The Saint Joe Cake Decorator

Cheyenne Botka

Kathleen Zmyslo is currently a junior here at Saint Joe. Every year, for the past 9 years, Kathleen has been taking part in the Saint Joseph County 4H fair! She has taken part in multiple projects for 4H, but her main focus is cake decorating which she has been doing for the past 5 years. The other activities she has done include photography, baking, and food preservation. She has participated in photography for four years and she has participated in baking and food preservation for three years. In baking she has made muffins, cookies, bread, rolls, and biscuits. She has won champion and blue ribbons in baking. Food preservation is the process of freezing, canning, and making food to preserve. In photography she has entered many projects over the years and has taken pictures of flowers, animals, and nature. She has received honors ribbons and blue ribbons in photography.

The 4H fair is from July 1st-9th, and in order to prepare she will start practicing for cake decorating about a month in advance. She will start working on her actual cake about three weeks before the due date to get everything prepared like the flowers and other details for the cake so they can dry before she puts them onto the cake.

When getting judged on your cake, you can receive a participation ribbon, a red ribbon(B), a blue ribbon(A), a purple ribbon which is for reserve champion, champion, or grand champion, or an orange ribbon which is a state fair entry. The judges will judge on appearance, the shape of the cake, craftsmanship, the choice in color, and the thickness of the cake board and how it is covered. Five different techniques are needed from whichever level you are in. The levels are beginners, intermediate, and advanced depending upon your grade level and when you started doing cake decorating for4H. Advanced level is stacked cakes and wedding cakes and you learn lace, lattice work, tiered cakes, and advanced flowers. You first have to know the basics like simple borders, decorations, and cake molds. Kathleen has worked her way up to being in the advanced category and has two purple ribbons, two orange ribbons, and one blue ribbon.

She was introduced to cake decorating by Mark Dale, who taught her the basics of making flowers, icing a cake, making borders, and many other techniques that led her to the advanced level where she taught herself most of the advanced techniques. Many of the techniques she was self taught. A few examples of what she taught herself are; how to use fondant, how to make flowers with it and other details, how to use gum-paste, advanced borders, layering the cakes, and many other techniques. She started out just decorating cupcakes for fun and she really enjoyed it so she decided to try doing cake decorating for 4H. That is how she found her love her cake decorating. It can take her anywhere from a few days to 3-4 weeks depending on how big and detailed her cakes are. Her favorite part about cake decorating is taking the time to create something and watching her cake come to life, and working on her cake and in the end seeing the finished product, learning new things, and expanding her cake decorating skills. Her least favorite part is rushing to get everything she needs to get done on time and trying to figure out what design she is going to do. Kathleen finds joy in decorating cakes and being able to feel accomplished in the end and brining joy to people when they get to look at her cakes.