University Park Police Department Accreditation Manager Amanda Walker and her team of fellow cake artists and bakers recently won The Big Bake Holiday competition on the Food Network.
As part of the show, professional baking teams have five hours to design, bake, and decorate grand-scale cake creations based on holiday themes. It was judged by Ben-Israel, Eddie Jackson, and Danni Rose. Danny Romero of Danny’s Cakes and Sweets and Alexa Contreras Nuñez of Alexa’s Pastries were also on Walker’s team, the Mistletotes. As the winners, they get $10,000.
Outside of her work for the city of University Park, where she’s been employed for about six years, Walker has a home baking business, found under It’s a Cakewalk on social media, making unique novelty cakes.
“I specialize in novelty, structure, and 3D cakes,” she said. “If you can go to a bakery and buy it, I’m not your girl. I do out-of-the-box, kind of crazy cakes.”
Her first foray into making novelty cakes was about 11 years ago when she made a R2-D2 cake for her son’s birthday. She took her first cake class in 2021.
“I just had watched some YouTube videos and stuff and thought I knew what I was doing, and I made him this birthday cake. His birthday party was an hour from our house, and as I pulled into the parking lot of the event space, the cake fell over, and I was devastated,” Walker said. “I kind of told myself after that that I would never not understand structure. I would never have another cake fall over because I would always try to understand structure and understand how to compile a cake together.”
Walker said a casting director for The Big Bake reached out to her after seeing her cakes on social media.
“We applied to the show and made it all the way through all the process…then we were asked to compete on the show, and we flew to Toronto and filmed in Toronto,” she said.
For the show, in keeping with the theme of ‘wreck the halls’ Walker came up with a design involving a leaning Christmas tree with several elves on the tree.
“One of the requirements for the competition is that the cake has to move in a dynamic way,” Walker said. “We had lights around the tree that were flickering on and off, one of the elves messing with the light switch.”
“I’m so proud and amazed, actually, because we filmed it a while ago, and whenever you’re there, you don’t get to see too much of the cake after you’re done,” she said. “When I saw the episode, I was just even more proud of my team and what we were able to accomplish because it even turned out better than I had remembered it to be.”