Food TV’s influence reaches St. Peter’s RC School

In 1998, I had surgery and was home all of August. The Food Network was just then launching in Buffalo and my dear neighbor Michelle told me about it. I remember thinking, “Really? What’s the big deal? Who is going to watch that all day long?”

I am here to tell you I had no clue how that network was going to change my life. No longer was I bound by cookbooks and magazines but could see the technique right in front of my eyes. Would a cookbook be able to explain how to chiffonade basil? Maybe not but I could see those two fat ladies riding around in their cycles along the English countryside buying pears and making bread pudding.

It’s a whole new world and St. Peter’s RC School principal Denis Coakley readily admits he is a foodie. Apparently, while watching a riveting episode of “Cupcake Wars” he started to cook up an idea and by the time he watched an episode of “Chopped” the final garnish was in place. The middle school was going to participate in their own version of “Cupcake Wars.”

He wanted to have a hybrid competition in the middle school (6 through 8th grade) where they would bake and decorate cupcakes using secret ingredients and assigned themes representing faith, academics and service. (The wars had to have a cease fire yesterday while they went off campus to volunteer in the community.)

The faith cupcake was to depict Jesus, a pretty straight forward assignment. The academics confection was to represent an historical event or figure. For service they were to bake and decorate a cake which represented the disabled or injured. While they could plan at home, research online and consult their family the baking and decorating happened in the cafeteria at school. This way teamwork could be observed and the students could have the joy of doing it themselves.

Yours truly was invited to judge one round of the competition. I must say, I was thrilled. I vowed not to be as “underwhelmed” as Candace, or like Florian, mumbling in his sweet French accent. There were four three-person teams competing, each completing three cupcakes so there were twelve cakes in all. It is a lot of sugar, even for me but I took one for the team. I joined Colleen Larkin and Sister Malou in our team adjudication.

First up were Spencer, Christopher and Michael representing the 7th grade boys.

We learned the secret ingredients were butterscotch chips, mandarin oranges and bacon bits. They had a delicious buttercream on several cakes that was a perfect accent.

Hannah, Gabrielle and all treated us to a coconut covered cupcake representing Jesus as the good shepherd.

They put the butterscotch in the cake for a nice twist.

They made a heart shaped cake using the heavy foil cake liner;

I am going to use that idea great job!

The 8th grade girls, Leah, Christina and Matteson (Andrea was unable to make the judging) made a beautiful fondant cross on their faith cupcake which was sprinkled with edible glitter.

Their academics cakes had the words “The Civil War” piped across four cupcakes representing the four years of bloody battle.

They sprinkled bacon bits on the plates reminding us of the battlefield.

The 6th grade girls prevailed in our installment of Cupcake Wars with three clever cakes.

Jaclyn and Teresa made a lemon cupcake filled with a lemon cream that was so good I would have finished every crumb if I did not have to taste 12 cakes.

It was not only delicious, it was spot on task. This faith cupcake had a cross made of white chocolate covered pretzel sticks with an edible wafer head of Jesus. The cross was on the green frosting and at the base were butterscotch chips looking like rugged rocks.

The historical cake depicted Betsy Ross complete with a crafted fondant head and a fruit rollout skirt. These are great kids guided by a great administrator.

Congratulations St. Peter’s RC School and thanks again for inviting me to your Catholic Schools Week celebration. Have a yummy week!