Families connect through commmunity cake-baking contest

Billie Blair
Pratt Tribune
Laney Petz created the winning cake, a banana-flavored trout, in the recent Pratt Public Library cake-baking contest. Her mother, Amanda Petz was third. Second place was won by a family group of Jana Theis, Cunningham, and her daughters Shea Lunt, Pratt, and Brooke Borysiewicz, Cunningham. Prizes awarded were different levels of Pratt Chamber Bucks.

A recent “Get Baked” cake baking competition at the Pratt Public Library provided several area families an opportunity to spend time together in the kitchen for a good cause.

The contest, won by 12-year-old Laney Petz, was for bakers of all ages, so family groups were encouraged. 

According to Derese McAbee, the contest was a cultural event in that individual or families were free to use any homemade recipe. Entries included the more traditional cakes like lemon, spice, and chocolate. There was even an entry made from a recipe titled “Bilbo’s Seed Cake” which was based on a fictional Hobbit character. 

“I didn’t think of this as a competition between people or families,” McAbee said.  “The library today is more of a community center and not just a warehouse for books.” Continuing the idea of encouraging families to do activities together through this “community center,”

Her hope was that families would work together to bake and decorate their entries. McAbee saw the cakes as the winners of the competition.

Each cake entry had to be made from scratch and the recipes had to accompany the finished cakes to prove they were not made from box mixes. The cakes also had to be made from one of the many shaped cake pans that can be checked out from the library.

Amanda Petz, Pratt, and her two daughters, Laney (12) and Adrienne (10), do a lot of baking together. When they learned about the “Get Baked” contest, they thought this would be something they could do together, yet separately. Each one made their own cakes without help from each other. 

“The family bonding time was the best thing about the whole experience,” Petz said. “We didn’t expect to win. We thought there would be lots of fancy cakes and we would have no chance of winning.” 

Daughter Laney won first place with her banana-flavored, fish-shaped cake. At first, she was going to make a coy fish. Recognizing that she was more into nature and fishing with her dad, she thought she was more familiar with what a bass looks like. The finished fish cake was remarkably detailed.

The second place cake was a bear face made from a chocolate cake recipe. This cake was created by Jana Theis, Cunningham, and her two daughters, Shea Lunt of Pratt and Brooke Borysiewicz, Cunningham. The contest was first spotted on Facebook by Lunt. Theis and her and daughters thought this would be a fun experience for them to do together. They considered using the ice cream cone cake pan and decided that was too difficult. The bear was their final choice for pans because it seemed easiest. 

“It took only two colors of frosting to decorate,” Theis said.

The face was brown and the muzzle and inner ears were a darker brown. Several recipes were tried before they settled on the chocolate recipe that Theis said they will surely use in the future.

“We exceeded our expectations and were honored to receive second place,” Theis said. “We really appreciate the library and all they offer.”

The cake winning third place was made and decorated by the mother of the first place winner, Amanda Petz. She said it felt a little weird that her daughter won first place, but she was very proud of her and did not help her daughter in any way. 

Petz’s third place cake was a two-toned, lemon-flavored sunflower with a brown center.

“Deciding on what recipes to use for the contest is what took the longest time,” Petz said.

She and each of her daughters baked and decorated a trial cake before making their final entries. She said they gave away a lot of cake for a day or so. 

There were four other entries to the contest. A spice-flavored, shell-shaped cake had brown sugar along the bottom edge to resemble sand. The cake made from the Bilbo’s seedcake recipe included caraway seeds which gave the cake an unusual bread-like flavor. A gingerbread man cake was a mixture of chocolate cake and chocolate brownies. A last minute entry came in that was made in a double-heart shaped cake pan. It was so last minute that the frosting was put on the cake while still warm and looked more like a modern-art butterfly than a double-heart. It was chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting. Photos of all the cakes and recipes can be found on the Pratt Public Library Facebook page.

Judges for the contest were Brandie Cupples, owner of Busy B Bakery, and Kristen Skiles, owner of Kristen’s Kitchen. Both have lots of experience baking.

Prizes were Chamber Bucks: $100 for first place, $75 for second, and $25 for third.

McAbee said she hopes this becomes an annual event with more families baking together. There is a wide variety of shaped baking pans at the library that could be used for practice until the next contest, available for check out.

MacAbee said that she plans to offer a cooking competition in the fall.

Cake pans are always available at the library and may be checked out during their regular open hours (Monday-Thursday 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; closed Sunday).