Every once in a while, being a food blogger gives me access to some pretty wonderful opportunities that I would not have otherwise had. One of those manifested for me today, when I got to be a judge for Austin's first Cupcake Smackdown! The Smackdown, organized by the tireless Jennie Chen, featured blind taste competitions in storefront, catering, and amateur categories; a "cutest cupcake" contest; and cupcake-eating contests for both humans and dogs.
I got there a little early and got to peek behind the scenes a bit at the veritable hive of cupcake activity. There were more cupcakes than I'd ever seen before in one place. Cupcakes...EVERYWHERE!
Before too long, there were people and dogs everywhere, too. This event got a TON of buzz, and it seemed as if all of Austin came out to join the fun.
Photo by Dawn Mitchell
Vendors were on hand to ensure that nobody went cupcake-less.
Photo by Dawn Mitchell
Soon, the much-anticipated judging began. I was one of five judges sampling cupcakes submitted by caterers. We judged seven cupcakes in each of three different categories - vanilla, chocolate, and baker's choice - for a total of twenty-one cupcakes.
A table full of tastings
I have to admit, the judging was much more difficult than I expected. We rated each cupcake on texture and taste for both cake and frosting separately, then gave a fifth rating for the cupcake overall. For me to judge the cakes that way, that meant I took at least three bites from each of twenty-one cupcakes - usually more, as I often had to go back and re-sample them to better enable me to compare cupcakes to one another. I'm here to tell you, that's a lot of cupcake eatin'...but somehow, somehow, I muddled through.
Yours truly, discussing the finer points of judging
with Kristin Owen from Do512.
Photo by Jack Newton
Marshall Wright of EatThisLens, doing the dirty work.
By the time we were finished, I was, well, finished. Eating cupcakes, that is. I couldn't even think about eating another bite. But I wasn't too spent to wander around and snap some photos of the pretty little things.
These beauts were from Wicked Cakes.
These crazy creations from Cowgirl Cupcakes featured a french toast cupcake with candied bacon on top.
I'm not sure what flavor this one was, but it sure was cute!
I hung around for a while longer and watched half of the
And I thought I was an enthusiastic eater...
What a wonderful way to celebrate these totally tasty treats. Huge kudos to Jennie for pulling off a first class event!
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go slip off into a diabetic coma. Till next year!
Updated 8/2/09 - For those of you who are eager to taste the best cupcakes in Austin, Jennie's blog has been updated with the list of winners.