Cleveland native Kerri Morris was recently announced "America's Best Cake Decorator" by Cake Show of The Baking Channel.
"I grew up watching and helping my grandmother Jean Mosley bake. Back then my favorite thing to do was lick the bowl. After I had my own children, I used what Mamaw taught me and started baking their birthday cakes," said Morris.
Morris now owns Somethin' Sweet Bakery in Bellville, Texas.
The contestants for the finals of the show were chosen from a group of semifinalists from around the country.
Morris competed against three other Houston bakers in the categories of "Best Tiered Cake," "Best Sheet Cake," "Best Cupcake," and "Best Overall."
Morris created a circus-themed tiered cake for the first category. The cake consisted of a tall box of popcorn with a hotdog placed in top. The popcorn was created from miniature marshmallows and then airbrushed to look like popcorn.
Morris said she was a little hesitant in the creation of the hot dog.
"I was a little nervous making the hotdog. I'm pretty good about seeing a design in my head so I was pretty confident I could pull it off.
"Only having one hour to complete the design I knew I wouldn't have much time to carve.
"Using the loaf pan let me achieve the shape I needed, without much carving," said Morris.
Despite covering new ground with creating the hot dog, Morris believes the most challenging technique she used was when she made the popcorn.
"Luckily we were able to prepare a few things ahead of time so I was able to make most of it beforehand.
"I used mini marshmallows and a star tool to make the shape, hand painted the 'kernal' on several pieces, then airbrushed the 'butter' on top to look more realistic.
"I have a tutorial on YouTube that shows exactly how it was done.
"Even the camera guys were impressed with the popcorn," said Morris.
From that cake, Morris continued with her circus theme for the next category, a quarter sheet cake in 45 minutes.
Morris carved a big top circus tent from a square sheet cake, then added what she cut off the sides as the second layer for the top of the tent.
While on the show, Morris said, "It'll give it a little more dimension and a little more flow."
All of Morris' creations during the competition were full of color.
"By far my favorite part of decorating is the designing.
"I love the challenge of figuring out how to make the internal structure and how to make it come to life.
"I love to work with color. It's a real challenge for me to create a white wedding cake," said Morris.
Her love of color was shown when her finished sheet cake consisted of a red and white big top circus tent, a banner, a small lion and money inside the tent, and an elephant and clown peeking out from behind.
"Circus is a fun theme, there's so much you can do with it," said Morris while on the show.
From the characters surrounding the big top circus tent, Morris created her cupcakes in the next category.
With only 15 minutes given to decorate, Morris went into the round believing it would not be difficult.
"The cupcake challenge is going to be easy. It'll take five minutes. It's cupcakes, how long could it take," Morris said while on the show.
After the time was up, Morris realized it was a bit more challenging than she thought.
Morris said, after the finals were over, "The most difficult part of the competition was definitely the Cupcake challenge.
"I don't make cupcakes- so deciding on a design I was comfortable with was the hardest part.
"We had 15 minutes to complete four cupcakes, and yes, I ran out of time and did not get the nose on my lion!"
Morris' four cupcakes were a lion, clown, elephant and monkey.
Morris won every category in the semifinals and then every category in the finals, winning cash prizes, a spread in Bake Magazine, and the title of "America's Best Cake Decorator."
"I was so excited when I found out I had won!
"The cash is good but having the title of America's Best Cake Decorator is an awesome feeling!
"I'm excited for the spread in the magazine as well," said Morris.
While Morris grew up learning from her grandmother and licking the mixing bowl, her children will be able to have those same experiences, even more special because they get to learn from America's Best Cake Decorator.