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Central Market’s creative crew wins awards

Central Market cake decorators (from left) Roxanne Carr, Courtney Carr and Vonnie Hansen, surrounded by samples of their culinary artwork. Paula Quam/Tribune

Like any other art form, cake decorating reveals the personality of the artist: That’s especially true of recent award-winners from the Central Market cake department.

The cake shaped like an attractive fanged young woman with bat wings, perched on the head of a dragon, was created by Roxanne Carr, who has a bit of a dark side.

It won a gold medal in the Upper Midwest Bakery Association cake decorating contest, held recently at the Treasure Island Casino in Red Wing.

It’s on display at Central Market with other cakes created by Roxanne, including a full-length golden dragon with lifted wings that won both people’s choice and judge’s choice last year — an almost unheard of accomplishment, said Cake Director Vonnie Hansen.

A tall blue cake, decorated with jewels of crystalized sugar and “painted” with fairies and dancers was created by Courtney Carr, who tends to look on the sunny side of life. She calls it “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” This was her first contest, and it won Best in Show for Beginners.

“I liked the thought of all those fairies in that play,” Courtney said. “I thought it would be cool to make a cake out of it.”

An elegant, yet practical white tiered wedding cake was created by Hansen. It won a silver medal.

Roxanne said Hansen wanted to create a cake that would actually be popular with brides in Detroit Lakes — not an over-the-top wedding cake that would be popular with judges but never sell in the bakery.

Roxanne’s entry this year was unusual in that it was edible. Except for wooden dowels for structural support, it was all made from cake and frosting in various forms.

 Most contest entries have bases of Styrofoam and a type of frosting that can be worked like Play- Doh and lasts several years.

The idea is to display them so real versions can be ordered of the cakes.

One of the most popular award-winners at Central Market is a wedding cake bedecked with grinning skulls (created by Roxanne, of course). Brides may not be lining up for it, but non-wedding versions are very popular for parties and special events, Hansen said.

The most elaborate cakes take hours to create, and the decorators often work on their own time to get their entries ready for the contest.

“Competition is the one time of the year we can put it all together,” Roxanne said.

Those elaborate cakes can be ordered by customers, but the price reflects all the time that will go into it: The most expensive cake sold at Central Market was a wedding cake that went for $2,400.

“It’s usually a one-time thing or something very, very special,” Hansen said.

She recommends 10 days advanced notice for an elaborate cake.

“We can give them anything they want if they give us enough time.”

The four-person cake decorating team gets busy, especially in the summertime, when business can double or triple and one or two additional workers are brought on board.

(Jeanine Teiken is the fourth cake decorator. She hasn’t entered a contest yet, but her time is coming, Hansen said with a laugh).

Hansen, who taught a class at the Bakery Association gathering on proper structural support for cakes, has been with the Central Market cake department for 10 years.

She has built a thriving business through great customer service. Even on short notice, she tries to find a way to make it work, which sometimes drives her staff crazy, but makes for happy customers.

“She comes in on her days off, stays late, comes in early — she finds a way to get it done,” Courtney says of Hansen.

Hansen likes to talk to the customers to get a feel for their personalities. She’ll even look at wedding invitations to get a feel for the décor.

“She’ll wake up in the middle of the night — ‘I dreamed how this cake will be!’” Roxanne said with a laugh. That’s happened more than once, Hansen admitted.

But she is proud of the department she helped build. “We do have an amazing cake business,” she said.

“Other stores are lucky to have one decorator, two decorators, tops.”

Central Market can easily have $7,000 worth of cakes in the cooler at any given time, and on weekends in the summer “we have to plan when special orders come in — we hardly have room in the cooler,” Hansen said.

Everyone in the department is cross-trained and can handle any job, which means Hansen can take a vacation once in a while.

Just get your orders in ahead of time when she’s gone.