The competition will be heated — more likely, preheated to 350 degrees — and the victory will be sweet at the Texas Cake Showdown.

The cake contest, held at the Galveston Home and Garden Show, features the best of Texas baking.

“All the entries are required to have at least one ingredient from Texas, whether it’s local eggs, pecans, Imperial sugar, fruit from the Rio Grande Valley or some other Texas-

sourced product,” contest sponsor Alicia Cahill, owner of the Kitchen Chick store in downtown Galveston, said.

To add a further touch of Texan spirit, all entries must be baked in a Texas-shaped pan, available at the Kitchen Chick.

The inaugural Texas Cake Showdown in 2013 brought out dozens of bakers, and while the cakes all shared the same distinctive shape, they differed widely in taste and appearance.

“It was wonderful to see the inventiveness that the bakers used in finding Texas ingredients, and in decorating,” Cahill said. “No two cakes were even remotely alike.”

The 2013 grand prize baker, Susan Walker Benson, created a Texas Lady Bird Cake that impressed the judges with its combination of cake quality, use of Texas ingredients and appearance, which featured a bird’s nest made of toasted coconut filled with candy eggs.

“I saw the little blue eggs at Central Market, and thought I’d make a nest, and then came up with the cake to go with it,” Benson said.

“I was trying to use as many Texas ingredients as I could, and even asked a friend for some eggs from their backyard chickens. I love to bake, but decorating them isn’t something I often do. I just entered the contest to support the (Galveston Island) Humane Society.”

The $10 entry fee for the cake contest is donated to the humane society.

“When I brought my cake for judging, I saw so many pretty cakes,” Benson said. “Having never entered a baking contest before, I was floored when I heard I’d won.”

Ellie Hanley won first place in the savory cake division with a cornmeal-based rosemary cake.

“My recipe was originally for biscuits, but I fiddled with it to make it a cake,” Hanley said.

“The Texas ingredients included the cornmeal, lemons and rosemary from my backyard.

“I candied some of the rosemary leaves to look like barbed wire.”

Hanley and her daughter Elizabeth both entered the contest, sharing the pan.

“Elizabeth made a pecan-caramel cake that was very good and very Texan,” she said.

Entries in the Texas Cake Showdown must be delivered to the contest booth at the home and garden show between noon and 4 p.m. Saturday.

The show features daily presentations, exhibits, merchandise and the latest in home and garden techniques and products. New exhibitors this year include the Garden Hen, with advice and products for raising chickens in the backyard, chicken coop maintenance and types of fowl that can be raised at home. Proceeds of the show benefit the Galveston Island Humane Society.

At a glance

WHAT: Second annual Texas Cake Showdown

WHEN: Entries due between noon and 4 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Contest booth at Galveston Home and Garden Show

COST: $10, which includes admission to the show

DETAILS: Proceeds from the show benefit the Galveston Island Humane Society

WHAT: Galveston Home and Garden Show

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Galveston Island Convention Center, 5600 Seawall Blvd., in Galveston

Texas Lady Bird Cake


2 cups flour

1 cup pecans chopped

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 eggs beaten

1 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple with juice


1 stick of butter

12 cup brown sugar

14 cup triple sec


Toasted coconut

Chocolate sunflower seeds

Rosemary blossoms

Caramel eggs


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the flour, pecans, sugar, baking soda, eggs and pineapple.

Bake for about 35 minutes.

This makes two Texas cake pan cakes or one 9-inch-by-13-inch cake.

NOTE: Bake the larger cake for about 50 minutes.


Melt the butter and brown sugar together. Add the triple sec and cook an additional minute.

Pour or brush the glaze over the cake.

Apply decorations as desired.

(SOURCE: Recipe provided by Susan Walker Benson)


Dude Ranch Breakfast Corncake

113 cup flour

23 cup cornmeal

212 teaspoons baking powder

14 teaspoon baking soda

1 heaping teaspoon white sugar

34 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter, diced

34 cup buttermilk

Lemon Rosemary Syrup

For biscuits

Preheat the oven to 420 degrees.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt.

With your fingertips, blend in 2 tablespoons of butter. Then blend in remaining butter until fully incorporated.

Mix in the buttermilk to form a loose dough.

Turn out the dough on a floured surface. Pat it into an 8-inch-by-5-inch rectangle. Fold the dough into in thirds and pat out to make a rectangle about 12-inch thick. Cut into 8 biscuits.

Bake for 20 minutes.

For Texas corncake

Preheat the oven to 420 degrees.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt.

With your fingertips, blend in 2 tablespoons of butter. Then blend in remaining butter until fully incorporated.

Mix in the buttermilk to form a loose dough.

Turn out the dough on a floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal halves.

Spray the Texas-shaped cake pan. Pat the dough to fit the pan.

Pour half of the Lemon Rosemary Syrup over the dough. Fit the remaining dough over the first layer.

Bake 20-22 minutes or until done. 

Invert the hot cake. Poke holes in the cake and pour remaining syrup over the hot cake. Garnish with rosemary leaves.

(SOURCE: Recipe provided by Ellie Hanley)

Lemon Rosemary Syrup

1 cup sugar

1 stick of butter

Zest and juice of 2 small lemons

3 good sprigs of 


Bring all ingredients to a boil in a saucepan on the stove. Once the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved, strain and retrieve the rosemary.

(SOURCE: Recipe provided by Ellie Hanley)

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