Young baker takes the cake

Ava’s winning entry was praised for its “heavenly” strawberry scent, moist texture and color.

Ava’s winning entry was praised for its “heavenly” strawberry scent, moist texture and color.

The Nashville baking world was pleasantly stunned when 11-year-old Ava Ploof was named winner of the Nashville Farmers’ Market’s Fifth Annual Strawberry Jubilee Cake Contest.

“I thought I wasn’t going to win,” Ava says of seeing all 15 entries laid out on a table. But regardless, she had enjoyed the process of getting there — especially frosting the cake and doing the piping. “This was the first time I’d tried piping rosettes,” she explains. And her parents were glad to have seen her overcome the anxiety of entering her first baking contest.

“Ava has been baking for about four years,” says her father, Dan Ploof. “She’s self-taught in many areas. She researches countless recipes and baking videos to learn about things like piping techniques, baking tricks and complimentary flavors.”

The winning confection was praised for its “heavenly” strawberry scent and moist texture, and at least one judge commented on Ava’s fine choice of colors for her frosting. Her efforts earned her a $100 cash prize.

“I’m hoping to open a bakery one day,” she says. In just a few weeks Ava will fill her first cake order, for a graduation.

After Saturday’s surprise win, the first thing Ava did when she got home was bake cupcakes for her family. And then the next day she baked her prize-winning recipe for her church’s anniversary picnic.

It didn’t last long.

Our next contest:
Warm up your ovens and dust off your best summer pie recipes for the next Nashville Farmers’ Market baking contest — in conjunction with Community Farm Day on Saturday, July 6. Simply bring your entry to the Farm Sheds the day of, noon–1 p.m.

David Gonnerman