February 21, 2015
Judging a Delicious, Fanciful Cake Baking Contest
Will Cotton, an American artist born in 1965, is fascinated with sweets and has become very well known for his surreal paintings of Candy Land, populated by nude or seminude pop icons or pinup-style models. To quote the artist: "These paintings are all about a very specific place...a utopia where all desire is fulfilled all the time." Indulgence and desire, candies, ice cream, cakes and pastries, clothing devised of candy wrappers and other deliciousness—these are Will Cotton's underlying themes to support his painting of fantasy and imagination.
Every year, Will hosts a cake contest in his Soho studio, where invited guests bring what they hope will be devoured and chosen as the most creative, delicious and beautiful sweet cake on the crowded table of entries. I was asked to be a judge this year, and my daughter, Alexis, was asked to enter a cake, which she did. We all had a very sweet time at the party. Enjoy!
1 What a beautiful Valentine cake! Alexis made this for the annual Will Cotton cake baking contest. He holds this event in his downtown painting studio. It is lots of fun.
2 This is a cake that is famous in Uruguay: layers of moist yellow cake, fluffy frosting, broken meringue and canned peaches. It is very good.
3 This lemon tart was made with fresh lemon infused with rosemary and decorated with a fine surround of baked meringue.
4 The prizes were Will Cotton fake cakes, made of foam and artificial frosting. Much of Will's work centers on confections, icings and beautiful women.
5 Will uses his fascination with sweets to create a photo-realist type of art, drawing on real everyday things. This example was made using Mounds and Almond Joy candy wrappers.
6 An incredible "dress" made from Domino Sugar bags.
7 This looks like a Grisaille painting of flowers, but in reality, it is Will's idea of a wrapped candy bouquet.
8 A very special Valentine.
9 One of Will's portraits in the background—this fake cake was a distracting temptation for the children.
10 Jude and Truman were so happy to look at all the cakes and desserts.
11 One of the desserts was a blood orange Pavlova. Rosemary sprigs garnished the big meringues and slices of orange.
12 Another entry in the contest: canneles-type cakes topped with fruit and crumbs.
13 This Vacherin was composed of layers of meringue, whipped cream, nuts and pomegranate seeds, garnished with rose water and roses. It was a crowd favorite.
14 Another popular dessert was this dense flourless chocolate cake topped with a rigid, marbleized white-and-dark-chocolate heart. Raspberry coulis and fresh raspberries were served with the cake.
15 A confection but not baked or sweet. A mold of aspic, hard-boiled eggs and smoked salmon.
16 This is what Alexis' cake looked like cut: light, fluffy layers of banana and coconut and cream cheese frosting, topped with home-colored organic coconut.
17 Getting a picture of the entries.
18 Alexis photographed the activities and took a lot of pictures of her own.
19 And now, the judging can begin—each entry has to be tasted and considered.
20 Jude ate her piece of cake very politely, savoring every morsel.
21 Will was very animated when it came time to giving out the prizes.
22 Suzanne won a Will Cotton cupcake for her crowd-pleasing lemon tart.
23 Another very happy prize winner.
24 Will gave third prize first—it went to the Uruguay cake.
25 And first prize went to this happy woman who created the rose-scented, pink Vacherin. Alexis won second for her amazing layered heart cake.