NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP >> The smell of freshly-baked cupcakes drifted through the hallways of the Newtown Township building Friday morning where three teams of young bakers were embroiled in a Cupcake War.
As ovens heated up, so did the competition as Corgi’s Cupcakes entered the final day of the weeklong challenge on top followed by Dangerous Duos in second and Sugar Rush in third.
Armed with mixing bowls, measuring cups and all the ingredients, the teams worked their baking magic, whipping up dozens of delicious cupcakes, some of them brimming with blueberries and strawberries.
Six teams, three in the morning and three in the afternoon, competed in this year’s challenge sponsored by the Newtown Township Recreation Department, led by Linda Welles and open to elementary-aged youngsters.
As the final day of the competition began, the young bakers were challenged to whip up cupcakes using a Disney theme and to create a poster as a backdrop for their presentations.
Sugar Rush chose “Tangled” as their theme. The movie tells the story of a lost, young princess with magical long blonde hair who yearns to leave her secluded tower.
The team decided on strawberry-filled cupcakes with a vanilla cake base and topped with vanilla buttercream icing.
“I think we have a good shot at winning today because ours are going to turn out great,” said Audree Applebaum from Holland. “I watch a lot of TV shows about baking so this has been a lot of fun. Every day I go home and tell my mom about the cupcakes I made.”
Corgi’s picked “Beauty and the Beast” as their Disney theme, baking red velvet cupcakes topped with frosting and sprinkled with candy pearls.
“We’re making some of our cupcakes look like the beast. Some are going to look like Belle. And some are going to be roses,” said Erin Brown of Richboro, who was hard at work on the team’s poster, which will provides a backdrop for their cupcake display.
“We’re doing pretty good. We have won every day so far,” said Brown. “I’d say our best was our lemon meringue pie. That was my favorite one to make. We made a lemon cake and we iced it with a meringue frosting. Then we used a blow torch to toast it. It tasted really good,” she said.
The team also made a peppermint hot chocolate cupcake for a Starbucks-inspired drink theme. “We made a chocolate cake and we dipped it in a marshmallow glaze and then we put mint whipped cream on top,” she said.
Brown attributed her team’s success to attitude. “We all try to work together, have fun and not take it super seriously. We aren’t being super competitive. We’re just having fun.”
For its Disney theme, Dangerous Duos chose “Finding Nemo,” making blueberry-filled cupcakes with buttercream icing and topping them with candy pearls - the blue representing Nemo’s ocean home and the pearls representing the treasures of the deep.
“This has been a lot of fun,” said Dangerous Duos member Alora Morrison of Newtown, who has enjoyed not just the baking experience, but also the socialization. “I really just enjoyed just having fun with all of my team mates. While we were baking we have to be serious and focused, but half the time we we were laughing and just goofing off, dancing around in the kitchen.”
Morrison said her favorite cupcake of the week was a piña colada cupcake her team whipped up using a coconut cake and pineapple filling. “That was probably my favorite one. It also won for taste, which is the best you can do. We were all proud of that.”
The baking class and contest is the brainchild of Linda Welles and one of the highlights of the Newtown Township Recreation Department’s summer program. Welles has led the Cupcake Wars and other baking classes for nearly two decades.
“They compete all week long and each day is a different theme,” said Welles. “One day we had a pie-inspired theme so one group made lemon meringue pie cupcakes. Another made Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes. We also had a Blueberry Pie and a Pumpkin Pie cupcake.
“Everything is homemade. Everything’s from scratch,” said Welles. “They decide what frosting to use.”
Other themes throughout the week included Starbucks cupcakes inspired by a drink on the famous coffee shop’s menu, and an international theme with one group making a cannoli cupcake from Italy and another creating a maple cupcake with caramel icing representing Canada.
“They all know what they’re doing. It’s really awesome to see,” said Welles, who stood in the midst of a very busy room.
“This has been such a difficult time for everyone. I am just so thankful that we’ve been able to do this for the kids this summer and give them a sense of normalcy and something to look forward to every day,” she continued.
“They have absolutely enjoyed being here every day. They literally run in from the parking lot,” said Welles. “For me, I just love doing this. And giving them this experience is really important to me.”
Throughout the week, Welles said the kids learn not just the idea of working together and compromising, but also being comfortable in the kitchen.
“They’ve also learned so many skills, from proper technique to how to bake,” adds Welles. “And the cupcakes they have made have been phenomenal.”
As the final minutes of the competition ticked away, teams used piping tubes to add the finishing touches to their strawberry, blueberry and red velvet cupcakes, transforming them into individual masterpieces.
Having the delicious, yet challenging task of judging the cupcakes on Friday morning were Newtown Township firefighters John Gundy, Steven Katz, Shane Quinnan and Mike Bean along with Newtown Township Parks and Recreation program coordinator Matt Zipin.
The judges awarded points across the board, recognizing Sugar Rush for best taste, Dangerous Duos for best presentation and Corgi’s Cupcakes for best in creativity.
In the end it was Corgi’s Cupcakes that won the week and the Cupcake Wars, but team members seemed more intent on packing their cupcakes for the trip home than celebrating their victory.
After all, it wasn’t about who won. It was about having fun.