm. The frosting for
all the cakes can be made ahead of time and brought to the
competition. She noted that her traditional German Cake
filling/frosting made with nuts, coconut, and a lot of sugar, had
been made and stored away. As a result it was coming to the frosting
table a bit stiff. The warm cakes would help the filling to soften
and layer nicely between the three chocolate cakes.
After an afternoon of baking and frosting, all seven cakes were
placed on the judges table before the 4 p.m. deadline.
The judge for Sunday was Jennifer Steele. She works in the Nutrition
and Dietary Department at Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital in
Lincoln. Steele was asked not to arrive early as she should not be
able to relate the cake to the baker while she was judging. Steel
came in right at 4 p.m. with all the cakes on the table, and the
contestants now in the audience.
Taking small slices from each cake, Steel rated the cakes
individually, making small notations on the entry sheets. When she
had made it through all seven, she then ranked the top four, first
through fourth place.
First place went to Hannah Crider with her Angel Food Cake. Jackson
Johnson took second place with his Spice Cake. Third place went to
Darlene Crider for her Orange Chiffon, and fourth place went to
Carlene Carter with the White Butter Cake.
With the winners decided, the next step would be to auction off the
cakes to benefit the Logan County 4-H. That Auction took place
starting at about 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Mike Maske served as the
auctioneer, urging the contestants to talk up their cakes, and
pushing bidders to raise that bid just one more time for Logan