Icing (and more) on Yasmine Hossamy's cake

schandler@newsobserver.comNovember 24, 2013 

The cake that Yasmine Hossamy entered in the State Fair looked good enough to eat, but she wouldn’t recommend it.

The cake was actually a foam form – the decoration was the important part. And the Cary eighth-grader’s bird-themed work of art grabbed a blue ribbon in her age category in the fair’s cake decorating contest.

It was Yasmine’s first time entering anything in the fair, and she thought maybe she’d heard wrong when her mom yelled upstairs to tell her she’d won first place.

“At first I didn’t believe it,” Yasmine said, but her mother was happy to repeat the news. “It felt very awesome.”

Yasmine started decorating cakes two years ago. She had gotten used to watching her mother, Lana Malki, working on the hobby in the kitchen, and eventually she wanted to try it on her own. She started by decorating cupcakes, later moving to full-size cakes that challenged her with more space and more room for details.

She found plenty of time to practice, both at home and after school in “Cakeology” sessions her mother started at Reedy Creek Middle School last year.

Malki has been decorating cakes for four years. Like many of the Cakeology students she works with, she said, she started from scratch.

“Before that I didn’t have any knowledge in baking,” she said. “My cakes either had a bump or a hole in the middle.”

But creativity in decorating the cake is what’s most important to “cake artists,” as she calls her students, and being new to it is nothing to be scared of, she said.

“I’ve seen a lot of nice work done with people that started with nothing, that didn’t know how to decorate a cupcake,” Malki said, “and their last session when they did their project they did very, very creative ideas.”

Like many students, Yasmine wasn’t sure how to start creating her own cake decorating style, her mother said.

“To begin with, she was nervous, she didn’t know what to do,” Malki said.

But with experience and time spent combing through ideas on the Internet to meld with her own tastes, Yasmine is feeling more confident, she said.

“What I like about (cake decorating) is that you can go above and beyond,” said Yasmine, 13. “There’s no wrong in it. Even if you mess up, you can get away with it, because it’s all art.”

But like any good artist, she pays attention to the details, and that’s sometimes the hardest part. Take her winning State Fair cake, for example. It wasn’t so hard to construct the birds and the log they’re sitting on and the flowers that set the scene. But painting the birds just right so they looked like they belonged together? That was tough, she said.

“All in all, it’s a simple cake,” Yasmine reflected, “but all those little details kind of show up in the end.”

The State Fair win has fueled an interest in improving her cake decorating skills and reaching for more challenges, she said.

“I would love to learn more techniques, because in the future I’d like to step up my game and do bigger cakes with much better details.”

And, she said, she wouldn’t mind entering the State Fair again and maybe even some bigger competitions. The taste of victory, after all, is sweet.

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