The grand prize winner of the Taste 40th birthday
cake-contest made by Jayne Hotaling.


WOW! We were pleased and impressed by the cake Jayne Hotaling of Minneapolis designed especially for the Taste section's first online contest, in honor of our 40th birthday. It embodied the spirit of this contest. There are no candles on this cake, but it has something even better: hints of our past. If you look closely at the individual pages, the "type" is done in different fonts that reflect the changing appearance of the section over the years, which she found in our birthday special section.

Jayne, an art teacher, had never worked with fondant or gum paste before this cake though she's been baking since she was a child. (In fact, she had never entered any contest before.) Her mother always had Wilton cake supplies on hand and decorated birthday cakes for her family, so Jayne was comfortable around cake supplies. "Baking is an amazing stress reliever," she noted. As for the usual birthday cakes she makes, "Being an artist, I of course take it to the next level. I can't have standard birthday cakes. I have to step it up."

Not only is the cake topical, with an up-to-date Taste page, but a 40th birthday is a ruby occasion, so Jayne chose red fruit as decoration. Since she buys local as much as possible (she shops the Linden Hills Co-op), she wanted the fruit to be local, in this case cranberries and crab apples from Minnesota and Wisconsin. The cake is chocolate with mocha buttercream frosting. To see the 10 finalists, go to 

Thanks to all for the 420 entries, which received more than 12,000 votes during the one week of voting. We learned a lot from this first contest, which we'll apply to future contests. (We had no idea there would be so many entries. Next time we'll have more elimination rounds.) 












Jayne Hotaling, center, got early baking instruction from her grandmother. 


Runner-up was Angie Petree who took tidbits from the birthday special section to decorate her cake.


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