Winner Winner! New Champions Crowned at the 2023 Great Blanton Bake-Off

Austin Bakers Battle For Sweet Victory

By Taylor Tobin
Photos courtesy of Blanton Museum of Art
Blanton Museum Bake-Off 2023
Adult (Professional) entry "Whiskey Crumbs" by Jessica Abrons, inspired by Andy Warhol's "Farrah Fawcett."

When tasty baked goods meet stunning works of art, the result is The Great Blanton Bake-Off. A warm and colorful competition in its fourth year, the event is beauty for both the eyes and the palate.

It’s a celebration of paintings, sculptures, cookies, cakes and the Austin creative community.

Voting for the 2023 The Great Blanton Bake-Off wrapped up on May 18. Three new Blanton Bake-Off champions were crowned on May 19.

Art as Baked Goods

Inspired by the wildly popular The Great British Bake-Off TV show, the Blanton Museum of Art launched its own baking competition in 2019.

In the Blanton’s version, the baked goods submitted must be decorated to reflect one of the artworks in the Blanton’s collection.

Winners are chosen in three categories and each champion earns prizes from beloved Austin bakeries like Cookies Del Mundo and Quack’s Bakery.

Adult (Amateur) entry from Christine Davitt, inspired by VLM (Virginia L. Montgomery)’s “Butterfly Birthbed.”

MORE: Inside Marfa Invitational — A Vibrant Art Scene in West Texas

All Bakers Welcome

All Austin bakers, whether they’re professionals or amateurs, are encouraged to enter the bake-off.

Bakers submit photos of their creations to the Blanton’s Instagram account or email photos directly to the judging committee. The Blanton then shares the photos and invites Instagrammers to vote for their favorites in three categories: Under 18, Adult (Amateur) and Adult Professional.

The Under 18 category highlights young baking prodigies. The Adult (Amateur) category is open to all bakers over the age of 18 who don’t bake on a professional basis.

Not wanting to omit professional bakers from the contest, the Blanton also included the Adult (Professional) category for over-18 contestants who make their living as bakers, pastry chefs and pastry decorators.

2023 Great Blanton Bake-Off Winners

Twelve-year-old Catherine Chacón won the Under 18 category with her sugar cookies inspired by Ellsworth Kelly’s 2015 “Austin” installation.

The Great Blanton Bake-Off; 12-year-old Catherine Chacón won the grand prize in the Under 18 category with her sugar cookies inspired by Ellsworth Kelly's 2015 "Austin" installation.“Austin” is a stone and marble building with small, colorful and translucent windows arranged into shapes on the building’s sides.

Chacón echoed the concept of “Austin” by icing her sugar cookies with white frosting. She then used brightly-hued isomalt to fill in the cutouts that she made to represent the windows.

The Great Blanton Bake-Off; the winner of the Adult (Amateur) category is artist Alex Abbott, who made a white chocolate and orange cheesecake with an Oreo crust topped with orange isomalt “flames” and a shadowy figure of a beast on its hind legs, which depicts the “Ablaze” painting by Melissa Miller.Artist Alex Abbott emerged the victor in the Adult (Amateur) category. Her winning creation was a white chocolate and orange cheesecake with an Oreo crust.

The cake featured orange isomalt “flames” and a captivating representation of Melissa Miller’s painting “Ablaze.” The artwork showcased a shadowy figure of a beast on its hind legs.

The Great Blanton Bake-Off; Adult (Professional) award winner went to Mitzi Avila, the baker behind Cookies & Chill, a “ghost bakery” based in Austin.The award for Adult (Professional) went to Mitzi Avila, the baker behind Cookies & Chill, a “ghost bakery” based in Austin.

Avila drew inspiration from “Siphonora,” a sculpture installation by Thomas Glassford. It features a chandelier-style piece made with foam and rebar, hung in a white room painted with oceanic stripes.

Avila’s pastry interpretation of this immersive work features a mille-feuille cake. The cake is crafted using thin vanilla blueberry crepes with blue coloring, stacked to mimic the “Siphonora” color gradient.

The blue-white gradient also appears in the icing. At the top, there’s a sculpture mimicking the “Siphonora” chandelier made of alfeñique (a Mexican candy paste designed for molding).

Congratulations to these deserving winners. It’s time to get excited for the Blanton’s fifth-annual Bake-Off in 2024.

MORE: A Guide to Austin’s Best Art Galleries

Read More From the Food Issue | May 2023

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