Cake Off for Hungry Padua Pandas

Students at Padua Academy held their own “Cake Wars” today as teams of undergrads and faculty faced off in a fierce cake decorating contest. Five teams participated in the beach-themed and buttercream event, racing against the clock to finish their cake creations in just 45 minutes.

The annual cake decorating contest was Day 2 of Catholic Schools Week, which features daily activities for students that highlight the value of a Catholic education. The cake decorating contest, organized by math teacher Susan Poppiti, sous chef Ally Stuebing (’19) and the “Hungry Pandas Baking Club,” is one of the most anticipated events of the week. Students purchased $3 raffle tickets for a chance to land on one of the five teams. Proceeds from the tickets will in fact be used to purchase food items for the meals that the Padua students will make for the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware

Teams met several times before today to map our their creations and practice their icing skills, and each was provided a 2-layer 9” round cake to work with. Midway through today’s competition, the judges announced that each team would be given a “surprise ingredient” that they now had to incorporate into their finished cakes. One team was given licorice, another Gummi Bears, and a third Swedish Fish (lucky them!).

Most of the teams incorporated the school’s team Panda mascot into their creations, with many using fondant to sculpt mini pandas in bathing suits. One team created a huge crashing wave of icing that spilled out onto a beach. Another created five colorful surfboards that displayed each of the letters in P-A-D-U-A.

The winning team — with students Rachel Delate, Clare Mazzeo and Bridget Cahir as well as team captains Mrs. Fenimore and Mrs. Buchanan — created a plump mermaid panda clad in a bright pink bikini top who brushed up against the sand and seemed to be dozing beneath a palm tree. Her small life raft perched nearby.

Delate (’19) was elated with her team’s win. “It was a really tough competition and we worked hard and pulled it out in the end. Everything we did really prepared us for this and it all came together.”

It would be difficult for peers to vote on their their favorite cake, right? So the dynamic decorating duo of Poppiti and Stuebing lined up three professional judges to award the blue ribbon. Wilmington event planner Erica Razze joined chefs Bill Wallen and Jessica Wallen, of The Gaslight restaurant in Philadelphia.

Mazzeo, also a junior, was happy with the judge’s decision. “We added our ideas to make it our own, and today we added a few other touches to the cake plus the surprise candy, and we were able to incorporate it really well, so it worked out.”

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About the Contributor

Christy Fleming

Christy Fleming

The managing editor of, Christy Fleming also supports a variety of non-profit initiatives in Delaware. Her background includes positions in public relations, advertising and journalism.

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