Some sweet dough

entries in sugarland’s cupcake contest

Here’s some advice: If you want to get as much of a particular food that you could possibly want, just publicly tell people you don’t like it. It must be the same cosmic law that makes cats go straight for the laps of the one person in the room who hates them.

Ever since I wrote a column proclaiming that I see no point in the cupcake, I have been asked to judge cupcake contests. “You know I’ve said in print that I don’t like them, right?” I tell the supplicants. But they are ever hopeful that their cupcakes will be the ones that bring me over to the side of goodness and light.

Add in that the contest will benefit charity, and I can’t say no. That’s what happened this week when Sugarland bakery in Raleigh held a contest that would bring a donation to the winner’s designated charity. It was a pro-am arrangement, with pastry chefs paired with local notables: Larry Fedora, University of North

morgan’s non-pro footwear

Carolina at Chapel Hill football coach; Debra Morgan, WRAL-TV personality; Mike Wheless of WQDR; and The Biggest Loser’s Ed Brantley and Heba Salama.

Each team received a basket of North Carolina products from which to craft their cupcakes. Fedora’s team got Chapel Hill Toffee, Top of the Hill Stout, Vintage Bee Cinnamon Honey, Chapel Hill Creamery goat cheese and – believe it or not – Neal’s Deli pastrami. For Morgan, it was Videri pink peppercorn chocolate, Larry’s Beans coffee, Fullsteam’s Working Man’s Lunch beer, Southern Season marshmallow creme and cheddar cheese spread from the Angus Barn. Wheless worked with sweet potatoes, pecans, bacon, Mount Olive sweet pickle relish and scuppernong wine. That left Brantley and Salama with Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Texas Pete, Moravian spice cookies, wine from Biltmore and Pepsi.

Points were deducted for not using all the ingredients (which I desperately hoped Fedora wouldn’t; I would’ve given him points for leaving out the pastrami). My two fellow judges and I did the main judging, and those present (the contestants could invite 20 people each) did a people’s choice.

The combination of chocolate and coffee flavors made Morgan’s team the clear winner of the four. Adding the cheese to the buttercream frosting made it stand up in firm swirls, but didn’t give it a cheese flavor. Morgan split the $1,000 prize between the Caring Community Foundation and Alzheimer’s N.C. Wheless’s creation was the fan favorite, earning a professional version the right to appear on Sugarland’s menu in March. Sugarland will donate 75 cents of each of the cupcakes sold to Wheless’ charity, Communities in Schools of Wake County.

After the contest, Sugarland decided to give $500 to each of the other three contestants’ charities, including Fedora’s, N.C. Children’s Hospital; and Brantley and Salama’s, Pay It Forward Fertility Foundation.

It was a delightful time and made some sweet dough for some good charities.

But, sorry, cupcakes….I’d still rather set my own serving size of cake.


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