The Hopkins Organization for Programming (HOP) hosted its second annual baking contest last Thursday in the Glass Pavilion, raising $460 for Relay for Life. The entries — baked by the 36 participating groups — ranged from macaroons to blue frosted cakes to cookies in the shape of swans.
“One of the reasons why I love doing this event is because students here are just so creative,” Rebecca Rabinowitz, an executive board member of the HOP, said. “I definitely think there was more variety this year in terms of what was churned out by the contestants.”
Rabinowitz, who co-ran the baking contest last year, developed a rubric, obtained prizes and publicized the event. Along with other HOP members, she also recruited judges who would sample the baked goods and evaluate them. She turned to the Office of Student Life to find judges because the enrollment in the contest was larger than she had expected it to be.
“We felt that if we offered a big incentive in terms of prizes, that would increase the number of people … willing to join the event,” Rabinowitz said.
Although each group that participated had to set aside six slices of their baked goods for the judges, the remainder of the desserts were given out to students throughout the evening at no charge. Via optional donation cups, students could vote on their favorite desserts, while also donating money to Relay for Life.
“[The baking contest] was equally successfully attended both years, and we raised more money this year, which is exciting,” Joi Moore, one of the co-chairs of the event, said.
By a rough count, Relay for Life raised $460 this year, an improvement from the $320 raised last year. The contestants whose entry raised the largest amount of money received a $75 Amazon gift card.
The judges, not to be left out, selected winners for the five other categories of the contest. The winner in the presentation category got a $100 gift card to Sur La Table. The winner in the taste category received a $100 gift card to Woodberry Kitchen. The first place prize for the school spirit category was a Hopkins blanket. And a Kitchenaid mixer was awarded to the winners in both the creativity and all-around categories. The entries were divided into two groups and judged separately. Three additional judges evaluated the top three entries in each category.
“The judges end up tasting so much dessert here that after a while they don’t taste it as much, and then looks wins over the taste,” senior Burcu Atay said.
Last year, Atay received an iPad for winning the all-around contest. This year, senior Austin Schnitzer won the all-around prize for a cake containing coffee, raspberry and chocolate ganache.
“I was pretty excited [to win] ... There’s a lot of people who entered so I wasn’t really sure what would happen,” Schnitzer said.
Schnitzer found out about the baking contest through his friends, and this was his first time baking this particular cake, although he had baked similar cakes before. He hopes to use his Kitchenaid mixer frequently in the future.
During the event, students got the chance to sample a wide variety of desserts, and the participants all received aprons from the HOP. The money that Relay for Life raised will be used to fund the club’s major annual event, known as the Relay for Life.
The Relay for Life fundraiser is designed to raise money for the American Cancer Society. The event, which takes place in locations all over the country, is an overnight ceremony that recognizes survivors and consists of a walk around a track. At Hopkins, different dance and a cappella groups perform during the night. Other events hosted by Relay for Life include a fall kickoff event and Harmonies for Hope, a concert made up of five a cappella groups. Also, each month, Relay for Life brings a meal to cancer patients staying at Hope Lodge.
Sophomore Amanda Lourenco is a member of Relay for Life who participated in the baking contest by making marshmallow flower cupcakes. Despite encountering an obstacle, she is planning to enter again next year.
“I lit my oven on fire baking a batch of cupcakes,” Lourenco said. “We were up pretty late baking.”
All in all, students had favorable opinions of the event.
“[The desserts] were all really delicious,” Moore said. “It was really impressive how creative people can be.”
“[The HOP and Relay] did a really nice job,” Schnitzer said. “I was impressed. I wasn’t sure what to expect.”