If there’s anything near and dear to the heart of a former English teacher (that would be me), it’s a celebration of books and the joy of reading. So when I heard that Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library would send a book a month — FREE, you see — I signed up my granddaughter as soon as she was born!!! Sure enough, like clockwork, the postman delivers an age-appropriate book each and every month to the delight of . . . well, all of us.
So with great pleasure I joined the masses at The Great Cake Bake benefitting Knox County Imagination Library February 23rd at UT’s Neyland Stadium. Bakers from all over East Tennessee brought in their finest cakes and cupcakes — all to raise funds and promote reading! An event I could definitely get behind.
Bonnie Naugher, long-time supporter of Friends of the Library, directed me to tables of these juried delights in categories ranging from Beginner to Professional.
Long lines of folks filed past the cakes pointing the details to friends (“Oh, look over here!”), taking pictures, and sniffing the buttercream!
I noticed a definite trend (at least on the children’s book-themed cakes): lots of green frosting. Like this Dr. Seuss Oh, the Places You’ll Go cake by Devon McGinley, Chesney Julian, and Erin Claxton.
And Lynette Kegley’s green confection depicting Are You My Mother? by P. D. Eastman. (Love that birdie in the nest!)
Author Eric Carle would have been proud of Dale Newman’s Very Hungry Caterpillar: chocolate cake dotted with green frosting and sporting a perky butterfly!
Courtney Haggard topped her three-tiered creation based on Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen’s Mine-o-Saur with — what else? — a green dinosaur!
Lining the center table were the more professional, adult-looking cakes. Adorning Whitney Roberson’s elegant creation were pale orange flowers atop creamy cake rounds.
With layers of pearly white flowers, dots, and frills, Lisa Cunningham’s wedding cake made heads spin. Her new business, OVENart, opens at the end of May in Maryville — offering cakes, confections, pastries, and breads.
Closer looks at some of the cakes revealed details I never imagined possible. Just check out Lee Umberger’s perky pirate resting against a palm tree with a happy crab, faithful parrot, and treasure chest by his side!
From the book Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White came a People’s Choice Award. Rebecca Grizzle’s towering, many-layered cake showcased some of the tidiest, tiniest details of the whole show. And there’s a ferris wheel smack dab in the middle!
The Junior People’s Choice Award went to Ellen Cofer for this adorable ensemble, Billy Goat’s Gruff. (Picture from Knox County Imagination Library Facebook Page. Click here.)
In the cupcake category, A Mud Pie for Mother was the inspiration for Donovan Scott’s piggie-topped creation complete with coconut grass.
My personal award for humor goes to Denise Campbell’s cupcake featuring a witch who met her demise in a sweet sort of way.
If I had to select one cake (and that would be tough) from all the others as a true stand-out, it would be the one by Sara Kroetsch. Based on Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, this colorful, quilt-topped four-poster with a cute down-and-out kid had it all — detail, workmanship, and a forlorn little face. Loved it!
Just looking at all these kitchen creations made me long for something sweet to eat. Fear not. There was a table filled with goodies ready for purchase. Most of the cakes on the display tables were for sale, too. You just had to wait ’til the show was over to take one home. (A tiny price to pay when you consider you’re bringing home a tasty masterpiece!)
About the time the hunger pangs hit, I spotted Magpie’s booth where they were passing out colorful squares (free!) from a sheet cake based on Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. (The chocolate was the richest I’d ever had in a commercial cake!)
Thankfully, the Cruze Farm girls were on hand with their great-tasting milk to wash it all down!
It was altogether a great event. Kids could practice cupcake-decorating.
And volunteers, like Elizabeth Parker and Ashley Jackson from the Knoxville Junior League’s Done in a Day committee . . .
as well as Anthony and Kate from Gap Kids said they’d definitely man the booths again. Besides, it was fun just wearing those green shirts!
The Great Cake Bake accomplished its goals and then some: raising money, boosting reading, and making some of us jealous of those creative bakers. What a great way to spend a Saturday!
If you’ve been to The Great Cake Bake or you’ve got a cake story to tell, please share. We love comments about as much as we love sweets!
Knox County Imagination Library
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library