I am looking for anyone who has already developed criteria for judging cheesecakes in a bake-off. I would like to know how you based your decision for a winner in such a contest.
I looked back at my notes on the cheesecake contest I judged (with two other people). We based our decisions on the following criteria:
1) Appearance: was there any effort to make the cake look appealing? Was the effort overdone? Were there cracks/decorative extras (such as chocolate curls)/flowers, etc. Did the cook put the cake onto or into something unique (such as a basket). Was there something unique about the appearance? Was the cake attractive? Was the color right?
2) Texture: did it cut smoothly or crumble? Was it appropriately smooth and creamy? Was it too light and fluffy, too dense and heavy, too firm, too dry? Were extra texture ingredients appropriate (e.g. chocolate chips, blueberries, fruit toppings, chocolate frosting)? Did it feel good on the tongue?
3) Flavor: did it taste like cheesecake or were the other ingredients too dominant? Was it sweet enough? Too sweet? Were the seasonings/enhancers (such as vanilla extract) subtle or overwhelming? Were any extra flavors appropriate (chili powder for a savory cheesecake; fruit, nuts, etc.)? Was there an aftertaste? Did the cake have a pleasant aroma?
4) Style and Creativity: were there unique flavors, texture additions or decorative touches?
We gave each cake a number from 1 to 10 in each category. The ones with the highest points were the winners. We had one cake that was gorgeous and got high marks for appearance, but it was both too sweet and overwhelmed with white chocolate and also too dry, so it got low points for flavor and texture. The winning entry (first place) looked beautiful (though not as gorgeous as the other I mentioned), it also cut well: smooth, creamy and tender-firm, with sufficient moisture. The cheese melted on the tongue; the chocolate and vanilla were evenly balanced, as was the tangy-sweet quality of the cheese. There was a unique quality in the sour-cream topping. So this cake got high marks in every category.
Hope this helps. If you are holding a contest, I’d love to know how it works.
Ask Ronnie a question: http://ronniefein.com/ask
To comment: http://ronniefein.com/submit